Life Style

When the faith of the youngest troubles their elders

“When I come back to my family, we don’t talk much about faith or religionsmiles Father Alexandre Brouillet, young vicar of Tours cathedral. There is a form of modesty between us. “ The young man traced his path to the priesthood starting from a family of a modest social background and little inclined to the life of the Church. His itinerary reminds us that faith often arises where we did not necessarily expect it, at the cost of possible turmoil between the generations.

→ MAINTENANCE. Conversion to Islam: “How Parents Respond”

The path of faith that a child or adolescent takes is a mystery, even more so when his parents say they do not share it. “One can imagine that the too great attraction of a child for the religious worries parents, advances Étienne Grieu, Jesuit. They may wonder if this is a symptom of an imbalance. “ Often the fear returns that the child will be “recruited” or be taught ideas to the detriment of his freedom.

→ CHRONICLE. Passing on the faith, quite an adventure

The confusion arises if the receptivity of a young person to the message of the Gospel is interpreted, by his family, as the possible sign of a beginning of vocation to the priesthood or religious. With, as a backdrop, the obligations that the latter imposes, among which the renunciation of giving life …

A taboo subject

“When a child makes choices that are radically different from yours, it asks parents questions about the choices they themselves have made”, notes Christiane Behaghel, marriage counselor for Cler Amour et famille. Similar questions reach the parents of children who have embraced a religion different from their own. “I am a practicing Catholic, says Chantal, whose daughter converted to Judaism two years ago. His choice for a religion that often places a lot of importance on rituals was painful for me. However, the affection remains, and our relationship has calmed down. “

Speaking of transcendence, of God, in the family, is not so simple in fact because it touches on what is most profound in everyone, by questioning their relationship to existence, to oneself, to others. , to the world, to life …

However, the stir caused by the faith of a young member of the family, whether or not he is driven by the desire to follow his friends, is not to be avoided, quite the contrary. “A child needs to cut off with his parents, continues Christiane Behaghel. It would be terrible for a child to be the son of parents perfect, after which he would not find enough to build something new. “

→ READ. When our children don’t have faith

To believe could therefore be one way among others of asserting oneself, more or less young, in the face of parents indifferent, even hostile to the faith. This affirmation, correlated with an emancipation from parental guardianship, could be more or less brutal depending on the psychology of the protagonists, their convictions … Until happy outcomes, such as that experienced by a priest son of communist and anticlerical parents who received from them, at a jubilee of priesthood, a ciborium at the bottom of which were melted… their alliances.

“They understood and respect what I am going through”

“Watching Mass on television in a separate room, I like to go out, at the time of the gesture of peace, to go and share it with members of my family. It makes them laugh, tells, moved, Céline, young lawyer. But they understood and respect what I am going through. Having seen me collected in a church, my father told me that he did not know that I had this interior life. “

→ MAINTENANCE. What role for grandparents in the transmission of the faith?

Understanding and accepting the other’s path takes time, which Paul confirms. “It is by fruit that we recognize the tree”, recalls the one who is about to start a thesis in nuclear physics. For the young man, one of these fruits is a “Greater understanding of others and in particular of (her) mother, after he suffered from his possessive love ”.

The succession of phases of perplexity, estrangement and then reconciliation between parents and their children is far from marginal. The Scriptures suggest that any call from God passes through a time of rupture with the generation that preceded it: from the call made to Abraham to “To leave his father and his mother” to Jesus who, at the age of 12, escapes parental supervision to discuss with the doctors of the Law in Jerusalem, the Bible is peppered with stories where the previous generation is “left behind”. “The call of young Samuel also says that Elijah is disowned as official in charge of worship, stresses Étienne Grieu. In general, the calls of God always disrupt the well-ordered plans that men can build. “

