by S. Hart
From the Australian Magazine, Catholic Family
Children Need Discipline
“In the home where the fear of God and the love of children are found,” writes Cardinal Mindszenty in The Mother, “parental authority reigns as the most solid of all human authority, if it is based on love, goodness and mutual trust, and not on severity. But from this we cannot conclude that parental authority must be entirely lacking in severity.”
A little lad was giving his parents a great deal of difficulty because he often had “tantrums” whenever he was told to do something which was not to his liking. From the time he was a baby he had made it a habit to stamp his feet, cry, yell, and in general, “carry on,” until his weak and helpless parents did as he wished. They had always given in eventually, so, of course, the little fellow had never failed to use his most effective weapon.
When he was about five, his uncle came to stay with the family for a few days. At first, the boy was on his best behavior, but when he was told to do something he did not want to do, he immediately went into his act.
The visiting uncle watched, surprised that mother and dad gave in, after which the tantrum immediately ended. The next day the same thing happened, and the uncle ventured to say, “Now listen, you shouldn’t act like that.”
The boy had his answer ready: “Oh, I can’t help it; I’m like that, really. Even Mum says so. I just can’t help it.”
A short time before he left, the uncle made an offer to the boy: “How would you like to come camping with me for a week?” The lad accepted very happily. To his parents, the uncle promised, “When I bring him back, he’ll be changed. You’ll see.”
The first time the young fellow answered back and threw a tantrum, his uncle gave him a good spanking, such as he had never received before. Surprised and angry, he yelled even louder, but he only received more.
“What did you do that for?” he tearfully asked his uncle.
“Why,” his uncle responded, “I can’t help it. When I see little boys act that way, I have to spank them. I’m like that!” Only once more did the boy try to get his way, but the same thing happened, and his uncle once again explained, “I can’t help it. I’m like that.”
Never again did the lad have another tantrum. In only a week he had learned his lesson… “Train the character of your children,” urged Pope Pius XII. “Correct their faults, encourage and cultivate their good qualities. Your children, conscious as they grow up and as they begin to think and desire, that they are guided by a good parental will, constant and strong, free from violence and anger, not subject to weakness or inconsistency, will learn in time to see therein the interpreter of another and higher will, the will of God.”
“Some mothers may say,” continues Pope Pius XII, “‘Children are so difficult to manage nowadays! I can do nothing with that son of mine; that daughter of mine is impossible.’ Admittedly, many boys and girls show themselves intractable. But why? Because when they were two or three years old they were allowed to do as they pleased.”
“We think of the little boy,” writes His Eminence, Richard Cardinal Cushing, “who was misbehaving during the children’s Mass. Finally reproved by an adult seated nearby, he protested in wide-eyed astonishment: ‘But, I’m only four years old!’
“We can readily envisage the scene which took place in his home,” continues His Eminence, “when his mother, defending his naughtiness, said: ‘But he’s only four years old!’
Children are natural mimics. They remember…
“I WILL!” or “I WON’T!” should have no place in the vocabulary of a child or youth when he contradicts what a parent has decreed must be. The little boy—misguided and uninstructed—who throws a stone at a window in order to hear the pane smash must realize that he deserves punishment, and that it grieves his parents to inflict it.
However, parents should not spoil the lesson by getting sentimental about it. When a wise and just rule has been set down and the punishment for breaking it established, no weakness on the part of the parents should prevent its being carried out. Otherwise, the child will lose respect for authority and devise every possible way of making his parents conform to his will.
There is no need to be surprised if the child attempts to show his protest against the correction by pouting. This is a precious weapon the weak use against those stronger than they—appearing to be sad, oppressed, suffering and in general, real victims. This habit of sulking, however, is dangerous, so let parents apply themselves to cure their children of it right from the start.
Effects of this pouting, especially in regard to girls, are dangerous for the future; girls already have the tendency to act like victims. If they are always quick to put on a “sad face” for any little thing, they are risking greatly the peace of the homes they themselves will make in future years.
In punishing his children, the good parent is absolutely impartial. There are no favorites, and no pre-conceived convictions disposing him to decide without evidence that “Johnny must have done it because he’s a troublemaker,” or “Mark would never do anything wrong.”
The good parent gives his child the opportunity to defend himself, and does not go ahead with the punishment if he sees that the little one is really innocent.
The punishment should always be in proportion to the fault. Children become very confused if they are not punished when they have been really impudent or mean, and are punished severely instead, when they accidentally break a glass. The best way to maintain proper proportion between punishment and fault is to consider not so much the external action as the child’s intention.
