Formation of Children
A Father's Good Advice to His Daughter
Marian T. Horvat
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Human respect. It makes us act with the first regard to impress others or appear well before our peers or friends.
This is a story of a traditionalist father who had more respect for Our Lord than for the opinion of his neighbor. His faith and courage impressed his daughter so much that she returned to the practice of the Faith.
She was a Catholic girl in the ‘60s like so many others of those chaotic times. Educated in Catholic primary and secondary schools, she was off to a state university and was no longer practicing the Faith. She had many excuses to justify her lapse: unprejudiced persons were open to new experiences; her boyfriend wasn’t Catholic and thought all the rules and constraints were ridiculous; lots of her other Catholic friends weren’t practicing either, and one had even become a Buddhist. But she didn’t have excuses for her parents, and especially her Mom, who prayed a daily Rosary and went to Mass several times a week.
She had gone home for Christmas, assisted at Midnight Mass, and received Communion. After all, what would her Mom think if she didn’t? What if her Dad would try to make her come home and stop financing her college tuition and board? Also, it would have been hard to stay in the pew while everyone else filed into the Communion line. So many neighbors, relatives, old friends and teachers… What would they think?
A quiet talk
It was nearing Easter, and she was going home again. She didn’t realize it (when you are young and self-centered, you don’t realize how much your parents can guess about what you’re doing) but her father had some suspicions that she wasn’t going to Sunday Mass or practicing the Faith. The day after she arrived home, he found a way to catch her alone for a quiet talk.
“I realize you might not be practicing the Faith,” the father told his stunned daughter. “Of course, I’m concerned. But there’s something else that is bothering me right now.
She was angry, as he knew she would be (the modern youth, after all, have been trained not to permit any interference in their personal actions and beliefs). But she pretended to be unconcerned and indifferent.
“You know that we have the great privilege to receive Our Lord Himself – Body and Blood – in Holy Communion. The Church only asks one thing for a Catholic to receive the Holy Eucharist – for the soul to be living, that is to say, to be in the state of grace.
“You know how important you are to your Mom and me. That’s why I’m talking to you now. Don’t go to Communion just to please us, or because you are worried about what anyone will say. If you are in the state of grace, fine. But if not, the Bread of Life will be a bread of death for you. This does not mean that the Holy Eucharist was made to be your death, but only that, even before receiving It, you were already dead. And you are so in a double sense after receiving It, because you will have committed a sacrilegious violence against Our Lord.
“I read that the most cruel suffering for the martyrs was to be bound alive to a dead body in state of decomposition,” he continued. “Death would have been preferable to them than this torture, because this forced contact of life with death is a terrible punishment. Then why cause Jesus Christ to be joined with what is dead?
“I don’t have any more to say. All I ask is one thing: don’t go to Communion this Easter Sunday unless you are in the state of grace. I already told you not to worry about what your Mom will say or think. I’ll talk to her. I hope you’re not too upset with me, honey. You’re my daughter, and if I have a duty to worry about your health and education, I have even more reason to worry about your soul and your eternal happiness. I always told you not to do something wrong just because you’re worried about what people will think. But especially, don’t offend Our Lord Jesus Christ just for the sake of appearances.”
Still, that Easter she didn’t go to Communion. It took more courage than she realized to stay in the pew and wonder what “everyone” was thinking. The rest of the family didn’t say a word about it. Life went on as normal with the family get-together, the egg hunt for the little ones, preparations to return to the university.
But she remembered what her father had said. It was as if the words had been seared into her memory. She tried to forget them, but they were always there. Later, when she returned to the practice of the Faith, she realized how important that short talk had been. It had made her see how seriously her father took his Faith and how he truly believed in the Real Presence of Our Lord in the Sacramental Host.
Who is this girl? I know so many young people whom it might be. But, in fact, I don’t know her personally. I heard this story not from the girl, but from a priest, who was preaching on human respect.
It seems to me a good example to relate to my readers. Even in traditionalist churches, how many bad Communions are being made caused by human respect? It boils down to this: to worry more about what people will think than what God thinks.
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