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When Lollipops No Longer Motivate

Remember when you could convince your child to do almost anything as long as you had a dum dum or two in your diaper bag? Too bad that strategy doesn't work with college aged young adults!

We all know that sometimes our college kids misbehave. Praying College Moms often ask, "How do I get them to go to Mass?... to practice chastity?... to focus on the school work, not so much the parties? etc." We want 'lollipop' solutions to these serious moral dilemmas but it doesn't work that way anymore. Talking to adult children is much more about our witness than finger-wagging, bribing, begging, or punishing. As they grow from pre-freshmen into seniors and beyond, our communication style matures from a hands-on instructive approach to something much more nuanced.

Our primary role as parents of adult children is to live by the Truth. Our thoughts, words and actions are to be honest, loving, authentically Catholic, and... well...saintly. We're not going to be perfect, but, if we want to persuade adult children to live by the Creed, we must set a good example and be able to articulate (often at a moment's notice) WHY we do what we do. WHY do we go to mass on Sunday? WHY do we try to live temperately and modestly? HOW do we show our love for others in imitation of Christ? When our "WHYs and HOWs" are heart-felt and rooted in the knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God, our adult children are more likely to listen.

Suppose for a moment that, during a Sunday call to campus, your freshman admits to missing Mass and asks defensively, "Why do you go to mass anyway?" How would you answer? Would you put aside your disappointment and without any argumentativeness explain how your heart sings as you receive the Eucharist? Would your words and witness be persuasive; your enthusiasm contagious? If you were unable to articulate your "WHY", to whom could you turn to for help? The saints have left us plenty of inspiration, (as noted on page 78 of A Spiritual Toolbox).

  • The Mass is the most perfect form of prayer. (Pope Pius VI)

  • The celebration of the Mass is as valuable as Jesus’s death on the cross. (Saint Thomas Aquinas, Doctor of the Church)

  • The Heavens open and multitudes of angels come to assist in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Saint Gregory, Doctor of the Church)

  • If we really understood the Mass we would die of joy. (Saint John Vianney)

  • Put all the good works in the world against a Holy Mass; they would be as a grain of sand beside a mountain. (Saint John Vianney)

  • It would be easier for the world to survive without the sun than to do without Holy Mass. (Saint Padre Pio)

  • When Mass is celebrated the sanctuary is filled with countless angels who adore the divine victim immolated on the altar. (Saint John Chrysostom)

  • Without doubt, the Lord grants all favors asked of Him in Mass, provided they be fitting for us. (Saint Jerome, Doctor of the Church)

  • There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us. (Saint John Vianney)

  • What graces, gifts and virtues the Holy Mass calls down. (Saint Leonard of Port Maurice)

  • It is not to remain in a golden ciborium that He comes down each day from Heaven, but to find another Heaven, the Heaven of our soul in which He takes delight. (Saint Thérèse of Lisieux, Doctor of the Church)

  • If angels could be jealous of men, they would be so for one reason: Holy Communion. (Saint Maximilian Kolbe)

We don't need to quote every doctor of the church or know the Catechism backwards and forwards to have a profound understanding of how much we are loved by Christ. Our grown children don't often even want to listen to our words. Instead, they are watching...It's our joyful witness and our ability to share in a detached, charitable way our authentic love of Christ that is most likely to persuade them that He loves them too, and that living a moral life is the safest, most reliable path to happiness.

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