Bringing up children in a multi-rite context
Parents need to instill in the children the strong sense that they belong to Jesus who was born for all human beings and the apostles took that Jesus beyond the boundaries of their own native regions and that is why today we are privileged to call ourselves Catholics.
By Joe Palathunkal
A painful truth dawned on me recently, which never occurred to me all these years, that Catholics belonging to different Rites have an unhealthy attitude towards each other. The reason might have been the context in Ahmedabad and other parts of India beyond the boundaries of Kerala.
Catholics belonging to a particular Rite denigrate Catholics belonging to another rite and the same dangerous and sinful attitude is put into the children as well which can wreak havoc for a Catholic family and its children.
The reason is a terrible ignorance meticulously nurtured by some Catholic priests and parents from Kerala who do not want to open their eyes and see the Catholic Church as the most powerful global organization embracing people from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds without asking their birth or hearth.
The first lesson the parents must tell their children is this – we are Catholics and we belong to one universal apostolic church and therefore we have a duty to be one and apostolic looking at every human being beyond his demarcations to give Christ.
The second lesson is that parents need to instill in the children the strong sense that they belong to Jesus who was born for all human beings and the apostles took that Jesus beyond the boundaries of their own native regions and that is why today we are privileged to call ourselves Catholics, and that changed our outlook to life and surroundings for the better.
For the Catholic parents let Saint Paul the Apostle be the inspiration and model who though he was a Roman and Jew took the gospel of Jesus to the gentiles suffering numerous perils and persecutions and that made him to speak out from the core of his soul that we are all one in Christ.
What Paul says in Galatians (3: 23 – 4: 5) must be the talisman Catholic parents must teach their children: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” Inspired by this during Byzantine baptisms this verse is sung: “All of you who have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ, alleluia.”
Parents must keep on drilling this idea into children that as Catholics we are all one in Christ beyond all divisions – gender, race, creed, colour, caste – which men have created to glorify themselves and to deprecate and despise others.
But the clergy must cooperate with the parents in this regard and as an important step they must stop speaking about rites and glorifying them during the Holy Eucharist and must stop teaching about rites in catechism classes.
Why to sow the seeds of division and discrimination right away into the impressionistic supple minds? CBCI needs to take relevant steps in this regard. Some priests from Kerala pressurize catechism teachers to include rites in the schedule.
All these votaries of different rites must bear in mind what Paul told the Christians of his time in (1 Corinthians 3: 4): “Whenever someone says ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?” What Paul says is that whenever you cause division, you are merely worldly, not spiritual; to be spiritual all have to be one in Christ, and that is Paul’s avowed stand.
Children growing up in multi-rite context must grow up with this spirit of oneness in Christ and parents must inculcate this spirit of being one in Christ instead of seeing the other belonging to a different rite as an alien and low because it is absolutely unchristian and inhuman. Let parents bear this always in mind when they bring up their children.
Jesus himself has said that his mother, sister and brother were and are people who do the will of his Father (Matthew 12: 46 – 50) and that is the core of being a Catholic and Christian. Let our children grow up with such a Christian vision instead of growing up in the spirit of rite.
(Joe Palathunkal is Associate Editor, Living in Faith)
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