Sometimes there is a tendency to let one’s personal mood of sadness or joy influence punishment. For no reason he can see, a child thus finds himself one day treated with great leniency and the next day with excessive severity. Constant vigilance will prevent this disturbing fluctuation and the rebellion which often results from it.
Punishment given by an infuriated parent, who shouts and threatens, may frighten the child considerably, but it will never result in real moral betterment. In fact, when your anger is aroused, it is better not to punish; at least, do not punish beyond measure. If you keep control over yourself, you will not scold unreasonably, which does little or no good. A child is edified by the sight of his father or mother proceeding calmly to discipline him; the punishment becomes less hateful to him and far more effective. It is a wise rule, then, to wait until personal irritation has died down and one is in complete control of himself before punishing.
Let parents be careful in punishing. Constant discipline administered without love by unfeeling parents can have as many harmful effects as the unwise spoiling of a child by overindulgent parents. It can result in children who are unhappy, oppressed by tormenting fears, unable to believe in sincere affection, full of hidden resentment, or inclined to lie and deceive in the effort to escape punishment.
Chastisements should be used only as extraordinary means in absolute necessity, that is, when children are rebellious, selfish or mean and cannot be reasoned with. At such times, they need to be disciplined.
Some children, possessed of naturally docile and happy dispositions, may not need spankings at all. A disapproving word or look may suffice to discipline them. Actually, corporal punishment is one of the poorest tools for forming character. With little tots, however, a good quick spanking is far more efficacious than a long sermon. Nonetheless the impression doesn’t last too long and it will lose its effectiveness if used all the time.
Punishments of a moral nature are to be preferred to physical punishment, because the former may be of various degrees and are very effective. Examples of such punishment are: expressed disapproval, public re-proof, “cool treatment” for a certain period of time to show displeasure, and the removal of the child from some responsibility or duty at home which he considers an honor. This type of punishment is based on the child’s desire and need to feel trusted, esteemed and loved.
Good punishments, in fact, must not simply make the child “pay” for his misdemeanors. They must aim to better him, to preserve him from new falls, to strengthen his will by making the wrong-doing appear much less attractive. Wise punishments should teach children to make “correct decisions” by themselves.
It is related in the life of St. John Bosco that when he was a boy of five, he entered the house with his older brother Joseph, and both being extremely thirsty they asked their mother for a glass of water. After she had drawn the water, the mother handed the first glassful to Joseph. John was hurt because of this preference, and when his mother handed him a glass of water, he refused it. Without saying a word, his mother took the glass of water away.
For a while, John was silent, then he addressed his mother very timidly: “Mother, may I have a glass of water too?”
“I thought you were not thirsty,” she replied.
With that, John threw his arms about his mother’s neck, saying: “Forgive me, Mother.”
Years later, this same John Bosco one day learned from his assistant that there was ill humor among his boys. To put it to an abrupt end, he said to them that evening after prayers: “My dear boys, I am not pleased with you. For this evening I shall say no more. Go to bed.” The Saint’s words made a profound impression you may be sure.
A note of warning may be appropriate here: may your reproofs never turn into unbecoming invectives, scornful name-calling, and the like. Some deplorable acts can only do real harm. It is so easy to fall into the habit of scolding. But a constant stream of angry, harsh words falling on the child’s ear causes only misery and tension. And after a while, the youngster will just ignore them in self-defense.
Real love of the child, however, eliminates the danger of falling into this error. Parents cannot be rid of their responsibility by trying to turn over their authority to someone else. Their authority comes from God, not to be abused, but to be used out of love to help their children grow mature in Christian living.
If authority is always exercised for the betterment of the child, not just for the parents’ convenience, children will come to understand that in obeying mother and father, they are obeying God, who gives parents the right and duty to guide and instruct their offspring.
Help the youngsters to see that in disobeying your rulings they are offending God. When your child says he is sorry after disobeying, have him tell God he is sorry, also.
Mother and dad, if you bring up your children in the holy love and fear of God, you will keep them from many dangers and will reap much joy from them.
“The parent who loves his children and takes pleasure in training them in right conduct gives the best possible testimonial to marriage. On the other hand, the parent who constantly complains about his physical, financial or emotional burdens breaks down his youngster’s vision of marriage as a worthy state in life.” – Rev. George A. Kelly http://amzn.to/2yxKIes (afflink)
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The domestic virtues, exaggerated beyond their importance, can be the cause of deep emotional insecurity. Tidiness, cleanliness, routine — all are valuable and must be cultivated in the family; exaggerated, they can rob a home of all its warmth.
