Taken From: Christ in the Home by Father Raoul Plus, S.J.
At twenty years of age Leon Thomas fell into a crisis not uncommon in youth whose friends have loose morals. He stopped being a Catholic. He was wretchedly unhappy not only because of the very direction he was taking but because willful pride and involuntary confusion prevented him from breaking with doubt to return to the path of light. His mother saw her son’s soul clearly and wrote to him:
“How is it, my dear child, that you do not write to us? I feel heavy-hearted because of it for I am sure that you do not realize what is taking place in your poor soul; all kinds of things are conflicting within it—it is ardent, but lacks the nourishment proper to it; you turn from one side to the other and you cannot tell what really bothers you.
“Ah! poor child, be calm, reflect. It is not that you feel your future lost or compromised; at your age one cannot have established his future or despaired of it. Do you think your work or studies do not show sufficient progress? Why? Perhaps because you want to do too many things at once; you are too impatient. No, it is not that? Your mind is willing enough but your heart and your soul are suffering; they have so many yearnings that you are scarcely aware of, and their unease and suffering react upon your mind sapping from it the necessary strength and attention.
“You are suffering, you are unhappy. I feel all that you experience and yet I am powerless to console or encourage you. Ah! That we might have the same convictions! Why have you rejected the faith of your childhood without a profound examination of your reason for and against it? The statements of those whom faith irritates or who have no religion for lack of instruction have made an impression on your young imagination; but nevertheless your heart needs a center that it will never find on earth. It is God, it is the Infinite you need and all your yearnings are driving you there. You belong to that select number of elect to whom God communicates Himself and in whose regard He is prodigal of his love once they have consented to humble themselves by submitting to the obscurities of faith.”
What a frightening duty mothers have! To bring forth the bodies of their children is a beautiful mission; to rear their souls is an even greater mission. What anguish for a mother when a grown child, a son in early manhood or a daughter in early womanhood cuts loose from faith, and considers God lightly! If ever she feels that she has lost her hold over her son or daughter, it is when she sees them follow the paths of doubt or fall under the spell of the intoxicating enchantments of flirtation.
A mother must continue to bring forth her children all her life. In this sense they are always her little ones. Not that she makes them feel their bonds of dependence any longer but that she watches over them. And she prays! Except for a brief reminder from time to time, the clear statement of her hopes joined to the definite but loving message of the father, an occasional letter in which true religious principles are recalled, the chief role of a mother whose adult child has strayed is prayer, patient waiting and sacrifice—the persevering effort to become a saint.
What if she were to die before she sees the return of her prodigal? What if the child were to die before she has seen him “return”? She should not be discouraged. Can we know what will take place in the last moments of the child’s life? Can we know the value of a mother’s tears? Saint Monica prayed and her son Augustine converted; but Monica had to first become a saint.