No matter where we live we need to figure out the best way to raise our children. We need to use all our ingenuity to make sure they are growing up to be faithful servants of the Church and good and wholesome men and women that can survive in the world but not be of it.
I think this speaks volumes: “The Christian culture which we parents must fashion in our homes day by day, then, needs to be at once strong and supple, definite and adaptable. For it must train our children to live as Christians both at home and outside the home, both now and in their future lives.”
She points out in this small excerpt that the first requisite in raising fine Catholic children is the sacraments….
Thank God for our Holy Faith in a very un-holy world!
Pictured below: Father Walker (R.I.P.+) giving Rosie his First Blessing.
from the Challenge of Christian Parenthood
by Mary Perkins
Along what lines should we try to educate our children? How much of modern civilization should we try to bring them up to accept, how much to reject, how much to reform? How best can we train them for whatever God may want them to do for Him in the unknown world of the future?
Before one is actually immersed in the task of parenthood, the answers to such questions seem fairly simple. “Bring up children along traditional Christian lines….” “Train them in Christian principles…” But when one is faced with the innumerable decisions of daily family life, it does not seem so easy always to determine the “traditional Christian lines” of child training, or to see what “Christian principles” could or should be applied in actual practice.
How much, for example, should you let small boys follow the current local fashions in clothes? In toy pistols? In candy and gum? If you let them be as much like “everybody” as your means permit, short of anything obviously sinful or leading to sin, will you be giving the children the best preparation for not being like “everybody” in things that would be sinful? What is the line and where should you draw it?
In other times, society as a whole guided parents in such “drawing of lines” and it also backed up their authority with its own. There was an accepted way of going about the business of living, there were customs and conventions, and there was a definite social pattern which was at least remotely Christian. Parents could usually count on the help of the community in which they lived in giving their children some Christian standards of individual and social behavior.
But today there are few “communities,” in the old sense of the word.
There are no true social patterns, there are few customs and conventions that will help us in the art of Christian living. We must try to communicate to our children the Christian way of looking at life, the Christian way of dealing with life.
And we must do so while we are living in the midst of a society not exactly opposed to our “point of view” (as an agnostic would call it), but so confused in its own outlook that it confuses us, making it very difficult for us to hold our own point of view clearly or to act in accordance with it consistently. We have to incarnate a Christian way of living in our homes in the midst of a society neither Christian nor truly pagan but secular, that is, disconnected from the influence of God or of “the gods,” as far as that is possible.
The Christian culture which we parents must fashion in our homes day by day, then, needs to be at once strong and supple, definite and adaptable. For it must train our children to live as Christians both at home and outside the home, both now and in their future lives.
But how can we best go about such a task? If we tackle it like a picture puzzle, taking pieces of advice even from the most authoritative sources and trying to fit them together, we may find only a puzzle as a result. Unless we ourselves have some blueprint, some master-plan by which to judge whether to adopt Father A’s scheme of family prayer, or Sister B’s, whether to follow Psychologist X or the equally eminent and Catholic Psychiatrist Y in his ideas on child discipline, we shall let ourselves in for much bewilderment and little
But we do not have to look far to find such a master-plan. We have it right before our eyes in God’s own plan for bringing up all His children “in Christ.” As we all know, God’s method of education is sacramental; He uses visible and tangible things to bring us to the knowledge and love of the invisible; He teaches us how to use our human powers of body and soul, how to use the visible creatures of His universe in His worship and in His service.
He Himself is the great “Sacrament,” the visible image of the invisible
God, who has made Himself our way and our truth and our life. It is by living a visible human life, by doing a man’s work, by suffering and dying as men suffer and die, that He wrought the work of our redemption. And it is in a visible Church, His Body that He prolongs and fulfills His work through the centuries.
In the life of the Church, Christ teaches us Divine truth through human teachers, by means of human words, in images and stories taken from the visible world and from ordinary human experience. He pours out on us His own life and powers by means of the sacraments and sacramentals, conforming the force and pattern of our lives to His.
These, again, are administered to us by other human beings; their grace reaches us under sacramental signs of visible things and audible, comprehensible words. And we are taught to respond to Him by prayer of our human voices and imaginations and minds and wills to take our part in His work, by loving and serving Him with our human energy and skill as He dwells in our visible fellow human beings. And, finally, summing up our whole lives and the purpose of our lives, we take our part in the visible sacramental sacrifice of the Mass.
God’s master-plan, then, is to be found in the work of Christ our Lord
Himself, God and Man, His work of redeeming mankind. And our education of our children should surely proceed along these same lines if it is to be truly Christian education. We should make it as far as lies in our power a sacramental education, following and fitting into God’s own plan.
We should try to teach the children the invisible truths of the faith by means of the visible things around us, by means of the visible actions of daily life; we should try to give them the habit of seeing all created things as, in some way or other, signs of the power and wisdom and love of God. We should try to train the children to make the thoughts and words and actions of daily life true signs of their love of God, able to be offered with our Lord’s sacrifice in the Mass.
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