You may have heard someone lament the fact that, in spite of a Catholic formation, the children today live like pagans, without God and without religion.
There is an explanation for this tragic situation.
What happens is, that while the child is little and yet innocent, everything goes relatively well. He or she prays and still likes to go to Church, and to be good.
But, as happened to Adam and Eve in paradise, at a certain point temptation knocks on the door of the child's soul.
This temptation suggests to the child that that world of religion and morals, where all is beauty, truth and goodness is not reality.
The devil tries to shake the child's first certainties in God and heaven and in all that is good as being something too high, too far away and too bothersome – things that can be simply cast aside.
A tendency is slowly born in the child to gradually leave virtue aside. The child muses, “These things are fantasy; they are unreal and should not be taken into account.”
This temptation, if not resisted, has a decimating effect on the child's soul and on their outlook on life.
The parent tries to keep the child on the right path by teaching them to pray, which is something precious beyond any words!, but this alone may not suffice.
For the very sense of order that is in the child's soul, that is characteristic of innocence, lies in a sphere which requires special work and attention. Common cares are insufficient.
Before the temptation, the child may have loved truth with some degree of exclusiveness. In other words, the child may have rejected sin, which is the opposite of goodness.
If the child did indeed reject evil, he or she is well armed to face temptation when it comes. However, if the child did NOT love good in an exclusive manner, but only as one likes a hobby, he is unarmed.
But what is often lacking in today's Catholic education is exactly this teaching about the importance of an exclusive love of good. Children, often, are not challenged to love God with their entire being, and to reject evil in a final, categorical manner.
In the middle ages, things were different. Then, there were so many saints because children were taught to love good and abhor evil.
For example, Queen Blanche, the mother of King Saint Louis IX, told him often that she would rather see him dead than know that he would live to commit a mortal sin.
Let us pray to Our Lady, Seat of Wisdom, to help Catholic educators learn how to teach children about loving good exclusively, and about rejecting evil categorically.
Once that happens, we will hear fewer complaints about children leaving the Church.