What my grand-daughter thinks

I recently had a conversation with my fifteen year old grand-daughter who was staying over for two nights. We got to talking about faith and God and I told her that when I grew up God was a frightening figure who kept a list of all our sins in a black book. Visiting missionaries thundered fire and brimstone from the pulpit, increasing our fear of the Almighty. She replied that she’s been taught that if you need God, just call him and he’ll be there. She believes he’s loving and caring, and readily forgives our mistakes. When I questioned her, she admitted to saying a prayer, asking God to forgive her actions and knew she’d been forgiven. I see here the benefit of a Catholic School education.

When I asked her what she considered a sinful lie, she said that sin is when you hurt someone, either emotionally or physically. According to her, saying you cleaned your teeth when you didn’t, is a lie but not a sin. In her mind, a sin has to hurt someone and then you need forgiveness. I guess I still believe a lie to be any untruth because while it may not hurt anyone, it damages your own integrity.

When I asked about the relevance of Mass in her life, she said she only enjoys Masses for a specific purpose, for example, Ash Wednesday. The format of this Mass is different and gives her the opportunity to reflect on and learn more about Jesus. Normal Sunday Mass has no meaning for her and is not usually attended by her family.

We then talked about heaven and hell. I’m not sure I believe in “hell” any longer but she does. She believes all bad people go straight to hell to pay for their sins but knows it’s not “a burning pit of death.” To her, hell is a blank, white space of nothingness. Hard to visualise!!

It’s also reassuring to know she believes in the Resurrection, Christ’s physical body coming out of the tomb. When I quizzed her on whether Jesus took that same physical body to heaven she was unsure. She’s positive our human remains won’t arise from the soil or ashes! Sometimes we have to have huge amounts of faith to be Christian.