To divide to better unite

It would therefore be inherent in the life of faith to divide in order to better unite. “A child is disposed to mystery, considers Étienne Grieu, who has long exercised in awakening the faith of toddlers. Parents staying the time of a session discover the Christian faith and then are encouraged by their children to take up songs and prayers at home. “

→ READ. In Saint-Cirq-Lapopie, family evangelization

Therefore, why not make the house a ground of reciprocal evangelization, by simple liturgical gestures, even words of blessing, he suggests. “It is a very nice gesture, unfortunately little put into practice because we imagine that it is often only reserved for the clergy, explains Étienne Grieu. But a mutual blessing between parents and children transforms the relationship between them in support of a discovery of God. “

In case of impossibility to enter the catechumenate

Before reaching this relational quality, the young will be able to grow with the support of the Church, whose law clearly defines the possibilities of entering a catechumenate. The latter requires, for minors, the parental consent (which is quite different from the “faith”) of both parents.

In the case of a family where one of the parents opposes their child’s entry into the catechumenate, the Christian initiation ritual provides for a “welcoming ceremony”, without any particular rite: a way of demonstrating “Right intention” of the candidate and his reception by the Christian community before being able to begin to walk towards baptism.


Word – “In scouting, we offer faith, without imposing it”

Father Xavier de Verchère, chaplain general of the Scouts and Guides of France

“To accompany parents who fear the strong confessional impregnation of the movement, I am inspired by the remark of Jesus: “If you don’t believe me, at least believe because of the works themselves” (Jn 14,11). We do not ask young people to have faith: we offer it, without imposing it. By joining the movement, they adhere to its educational project. When a child recounts his experience in the movement, his participation in a time of prayer, in a mass, many parents are surprised to hear him talk about things that they did not expect. Through his role of spontaneous witness, the child has a considerable impact. “



Sometimes very early on, children assert their faith even in non-believing families. How is this journey experienced?

► “We would be more worried if our daughter asserted herself in a different faith”

Raphaël, 39 years old

“My eldest daughter, Charlotte, aged 6, says without difficulty that she is ‘Catholic’ without her knowing, no doubt, what that means. My wife Marie and I call ourselves non-believers and put our daughter’s affirmation down to the time she spends with her grandparents or her aunt, who are practitioners. We are not hostile to Charlotte receiving this religious awakening. This serenity is the fruit of my parents’ respect for my freedom and of the respect I have for their practice. I do not know how we would react if, later, Charlotte asked to go “further”, for example by asking for baptism. For my wife, who did not receive any religious education, it would undoubtedly be more difficult than for me, who did nothing but abandon an inheritance received. We would probably be more worried if our daughter asserted herself in a radically different faith like Islam. I would be more afraid that it “escapes” us. “

► “My journey touches them”

Antoine, 27 years old

“My family has a Christian tradition, but I never went to mass with my parents. Faith was summed up in a set of values ​​to be transmitted through scouting or Catholic teachings. I discovered God there. I chose to do my confirmation on my own and then, in higher studies, to go to mass, including during the week. When I presented to my parents my plan to study for a year at the Philanthropos Institute (1) in Friborg, my father just made sure that it was not a sect. There is a lot of love and respect between us, even if we express ourselves little on matters of faith, out of modesty. My journey touches them but it happens a bit like a “sound of the end of silence”, as for the prophet Elijah! “

► “I welcomed with joy Gaspard’s request for baptism”

Alexandra, 42 years old

“My mother and father are respectively from Christian and Muslim cultures but not practicing and I do not feel I belong to a particular religion. Our eldest son, Gaspard, has always asked himself many existential questions about life and death… The meeting with pastoral animators from his establishment enabled him to discuss these subjects and to meet practicing Catholics. In fifth grade, he asked to be baptized, which I welcomed with joy. I am not afraid of this difference, especially as I myself teach in a private high school and work with members of the pastoral team. I see that there is a buoyant enthusiasm. The spiritual journey of our son does not worry me but I am more reserved about the link to the Church as an institution. “


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