Children are not orderly by nature. They are experimenters and explorers, and the world is for them to investigate, with the result that, in their early years, they cannot and will not concentrate for very long on any one thing. This makes for great disorder.
But a normal amount of cluttering up is necessary if children are to learn and create and play with any satisfaction, and mothers who suppress it too determinedly for the sake of a tidy house can do great damage.
There are men who have never developed the “staying home” habit because their mothers kept their homes too clean to play in, because treasures were labeled trash, and unfinished projects messes, and constant nagging left them so ill at ease playing at home that they were more at home elsewhere.
Disorder can be very trying, especially when children who do surpassingly well at creating their own disorder bring in their talented friends to create even more.
Understanding mixed with reasonable requests to help clean up after play pays off in adolescence when the pattern of welcome is set. “Bring your friends home so that we can meet them” is futile advice to a teenager if, during all the years of being a little boy, he has been told to keep his messy friends out of the house.
Children like to be clean. They like the look of it and the feel of it. But they do not care particularly about staying clean. This has nothing to do with liking to be dirty. It has everything to do with how children play — and no normal child can play for very long without getting dirty.
Healthy play for small children involves playing on the floor, on the grass, in the dirt, and in the water; the inevitable end of it all is getting dirty. Scrubbing up afterward is a small price to pay for energy well spent and for hours of real joy.
Rules about not bringing dirt into the house (by the cupful, not on shoes) are fair and good, and rules about brushing dirt off on the porch before you come in are fair and good, but it is the height of frustration to be told to stop playing “because you’re getting dirty.”
The child who is scolded constantly on this score, dragged in to be washed, changed, and set to something “nice and clean,” is doomed to be a perpetual spectator, watching on the sidelines while the rest of men enjoy creative work and play.
Cleanliness for health’s sake is another matter. Very few children (none I know) seem to think it’s important to wash before eating; this simply has to be forced on them. I daresay few develop insecurities from a little brute strength applied here.
They must also learn to wash their hands after going to the bathroom, and it is best if mothers desist from using the clinical reasons and teach this simply as a social nicety.
Impressionable children are apt to develop terrible fears about bathroom functions if too much emphasis is put on germs (and this can cause real trouble later on when they learn about their reproductive organs).
Unable to understand about germs, learning about them first in the bathroom, then in connection with “dirt,” and things on the floor, cats and dogs and money and even the air, the world can soon lose all its loveliness for them and be reduced to nothing but a breeding place for germs.
If they should ask why God made germs, we can tell them that, like everything else He created, germs were good before Adam committed Original Sin. It was the sin that destroyed the harmony, and now some germs can do great harm.
God gave us heads to learn how to protect ourselves, however, and we can use them, put ourselves in God’s care, and refuse to waste time worrying about what might happen because of germs.
Brushing teeth, taking baths, washing hair — all the good health habits are an important part of a child’s sense of security (although I have seen our children as secure as barnacles, and with the grime so thick it had to be sanded off), not only because they keep him socially acceptable, but also because they are duties of stewardship over a body God has given him.
It is when we exaggerate these things out of proportion that they can hurt not only his self-confidence, but also his spiritual values. When impeccable personal habits begin to masquerade as personal purity, they can create great moral confusion.
Virtue is not synonymous with cleanliness, although it’s nice if the virtuous can be clean.
“Letting children play in the dirt, making roads, bridges, lakes, and buildings is creating the next generation of builders and makers.
Consider this: any project that they get involved in – whether it be music, painting, mud building, writing, storytelling, stacking, making tents, performing plays, making cameras, or whatever – that result in someone being able to say, ‘Wow, that is interesting, what are you going to do next?’ is creativity.” – NGJ
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From Questions Parents Ask About Their Children, Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R., 1950’s
How much independence should a child be allowed?
The independence he needs to become a self-reliant, fully developed adult able to meet and solve the problems of life with competence and correctness. . . . . The independence that is, not license, but controlled and directed initiative . . . . . The independence that has in it respect for law and a prompt obedience coupled with encouragement toward candor, honesty, and the ability — proportionate to his age — to handle the affairs of his life.
Mothers who in great fondness for their children bind them to their waists sometimes do the children irreparable wrong. Parents who make of their children little parrots will have parrots and not people.
Independence may be a good thing . . . . , and it may be bad.
A child should be encouraged to manage his toys, keep his own room and belongings tidy without constant direction and supervision.
He should be trusted to the degree in which he has justified trust. He is trusted in small things. If he stands up to that trust, the trust is increased. If he fails, while the trust is not immediately removed, he is corrected and warned that the punishment for further failure will be the withdrawal of trust.
He is praised when he does things well and on his own. He is encouraged to think out his own problems and to bring his answers or solutions to his parents. If his solutions are correct, he is again praised. If they are not correct, he is sent to think his problems over again . . . . , or he discusses them with his parents until he is led — without too much emphasis on the leading — to the right answers or solutions.
It is important that children do their own thinking — guided and directed but their actual thinking not done for them. It is important that they learn to feel responsible for small obligations and duties where their possessions are concerned, their associates, their brothers and sisters, the house.
It is a mistake for an adult to do a child’s homework for him. Homework can be a fine training in independent thinking and acting. If the parent does the homework, the parent might as well pick up the books the next day and go to school, leaving the child at home.
But helping a child by pointing out the methods and then letting the child do the actual work is something quite different.
A child should learn early some independence in the control of money. A few unrestricted pennies given him can in the course of time be increased to his allowance, which he learns to use wisely by his actual, gradual wise use of it.
It seems that a large part of the failures in marriage can be traced to children who were childishly dependent upon their parents and who as adults cannot stand on their own feet.
Certainly many a failure in business and the professions is a person who never got the training that might have made him a fully developed, mature individual.
That safe attainment of the adult stage is most important, and it requires on the part of parents skill and planning.
Do you think that children should obey on the instant, as they did thirty and more years ago? Or should we allow them to act as individuals rather than as rebels?
The records show that the Army and Navy had a tough time in World War II with the youth who had learned to take his time to think over a command. A lot of training and some rigid, blind discipline were demanded before these young men learned to obey a command first and think about it afterward.
“Gold braid” in the Navy is a patently clear symbol. The man who wears it gets instant obedience. The reason for that is obvious: In battle, with ships and airplanes moving at lightning speed, there is no time to thresh out the rightness or the wrongness of an order. There is time only for action, obedient instant action.
So in the training for battle there are only three recognized answers: “Yes, sir!” “No, sir!” and “No excuse, sir!”
It seems strange that the very young people who take time to sit down and think over a parental order, obey with the response of an electric light to a switch whenever on the gridiron football field the quarterback gives a command and shouts a signal. Believe me the athletic coach of the winning team would be amazed if the athletes practiced on him the weighing and appraising of orders that are actually encouraged by some parents.
Let’s go back however to the parents. Parents have the God-given right to command. If they give stupid or silly or wrong orders, they are abusing their rights. They should not expect their children to obey this type of order with other than reluctance or bad grace.
If the commands are correct, valuable, helpful, and important, the parents have every right in the world to be obeyed — and promptly. There can be good reasons for the parents’ explaining, if there is plenty of time, why they have given a certain hard command. But parents have no slightest obligation to submit to the judgment of a child a command that is right and correct.
However parents may possibly have, even in their own way of thinking, a way of lumping under the head of commands directions that are not by any means entirely commands.
A parent may make a request: “Son, will you please go to the corner and pick up a package of biscuits for me?”
She may make a suggestion: “It looks as if it’s going to be a little chilly. It might be a good idea for you to wear your sweater.”
He may open a discussion: “Son, what do you think about your taking a turn wiping dishes for mother?”
He may issue a command: “Hereafter you will be in by eleven o’clock on Friday nights.”
To call all these very different things commands is to use language carelessly. The request for the biscuits is like any request that one civilized and well-mannered person makes to another.
Adults do not ask unreasonable favors of adults. A decent adult does not greet a polite request with a rude “No!”
Since parents are training their children for participation in social living, they try to make reasonable — and only reasonable — requests; they expect civil and courteous answers. But a request is not a command.
The suggestion that the child wear a sweater remained in the realm of suggestion. It was not a command; hence to punish the boy if he did not wear his sweater would be to blame him for a not incorrect use of logic. He might answer the suggestion thus: “I’ll be too hot if I wear my sweater. I was out, and I found that it isn’t nearly so cold as it looks.” Reasonable enough, with the whole matter balanced by fact and argument.
If the parent turns this into a command, the whole matter is changed. But that parent is not too wise who constantly offers suggestions that are not suggestions at all but commands couched in delicate language.
A discussion is a discussion, whether between adult and adult or between adult and child. “What do you think about . . . .” was the form that the opening gambit about the dishes took. If his answer is, “I can’t, dad; I have homework . . . . .” or “At that time mother wants me to empty the scrap baskets,” he is only following an adult lead.
An appeal to his love of his mother should naturally lead to a generous response. But here too it is a suggestion calling for a free and reasonable response, not for obedience to a command.
The last statement — the hour at which the son or daughter is to be in on Friday nights is a command. I am taking it for granted that the reasons for the command are obvious or have been sufficiently clarified. The order is not given, I hope, out of the blue, with no reasons back of it, a command based merely on adult caprice.
The father is a reasonable adult and commands something that he knows is for the good of the boy or girl or the common good of the household. He may even have permitted a discussion on the matter prior to the command.
When the command comes however, the command is a command. A parent is simply failing in his duty to the boy if, once the command is given, he sits back until the youngster has decided that he will or will not accept the order.
It is wise to make not too many requests. Children should not be servants or slaves. Most often only suggestions are needed. A discussion should not be started if the adults do not intend to be swayed by reason and argument.
It is unfair for an adult who has decided to give a command, no matter how the arguments go, apparently to lead the child into a discussion of the pros and cons of the command. Real commands are most effective if they are given not too frequently, if they are concerned with things of real moment, if they are reasonable in content, if they are given once and for all, and if they are held as the law until circumstances change and the need for the commands disappear.
“Think of the Queen of Heaven and Lady of the World as humble housewife at the same time that she is mother and caretaker of God’s Son. It makes me sigh of tenderness, fills me with goodwill and love for the small and great chores of the home. How fragrant would be the robes that this pure lily washed. How tasty would be the food her delicate hands prepared. From her holy lips, not a whisper, no complaint or claim, only praise and sweet words. A life of worship and continuous obedience, in the freedom of those who choose to love – were she to kneel in prayer or clean the floor.” -Veronica Mendes, A Mulher Forte
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The mother of Cardinal Vaughan had fourteen children–eight boys and six girls.
Remarkable educator that she was, she believed that she owed the best part of her time to her little world.
The children’s special room looked like the nave of a Church for each little boy and girl had his statue to care for and they never failed to put flowers before it on special occasions.
With what art this mother settled a quarrelsome boy or a vain or untruthful little girl!
With the littlest ones she was not afraid to become a little one and, like them, to sit on the ground.
Thus, placed on their level, as the biography of her Jesuit son expresses it, she used to put her watch to their ears and explain to them that someday God would stop the tick-tock of their lives and that He would call to Himself in heaven His children whom He had lent to earth.
In the course of the day, Mrs. Vaughan loved to pick out one or other of her band, preferably two, chosen on the basis of their earnest efforts or some particular need for improvement, and make a visit to Church.
Yes, they should pray at home too; they had God in their hearts; but in each village or in each section of town, there is a special house generally of stone where Our Lord lives as He once lived at Nazareth except that now He remains hidden under the appearances of a little Host.
She explained to them that prayer consists not in reciting set words but in conversing with Jesus.
And if they had been very, very good she would let them kiss the altar cloth and sometimes the altar itself, a favor the children regarded as most precious.
When they had beautiful flowers in their greenhouse they brought them to Church; happy and proud were the ones who were entrusted with delivering the bouquets or the vases of flowers!
Besides the visits made to “Jesus, the Head” there were also visits to the “members of Jesus,”
“What you do to the least of My brethren you do to me.”
And Mrs. Vaughan explained to each child according to its capacity to understand the great duty of charity and the reason for this duty.
She did not hesitate to take them into sordid homes.
Sometimes people were horrified to see her take the children to see the sick who suffered from a contagious disease. Wasn’t she afraid her children would contract it?
But kind, firm Mrs. Vaughan did not allow herself to be the least disturbed by such comments.
“Sickness? Well if one of them contracted a sickness while visiting the poor that would still not be too high a price to pay for Christian charity.
Besides God will protect my children much better than mother-love can.
Here was true formation in piety, true formation in charity. Here too was encouragement to follow a high ideal.
Herbert, the eldest of the boys, was once quite concerned over a hunting trip that the weather threatened to spoil. “Pray mamma,” he said, “that we have good weather!“
And Mrs.Vaughan, more concerned to lift her son’s soul than to secure him a pleasurable time, answered smilingly, “I shall pray that you will be a priest!”
How the boy took such an answer at the moment is not recorded. We do know this: Herbert was . . . the future Cardinal!
Vaughan also gave her children an appreciation of the fine arts.
She herself played the harp delightfully. From time to time she gathered her household about her for a gala time playing, singing, and a bit of mimicry; she always used the occasion to remind the children that there are other melodies and other joys more beautiful than those of earth.
“At a certain moment when going to confession to a Capuchin father, St. Therese came to understand that it was just the opposite: her “defects did not displease God” and her littleness attracted God’s love, just as a father is moved by the weakness of his children and loves them still more as soon as he sees their good will and sincere love.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe,The Way of Trust and Love, http://amzn.to/2fpXVzl Painting by Millie Childers
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Often, despite the most sincere efforts of parents, a child for some inexplicable reason fails to develop into a normal adolescent or adult who lives up to his responsibilities respectably and honorably.
A son or daughter may be attracted to evil companions and may lead a life which causes public scandal. An offspring may drink, gamble, or develop other habits that become occasions of sin, if they are not sinful themselves.
Or, after acquiring a limited education, he may become sophisticated and turn away from the teachings of the Church because they are not modern enough for him.
Whenever such conditions occur, good Catholic parents are sorely tried.
If they could they would correct their child’s conduct and place him once again on the path to Christian virtue. Unfortunately, however, their influence over a child begins to wane after his early years.
A tendency toward evil that you can correct easily in your child of six will be difficult to eradicate when he is fourteen and may become impossible to remove when he is twenty-two. The plight of parents with offspring who cause shame should remind all mothers and fathers that the time to implant habits of virtue is when children are young–not when they are adults.
With our present knowledge of the causes of delinquency, promiscuity, and other shameful deviations from normal behavior, we can advise parents that scoldings, recriminations and threats are almost always foredoomed to failure.
Our Lord clearly taught in his gentleness toward Mary Magdalene that sinners can be won over by love, affection and sympathetic understanding–and that one may legitimately hope for reformation regardless of the depth to which the sinner has declined.
Parents must never cease to strive, by prayer, example and teaching, to help their wayward child to save his soul. They should create a framework of love and affection in which to discuss his problems with him and, by reasoning with him, try to get him to mend his ways.
Of course, you cannot condone sin. If your child uses your home for sinful purposes, you are morally obligated to prevent him from doing so.
If he refuses to be married in the Church, you cannot attend a civil ceremony and thus implicitly bless his action. You must always avoid giving others the impression that you support your child in actions which violate moral teaching.
On the other hand, you should make it plain that while you deplore and detest the sin, you love the sinner. By your unquestioned concern, kindness and sacrifice, and despite obstacles which seem insurmountable and disappointments which bring you to the border of despair, you may yet see a reawakening of his conscience and his ultimate return to you and the Church.
The need for sympathy and love is especially important in the case of a daughter who becomes pregnant outside marriage and faces the awful prospect of bearing a child without a father.
In older generations, such a sin was often considered justification for her parents to turn her away from their door and to thrust her, hopeless and friendless, upon a scoffing world. Such cold-blooded lack of charity was often a greater sin than the act which prompted it. Fortunately very few modern parents so lack compassion that they would reject a daughter at the moment when she needs them most.
Girls in such a predicament often have not received the parental love to which they are entitled. Some grow up in an atmosphere where they are deprived of natural objects for their affection, and they respond unthinkingly to the first individual who offers them kindness.
Of course, every person must fully accept the consequences for his or her own sins. But parents should also humbly consider whether their actions have not contributed to the tragedy. Even where they are not at fault, they should have charity.
When pregnancies occur outside of marriage, the question usually arises of whether the girl should marry the man responsible for her condition.
Experience teaches that marriages based solely upon a physical relationship which has produced unforeseen consequences stand little chance of providing happiness for either man, woman or child. If a strong bond of affection exists between the boy and girl, however, marriage may be considered a wise solution.
If marriage is impossible or undesirable, plans should be made for the girl to live away from her home community in the later stages of her pregnancy. Many institutions exist to provide kind care and sympathetic attention to unmarried mothers.
Often, they also arrange for the infant to be adopted, because the unmarried mother almost invariably lacks resources to provide the proper home environment for her child during his long years of dependency. The parish priest will know where institutions of this kind are located within convenient distance of the community where the girl lives.
When this procedure is followed, the unwed mother can return to her home without becoming the subject of a public scandal. Now, as during her pregnancy, her parents should display the Christian virtue of forgiveness. They should do all within their power to encourage her to turn from past habits and associations and to build a new life with courage and trust in God.
“Patience is a powerful help in married life. It controls and restrains strains angry feelings and outbursts of anger. It is a mature virtue that shows superiority of intellect, practical wisdom in daily life, strength of will, and a good, humble, and benevolent heart.
The more spiritual progress you make, the more patient and gentle you will become. Patience procures for you love and influence. It attracts people to you and is of the utmost importance in the family, since you spend so much of your lives together.” – Fr. Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook https://amzn.to/2Dbcimb (afflink)
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Article by Father Raoul Plus, S.J., Christ in the Home
The child is naturally innocent. Moreover, if baptized, it possesses with infused faith a special quality of innocence which comes to it from the presence of the Holy Spirit in its soul. We must avoid any diminishing of this innocence.
It is a great mistake to think that because the child is innocent, “it doesn’t understand,” and consequently to take no precautions; to be lacking in vigilance over the child’s bathing and dressing, to let it run about without clothes, unsupervised before its brothers and sisters.
The adults of the family, too, should avoid any immodesty either in posture or dress before the little one; they should keep out of its way pictures of questionable decency.
True, at the time, the harm may be slight or even negative, but the child has eyes and a memory; it registers everything, stores it all away.
Great care should be exercised for bodily cleanliness to prevent the formation of bad habits that might result from discomfort. It is best to separate the sexes for sleep.
As the children grow older, we must be vigilant over their choice of playmates. We should protect them from any pictures, statues, advertisements or entertainment that can disturb them.
We are wise if we keep the children busy even to the point of fatigue, but a fatigue in keeping with their age and strength. We ought also to inspire them to absolute confidence. In addition we must seize every opportunity to show them positively the grandeur of purity.
People sometimes attempt to rear children as if they were without sex. Children are either little boys or little girls.
Long before the awakening of their sex instincts, in fact from their babyhood, their personality is distinctly individual and gives foreshadowings of fatherhood or of motherhood.
Sex, although its characteristic functions do not become active until the onset of puberty, impregnates the whole physical and moral being from the beginning.
Consequently, it is important to foresee long in advance the unfolding of that providential power which is still dormant yet capable of being influenced beneficially or detrimentally at this early stage according to the wisdom of the folly of its training.
We should not, however, be satisfied with a purely negative training to holy purity, a training made up for the most part of wise precautions.
There is need, too, for positive training in this beautiful virtue.
This positive training will in part consist of education in true facts, a discreet and chaste explanation of the functions of the generative organs according to God’s plan; an explanation as complete as the age of the child permits or requires.
The duty of giving this instruction falls largely upon the mother who only too often finds herself inadequately prepared.
It is a fact that even very young children become curious about the difference of the sexes as well as the mystery of generation and they express their curiosity with embarrassing candor and directness in blunt questions: “Where do babies come from?”
In general, no one is better qualified than the mother to give the initial instructions and information delicately, without wounding innocence or troubling and shocking the child’s keenly susceptible soul by confronting it too brusquely with disturbing new concepts.
It is better for the father to instruct the boys. Parents have the grace of state; furthermore, they know or they ought to know how to speak to their children and exactly what to say according to what the child already knows or does not know, according to its impressionability, its probable emotional reaction, its intelligence, its imagination.
The initial instruction must always be strictly individual, never group instruction. Such instruction should be given early enough, in time, but never prematurely.
Rarely should a mass of information be given at once, but nearly always imparted progressively. One must never give any false information, but neither is one obliged to tell all there is to be told at one blow.
Only such knowledge should be given as is necessary to clarify the present difficulty, to satisfy the child’s curiosity at the time. Later when occasion offers to complete the information, it can be completed.
The introduction of the child to the facts of life must be made with simplicity, without excessive preambles and beating about the bush, objectively without clumsiness; they must be presented as something quite natural but explained in an atmosphere of earnestness, dignity and respect.
There must be nothing affected or borrowed in one’s manner or tone, only calmness and a natural everyday voice uncolored by emotionalism.
The child, however, must be made to realize that he has been given no new subject for chatter with his playmates and friends; if there is something he wishes to speak of later regarding his new information or if there is something he does not understand, he will always be able to ask mother or father about it; he should speak to them about it.
A very sensible mother concluded the instructions she gave her little one with these few words:
“What I have just told you is a secret, our secret. Now that you know it, give me your hand and promise me that you will not question other people about it or ever speak to anyone else about it, but only to me.”
A little child will be flattered by such a mark of confidence and being naturally pure will sense the reason for this recommendation as clearly as if it had been expressed.
In addition, if the child is used to living in an atmosphere of filial trust and abandonment, of respect for itself, of training in sacrifice, supernatural generosity, daily contact with the invisible world through prayer and love of God, its instruction will prove singularly easy.
We cannot overemphasize the fact that “training to purity must be set in the framework of a solid all-round training of the will, the conscience, the emotions, the imagination and the whole body.”
To enlighten the child regarding sex will serve for nothing and can even be harmful if it has not first been established in fidelity in the light of spirituality, and in energy of will.
In other words, formal training to purity must be preceded by training pure and simple. It will be possible to speak clearly to a child who lives in an environment that is deeply impregnated with Christianity.
In his tranquil soul, innocent and disciplined as it is, useful initiations can take place with profit and without causing any trouble; his delicate conscience will understand; his refined and mortified emotions will yield readily to the requirements of modesty, and he will not be stimulated to an unhealthy curiosity.
We can change the world within our own families. We do not need heroic deeds, exceptional intelligence or extraordinary talents. Every day, our daily duties, our interactions with our family, our living out the Faith in the small ordinary things, will be the thread that weaves the beautiful rug that future generations will be walking upon and building upon…. Finer Femininity
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Put your family ahead of your activities outside your home
Marriage demands companionship. The wish to be with the one loved is a sign of true love. To be satisfied being with each other only when this can hardly be avoided leads to taking love for granted.
So many people crowd their lives with too much activity and squeeze out of their schedule some of the things they would like to do or ought to do. They are doing many things that are good, but they are neglecting other things that are better and more important.
Perhaps this is because they lose sight of the primacy of the obligations arising from their family and home.
Your first duty is to your home and family. You have solemnly sworn an obligation to work for their happiness and salvation.
To be successful, families must be happy; and to be happy, the members must anticipate and fulfill the reasonable needs and desires of one another.
Trust in God
You are assured of God’s help. The Church teaches that through the sacrament of Matrimony, you and your spouse are assured of God’s constant help. Therefore, you must firmly trust in God.
In the next life, you may expect still greater blessings if on earth you have tried to build your home on the model of the Holy Family of Nazareth. God is never outdone in generosity.
If you serve Him as well as you can, you can be certain that He will bless you abundantly. If, on the other hand, you deliberately break His laws, you can be sure of depriving yourself and your family of His blessing.
The primary requisite for family happiness is union with God, who is the source of all happiness in this world and in the next. No one has such powerful means and more frequent opportunities of being united with God than a conscientious Catholic.
Keep in touch with God through the frequent reception of the sacraments of Penance and the Eucharist and by much prayer. Work hard for your family and their happiness as if everything thing depended upon you. Pray to God and trust Him even more, because everything really depends upon Him.
Our Lord said, “Abide in me, and I in you…. Apart from me you can do nothing.””
Patience is a powerful help in married life. It controls and restrains strains angry feelings and outbursts of anger. It is a mature virtue that shows superiority of intellect, practical wisdom in daily life, strength of will, and a good, humble, and benevolent heart.
The more spiritual progress you make, the more patient and gentle you will become. Patience procures for you love and influence. It attracts people to you and is of the utmost importance in the family, since you spend so much of your lives together.
Impatience, on the other hand, drives people away. It does no good and much harm, especially in the case of parents who are engaged in the rearing of children.
Impatience is certainly not the spirit of Jesus. In order to be patient, you must be prayerful and prepared for the inevitable unpleasantness in this life.
Although you will never be able to arrange matters so that there will be nothing to provoke you to impatience, you can live by the principle that there is no reason in the world for getting impatient.
Avoid being unjustly angry
Anger, which overrides the requirement of justice and charity, is a destroyer of family peace and happiness. There is such a thing as just anger, and even Christ became angry when He saw something wrong that deeply offended Him.
But anger is wrong when it is out of proportion to whatever occasioned it, when it becomes senseless fury, or when it accomplishes more harm than good.
In the family, you must practice forbearance, clemency, and patience, lest your children suffer from anger that runs wild. Anger is a homewrecker of deadly efficiency. It causes family members to lose respect for each other, and where respect is missing, love can hardly survive.
If you indulge in anger frequently, conditions get worse instead of better, because you are constantly seeking new, sharper ways of hurting others.
Anger leads to deep dislike and brooding hatred. This is the worst possible atmosphere in which to raise children. Giving in to anger was condemned by Christ. Outbursts of temper are contrary to the whole idea of charity that He preached.
There are occasions, however, when reasonable anger may be a forceful means of correction or the lesser of two evils. