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Is the Catholicism—indeed, any religiosity—in the current generation of young adults rediscovered by the young rather than a gift from the old? I was thinking again this morning about Bob Miola’s beautiful essay (subscription required) about the entrance of first one and then a second daughter into the convent:

I find myself saying with dismay, “You can’t be serious.” Another daughter, Rachel this time, looks at me with deep blue eyes. Her lip quivers. Robert Kaske’s book of medieval sources, my gift to her before she heads to graduate school at Notre Dame, sits on the table, already a relic from another dispensation.

“You are wholly different from Chrissy and wholly unfit for that life,” I insist. “She loves rules and you can’t stand them.”

“There are a lot of ways to serve God,” I lecture. “Human love is good. Are you afraid of human love, afraid of marriage, afraid of sex?”

“Daaad,” she rolls her eyes in exasperation.

The having of daughters—a nice gerund, that, isn’t it?—is an expensive proposition: It costs, Robert Heinlein once quipped, 10 percent more than a man can make in any honest line of work.

And, what’s more, at some point, parents just have to get out of the way: It’s always been true that, once they’re young women, they are beyond any father’s control. Even Mr. Barrett of Wimpole Street couldn’t manage the trick.

But what struck me today in Miola’s story is the way it all comes from the daughters: The father is the force of resistance, skepticism, and hesitation.

Is this a pattern typical of only this generation, or has it always been so?

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