Dear Sister Sunday,
My Catholic kids go to public school, where some of the other kids are telling them that they aren’t really Christians. What should I tell my kids?
Signed Papist Parent
Dear Papist Parent,
Ah, childhood! If ever we are feeling nostalgic for those days, just spend some time inside an elementary school. Children negotiate the world with a rough, and often, cruel, calculus: If I am in, someone else must be out. Mama must love one of us best; only losers don’t have BFF’s and this table in the lunchroom is the cool table. (It will be years before the child, now grown, understands that the words “lunchroom table” and “cool” do not belong in the same sentence.)
That being said, now is as good a time as any to learn that, like almost everything on the Internet — present company excepted — not every accusation hurled at one is true. Wee Avery may dress like Suri Cruise, but that doesn’t make her either a theologian or an historian. Ask your children what their response would be if little Mason told them that sister has two heads or that brother has a squirrel growing out if his ear. Knowing full well that no one in the family has two heads or squirrels growing out of any orifice, they would feel no need to even answer the charge. Dignified silence is always a good response.
Wee Avery may dress like Suri Cruise, but that doesn’t make her either a theologian or an historian.
Of course, young Olivia may not give up the chase. In which case, your children need to know a few facts. The word Protestant means “one who protests.” One protests against something or someone. In this case Protestantism grew out of protests against the Roman Catholic Church, the first, the original and the oldest Christian Church. (If it turns out small Connor’s father is an historian of the Eastern Rites, you will have to tweak this answer to account for the Coptics. Otherwise, keep it simple.) The Roman Catholic Church dates its founding from the first century and the work of the apostles Peter and Paul. Protestant churches make their appearances more than one thousand years later, and many much later still.
Remind them that, as ugly as this family fight can sometimes be, we keep in common our faith in Christ.
Now to the important question: Not, “Are we Catholics Christian?” We are. The question is, “Are we faithful Christians?” Get a good book on the lives of the saints and start reading it with your children to help them understand that, from time to glorious time, we are.
And, if all else fails, remind them that they will grow up and never, ever have to sit next to little Riley again.
Sincerely, Sister Sunday