My son is home from college and won't go to mass

Your Life
Dr. Cathleen McGreal
May, 2017

My son came home for the summer after his first year at college, and announced that he was no longer going to attend Mass, including when he is home. How do I talk to him about this without resorting to, “You have to go because I still pay your bills,” which would probably do nothing but lead to resentment?

In early adulthood, Iñigo Lopez de Oñaz y Loyola concentrated on courtly life and attracting women. A leg shattered in battle remained ugly, so he had it re-broken and reset. His recovery period led to conversion; St. Ignatius of Loyola eventually founded the Jesuits. God makes crooked paths straight. (Lk 3:5)

Rend your hearts, not your garments. (Jl 2:13) God longs for us to return with our whole hearts. (Jl 2:13) If your son attended Mass through coercion, his mind would be “on vacation,” rather than focusing on the eucharistic celebration.

Talk to or have a conversation? “Talking to” could imply a one-way communication. Instead, have a conversation with him. What is motivating his proclamation regarding Mass? Try not to be defensive as you listen. Pray for guidance, and pray for your son. Your witness and prayer are the best things you can do.

Walking the road to Emmaus. (Lk 24:13-35) We don’t know what lies around the next bend of our faith journey. The men didn’t recognize Jesus as they walked to Emmaus, but later at table their eyes were opened. As C. S. Lewis wrote in Surprised by Joy, “The hardness of God is kinder than the softness of men, and His compulsion is our liberation.”

The fruits of the Spirit are inviting to others. In interactions with your son remember that, “Since we are living by the Spirit, let our behavior be guided by the Spirit.” (Gal 5:22-23, 25)