by Rev. Fr. George A. Kelly, The Catholic Family Handbook, 1950’s
WHEN you became a parent, you undertook the most important job of your life–the job of guiding your children so that they might live happily on earth and win eternal happiness in heaven.
The foundations of Christian family life have never faced the many-sided assault they must stand up against today, and the task of the conscientious Catholic parent has never been more difficult.
In order for you to understand what objectives you should strive for as a parent, you should first realize that your Catholic family symbolizes in miniature the Mystical Body of Christ. The husband and father is the head of the body and represents Christ.
The wife represents the Church and the children, as members of the body, represent the faithful. And this family unit has been designated by Christ to worship our Heavenly Father. Through its common life all the members give glory to God and express their submission to Him.
In addition, the family works with Christ for the redemption of its members and the world. For when Our Lord made marriage a sacrament, He established the family as a basic means through which His grace could be given to men. The husband and wife channel grace to each other and to their children and vice versa.
If these graces do not come to us in this way (through another member of the Mystical Body), they do not come at all. Therefore it is most important that parents and children live in the state of grace, and that the Holy Spirit continually dwell in their souls. For mortal sin in any member prevents the free flow of grace to other members of the household.
You will achieve the greatest success in your family life if you remember that you are fulfilling this sacred vocation. Like the priest, you are called upon to teach, rule and sanctify your children in the name of Jesus Christ.
His Eminence, Francis Cardinal Spellman, once wrote: “A man’s family (is) a place to which God could look, as He did to Bethlehem, for the beginning of mortal lives which are also eternal, for the beginnings of lives of tiny citizens of two worlds–of earth and of heaven.”
Your work as parents, therefore, is a holy and religious work. You may produce doctors, lawyers, scientists. But to the extent that your children do not reach heaven or are given every opportunity to do so, you have not succeeded. And you will begin to realize the full potentialities of your vocation when you see your family in this light.
Modern pressures harm family life. Today, unfortunately, we do not always have that Catholic family life of which older generations were justly proud and which produced great human beings and outstanding Christians.
The adult children of those fine German, Italian, Irish and Polish households now tend to reject their parents’ way of domestic living. They may value their many brothers and sisters and pay generous tribute to their self-sacrificing fathers and mothers, but the effort involved in having a large family is too heroic for them.
The training for hard work and service to others, the mental stability, the sense of right and wrong, the religious faith which they received–they want these for their children too, but they often do not want to do all the work or accept the point of view that makes such accomplishments possible.
In fact, some couples have wandered so far from the ideals of Christian marriage that they are not Christian parents at all.
Today we see the individual exalted at the expense of the family.
People marry foolishly and then leave marriage to suit their own convenience. Others deliberately limit children and thus belittle the importance to solid family life of a full household; their birth-control mentality tempts them to look upon their union merely as companionship or a means of mutual gratification.
Frequently a small and prosperous family has a built-in selfishness which disturbs, where it does not destroy, domestic peace. And parents who use contraceptives may have lax opinions about sexual morality, so that the young consciences under their care are harmed.
Many modern wives have forgotten, or do not want to know, that their first purpose is motherhood and that making a home is their most worth-while career. They have emancipated themselves from serious self-sacrifice on behalf of their husband or family.
Many husbands, too, have mentally divorced themselves from their high calling as teacher and ruler of their young ones; as a result, their homes are in a state of anarchy or matriarchy. Thus the marriage bond in many instances has ceased to be moral and spiritual. Instead it has become sensual, social and esthetic.
Some modern social scientists have termed Catholic concern over the decay of public and private morality and the disintegration of home life “alarmist poppycock.” They array a large amount of statistical evidence to demonstrate that the American world is no worse off than it was before. They declaim that elders have always looked upon every new generation as a generation of vipers.
But we who deal with people as people, and are interested in their moral well-being, know that the divorced, the promiscuous, the drug addict, the alcoholic, the homosexual, the juvenile delinquent, are increasingly prevalent phenomena which cannot be discovered in social pathology books, let alone the neighborhood streets, of thirty years ago.
They live next door–in large numbers and among ordinary family folk, and can be found in the mainstreams of society.
Parents, priests, doctors, teachers, judges, policemen and thoughtful citizens are rightfully alarmed, even if the sociologists and psychologists are not. And you, as parents, must be concerned lest the plague infect your home.
The blame for these blights on modern happiness can be laid squarely on the secular culture of our country which equates happiness with the pursuit of private pleasure and denies the existence of spiritual goals and values. The lack of religion, the encouraged agnosticism of our public institutions, particularly our schools, and the denial of the authority and rights of parents are all related to secularism.
In the face of such widespread error, the Church turns hopefully, as she did two thousand years ago, to the family. She would (1) have you recognize the Christian dignity of marriage; (2) strengthen your determination to live your family life in Christ and for Christ; (3) confirm your resistance to the pressures which threaten to destroy family virtue and domestic tranquility; (4) inoculate your family against further moral contamination.
For no matter what evil influences flourish outside your home, your family can be an impregnable refuge of Christian life.
It was an amazing thing to read the following Review from a friend, Mary Fifer, to whom I had given my Catholic Mother Goose Book.
She is busy with her own home duties and her Apostolate, one that works to promote Catholic Culture within the family, and so I was thrilled that she liked my book, and, surprisingly, to promote it like she did. I did not expect it.
Mary’s websites are:
She has many things for Catholic parents to peruse so please take a moment to stop by her sites! Her downloads and products will help you to make the liturgy come alive more fully into your home through coloring pages for Feast Days, Catechism Audios for your children, etc.
Here is the link to the whole review of my book, which includes titles of many of the poems and some pictures. A portion of it I have quoted below:
I don’t often make recommendations yet when Leane Vanderputten gave me her new book to review, Catholic Mother Goose, I couldn’t refuse.
I read her book cover to cover, and I love the whole thing. I think that it has the best Mother Goose nursery rhymes on the planet!
For over 25 years I’ve searched for unconditionally good books for younger children and her Catholic Mother Goose is a dream come true. It was an honest pleasure to read her book. This is how all Catholic books ought to be written. No Wite-Out necessary!
You can put it right next to your Msgr. Robert Hugh Benson rhyme books. You can read it to your little ones and assign it to your older children. I’ll bet that by putting it in the living room, it will be read without suggestion.
I wish I’d had it for our children when they were little, and I’ve got it on my list for when grandchildren come. I’m so glad to have a truly good Catholic book to recommend to family and friends for Catholic preschool and kindergarten and I’m very glad to be able to add it to our website.
This is the kind of Catholic book our children need!
Nursery rhymes are fun, yet did you ever feel as if you wanted to correct the old Mother Goose rhymes? I did. I often felt that they were nonsensical and that I should have our children learn rhymes that were more useful in their lives or that would help them remember the catechism. Leane has “written the book” that’s fun and also edifies children.
As a matter of fact, for me, I found very little time for nursery rhymes. I had read a Mother Goose book a time or two and did not like it myself so I did not read it often to the children. I’ve read the old Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes to little children and saw that the main thing they did was search the pictures, sometimes not so nice pictures. They often looked at me strangely wanting to know if the stories made sense or if that was truly the end of the story.
But this book! If we would have had Leane’s Catholic Mother Goose book (buy at Amazon), things would have been different. She has lovely rhymes with lovely pictures that are great for kids to read again and again. I would start early with my preschool children by simply sharing the Mother Goose stories as we cuddle on the couch for read aloud time. I’ve already shown Leane’s book to several children who loved the pictures right away.
The pictures are the type I would have loved to have been able to color when I was a child. Becky Melechinsky drew many drawings that could be colored like a coloring book and Leane’s photos are darling pictures of children that could also be colored. This would make a wonderful project for older children who could keep their own copy like a Mother Goose Nursery Rhymes coloring book to keep through the years. I would give this to my children as keepsakes because Leane’s Catholic Mother Goose is also a great second and third grade reading book.
All in all, I think Leane VanderPutten has created a book that you’ll love right now and that your children will love for generations for the very reason Leane gives in her Foreword:
“It gives us some lovely rhymes that can, and should, be committed to heart by your children. Not only will it provide all the benefits of reading and memorizing, but it will supply some simple reflections that will turn those little minds to what is most important in their lives….their Catholic Faith.”
Thank you so much, Mary Fifer!!