Wednesday, 2 May 2007

Parental responsibilities

Today I was talking to my sister-in-law in South Africa. She is not Catholic, and as this is my brother's second marriage (he has grounds for annulment of his first marriage, but hasn't gone through with it yet for various reasons), neither of them is able to take Communion in the Catholic Church.

I know that my sister-in-law has sometimes felt rejected by the Church because of her circumstances. She looked into becoming a Catholic at one point, but was told that although she was welcome to attend RCIA, she could not be received into the Church as long as she was with someone who was still married to another woman in the eyes of the Church.

Despite this, when my nephew was born in 2005, my brother and sister-in-law had him baptised. Since then, they have both been diligent in taking him to Mass. When my brother is not there, my sister-in-law takes my nephew on her own, and always takes him up to receive a blessing from the priest at Communion time.

They are now expecting their second child and have asked me to be godmother - an honour and a responsibility which I am delighted to accept. Today we were discussing dates for the baptism. She said that, as with her first child, she will make sure he is brought up as a Catholic and attends Mass regularly.

I was particularly struck by one thing that she said: "When I had J baptised, I made promises which I take seriously and try my best to keep. I'll do the same with this new baby."

I haven't (yet) told my family about this blog, so I don't know if she'll ever read this, but I'd like her to know how inspired I was by what she said. Despite her own ambivalence towards the Church and disagreement with it on some issues, she has made a promise and she intends to keep it. My nephews are lucky to have a mother who takes her responsibilities so seriously and sets them such a good example.

If only all Catholic parents took those promises so seriously.


Matt Doyle said...

I HAVE to comment! Having been born in South Africa myself, I have an Uncle in a similar predicament to your brother. However, in their case their was no grounds for annulment and so he, along with his second wife, have fell away from the Church altogether because of the communion issue. They no longer take the children there, and have opted for an evangelical 'free' church. The result of this is a requirement to be re-baptised (sic) and are not baptising their new baby. It is good to know that not all cases of failed marriages end like this!

newhousenewjob said...

I think that's why I have such huge admiration for both of them. It would be so easy for them to turn their backs on the Church and go somewhere that they feel more "welcomed", but they haven't done so. They play as active a part in the life of their parish community as they can, and are in regular contact with their parish priest. My nephews really are blessed.

Beth said...

That is great they are so committed. Those boys are blessed to have faithful parents!

a thorn in the pew said...

My brother and wife are in a similar situation. I hope they too decide that. They are in the process of leaving the church or don't know but they are continuing to send their girls to a Catholic school. We keep praying...