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Psychological Healing
in the Catholic Mystic Tradition

Children Fallen
Away from the Church

So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold,
I will spit you out of My mouth.

—Revelation 3:16


Catholic Psychotherapy  |  Spiritual Counsels  |  Books  |  About CSF

Things Don’t Just “Happen” | Drawn Away from God’s Will | Trust in God | What Your Children See | How You Lose Credibility | Exposing the Fraud | What You Can Do Now

WHEN children fall away from the Church, people will often say something like this: “Children have free will, and this sort of thing happens. It’s not your fault. Just pray for them.”

Well, an answer like that misses the point entirely. Things don’t just “happen.” Everything we do with our free will has an unconscious motivation, and if we are to live genuine Christian lives we have to discipline ourselves through sacrifice, obedience, and prayer so that unconscious motivation does not draw our wills away from God’s will.

Drawn Away from God’s Will

Christian parents have a prime duty to raise children to love and to fear God. And one of the parents’ prime obligations is to teach their children to do God’s will and to protect their children from being drawn away from God’s will.

In the times of the early Church, Christian families tended to live in Christian communities, and, because of general lack of mass communication, these communities tended to be relatively insulated from the pagan influence surrounding them. Therefore, children lived well-protected within the communities. Still, Christians had to be vigilant; their faith became their real protection from the hostile world around them, and children learned by their parents’ example to put their trust in a living faith.

But, over the years, as societies became more and more Christian, and as Christianity became more and more incorporated into secular politics, individual Christians tended to let their guard down. No longer threatened by a hostile non-Christian environment, their faith tended to become less emotionally intense and more intellectual. In essence, faith was gradually taken for granted. Faith began losing its identity as a personal battle against evil, and it started to become a mere social identity—a requirement, as it were—for social status and acceptance.

Now, in recent years, because previous generations have allowed their Christian faith to become lukewarm and hypocritical, anti-Christian ideology has had ample space to grow. The secular world, with all its weapons of entertainment, has been attacking the Church as an angry reaction to the social effects of Christian values having taken on secular political power. Children are being assaulted and brainwashed by anti-Christian—and especially anti-Catholic—television, movies, magazines, advertising, social media, music, video games, and sports, along with education itself.

When so much of the world today is based in such evil—that is, opposition to God’s will—Catholic children need to be protected from this evil. They need to be given a living faith that teaches them clearly, yet compassionately, what evil is. They need to be given a living faith that protects them from being drawn away to their destruction in an evil world. Children need to learn true, heartfelt trust in God.

Trust in God

Full trust in God is composed of two separate but interrelated components: trust in God’s justice, and trust in God’s providence.


Trust in God’s Justice. We have all encountered individuals who commit offenses and seem to “get away with it.” Although the irritation that we feel is justified, we can also be drawn into the desire to take matters into our own hands and get revenge. If we remember, however, that every crime—every sin—every offense against love—that a person commits is an offense against God that will be accounted for during his or her judgment at death, then we can understand that no one can evade God’s perfect justice. All sins will be paid for. If the sins are not repented, they will be paid for in hell, but if the sins are repented they will be paid for in Purgatory, thus demonstrating that mercy is a fundamental part of God’s justice. To trust in God’s justice, then, is to set aside our anger for the injuries inflicted on us and to let God administer His own justice according to His will.


Trust in God’s Providence. Some individuals have the mistaken belief that “trust in God” means to sit around doing nothing in the expectation that God will do everything for us. But this false belief is based in an avoidance of our taking full responsibility for living holy lives that bear spiritual fruits. To trust in God’s providence, therefore, does not mean that we do nothing; it means that we believe that, in answer to our prayers, God will guide, protect, and encourage us as we take responsibility for developing and using our talents to serve God.

With a fully-developed trust in God, children will be protected from everything that can assault their faith. To develop this trust in God, however, children need the example of parents who themselves trust in God. But if their parents’ lives do not reflect trust in God, the children will see the fraud and will end up trusting in nothing but their own power of manipulation.

What Your Children See

So, let’s be honest here now. What unconscious motivation has led your children to “fall away” from the Church? Well, maybe you see yourself as a “devout” Catholic because you attend Mass daily. Maybe you even go out of your way to attend a traditional Latin Mass. Maybe you pray the Rosary daily.

But what do your children see?

Do they see a both parents with a living faith engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? Do they see both parents living in constant contemplative love for God and awareness of His presence? If they did, they would look to their parents’ faith and, like Peter looking to Christ (John 6:68), would say, “Where else can we go? This is the real thing.”

No, your children don’t see living faith. Your children don’t see protection from evil. Your children don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. Your children don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see your external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things you do, or your husband or wife does, that contradict the true faith. Thus you lose credibility—and when the parents lose credibility, the children will become frustrated angry teenagers who turn to the secular social world around them for identity and acceptance. They will have more concern for gaining their friends’ approval than for loving God.

How You Lose Credibility

Do you or your spouse raise your voice or argue with your children? Do you or your spouse manipulate your children with guilt or tell them that they will go to hell if they don’t do what you want them to do? Ding! You lose credibility.


Do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up with the training and instruction of the Lord.
Ephesians 6:4


Do you or your spouse instruct your children with a focus on duty and rationality, using intellectual defensiveness to maintain your authority, all the while lacking emotional awareness and patient sensitivity to the personal experiences of your children? Ding! You lose credibility.


Put on heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.
Colossians 3:12


Do you or your spouse sulk in silence or sarcastic criticism when others mistreat you? Ding! You lose credibility.


Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
James 1:3


When you or your spouse are driving, do you swear or honk at other drivers? Ding! You lose credibility.


Finally, all of you, be of one mind, sympathetic, loving toward one another, compassionate, humble. Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult; but, on the contrary, a blessing. . . .
1 Peter 3:8-9a


To be fashionable, do you or your spouse wear immodest clothing that invites others to lust for your body? Ding! You lose credibility.


Your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God, and . . . you are not your own.
1 Corinthians 6:19-20


Do you or your spouse gossip about friends or coworkers? Ding! You lose credibility.


Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but everyone for those of others.
Philippians 2:3-4


Are you or your spouse overweight? Do you or your spouse eat junk food throughout the day? Does ice cream call for you or your spouse late at night? Do you or your spouse secretly look with lust at muffins come midmorning? Ding! You lose credibility.


For many, as I have often told you and now tell you even in tears, conduct themselves as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction. Their God is their stomach; their glory is their shame. Their minds are occupied with earthly things.
Philippians 3:18-19


Are you or your spouse a smoker, enslaved to nicotine? Do you use marijuana, which is for atheists (those who reject the idea of God) and Satanists (those who reject God)? Are you a heavy drinker or an alcoholic? Ding! You lose credibility.


For freedom Christ set us free; so stand firm and do not submit again to the yoke of slavery.
Galatians 5:1


Do you or your spouse crave eroticism? Do you or your spouse keep a secret cache of pornography on your computer or in your closet? Ding! You lose credibility.


They exchanged the truth of God for a lie and revered and worshipped the creature rather than the Creator, Who is blessed forever.
Romans 1:25


Do you or your spouse overlook sins, in the belief that the ends justify the means, as in saying, “Sure, there’s foul language and sexual scenes in this movie, but it has a good message.” Ding! You lose credibility.


So I declare and testify in the Lord that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds; darkened in understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance, because of their hardness of heart, they have become callous and have handed themselves over to licentiousness for the practice of every kind of impurity to excess.
Ephesians 4:17-19


Do you or your spouse ever skip the blessing before eating because you’re in a hurry or because people might look at you with scorn or contempt? Ding! You lose credibility.


. . . for although they knew God they did not accord him glory as God or give him thanks. Instead, they became vain in their reasoning, and their senseless minds were darkened.
Romans 1:21


Do you or your spouse ever say, “Let’s skip Mass today. There’s just too much to do today.” Or do you or your spouse arrive at Mass late (after the priest begins with the sign of the cross) or leave early (before the dismissal)? Ding! You lose credibility.


Make no mistake: God is not mocked, for a person will reap only what he sows, because the one who sows for his flesh will reap corruption from the flesh, but the one who sows for the spirit will reap eternal life from the spirit.
Galatians 6:7-8


When you or your spouse hear of some person in the news who has done something despicable, do you say, “Scum like that should be wiped off the face of the earth!” Ding! You lose credibility.


For the judgment is merciless to one who has not shown mercy.
—James 2:13


Do you or your spouse ever shout and cheer for a sports team? Ding! You lose credibility.


But may I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.
Galatians 6:14


Do you or your spouse worry about things to the point of anxiety or insomnia? Ding! You lose credibility.


Do not worry about tomorrow; tomorrow will take care of itself.
Matthew 6:34


Do you or your spouse file complaints, participate in protests, or start lawsuits? Ding! You lose credibility.


When he was insulted, he returned no insult; when he suffered, he did not threaten; instead, he handed himself over to the one who judges justly.
1 Peter 2:23


Do you or your spouse come home from work in a dark funk, warning everyone to “Get out of my way! Leave me alone!” saying, “What a horrible day!” Ding! You lose credibility.


For as Christs sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.
2 Corinthians 1:5


Do you or your spouse turn your back when beggars ask for money? Ding! You lose credibility.


Give to everyone who asks of you.
Luke 6:30; Matthew 5:42


Have you or your spouse allowed atheistic, anti-Catholic public “education,” social media, television, movies, magazines, rock music, and video games to highjack the moral development of your children? Ding! YOU HAVE LOST CREDIBILITY.


Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it would be better for him to have a great millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.
Matthew 18:6


Now, this list could go on and on. And it does. And it’s not pretty. Many persons who call themselves “devout” are, even as you read this, tripping over several of these things. And if they aren’t doing it now, they did it in the past, when their children were younger.

Exposing the Fraud

That’s why the children didn’t see devotion when they were younger and don’t see it now. They see hypocrisy and, to their eyes, empty, superstitious rituals. Though they might claim to be angry with the Church, they are unconsciously angry with their parents for living a fraud instead of a true Christian lifestyle that bears tangible spiritual fruits. And their anger is directed to one purpose: to expose the fraud.

Therefore, the children’s unconscious motivation is to show the world, through their own wretched behavior, that their parents are lacking in compassion and true love.

What You Can Do Now

So what can you do, now that you have lost your children’s faith? Is there no hope?

Well, there is always hope, as long as you are not afraid.

So, first, admit your mistakes, and the mistakes of your husband or wife, honestly and openly. Tell your children that you were wrong. Tell Christ that you were wrong. With a sorrowful heart, repent and confess your errors.


Only one thing, though, has any chance of reaching past your children’s apathy and resistance: your tears of contrition. Weep. Weep for the damage you have done to your children. Weep for their souls. Weep for your mistakes. Let your tears speak from your heart.


Then begin to live the Faith as it is supposed to be lived. Live the suffering, self-sacrificial love that Christ taught and that the Catholic mystics have experienced through the ages, so that it fills you from the inside and envelops you from the outside, becoming the entire reason for your life. Let this love manifest for both you and your spouse as a chaste life of sacrifice, obedience, and prayer—from your heart, not intellectually—every moment of every day. Live it with patience and humility, seeking God’s blessing for everything you do, giving thanks for all you receive, and bearing all trials with absolute trust in God. And, with emotional honesty and tears of contrition, demonstrate that faith to your children.

It’s relentless hard work for both parents—a true spiritual battle. But when your faith becomes your life then maybe—even though it may take 10 years or 20 years, or more—your children will take you seriously.

Then, maybe, once your children take you seriously, they will see that their anger can be healed.

Then, maybe, they will want the Good Shepherd to find them. What greater hope is there than that?

When your children choose lifestyles
defiant of chastity



If you lost money, you lost nothing. If you lost health, you lost a little. If you lost Faith, you lost everything.


—quoted by Georgy Zhzhenov



Recommended Reading
A treasure of a resource for psychological and spiritual healing. Information gathered from my websites (including this webpage) is now available at your fingertips in book form.


Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility, children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.

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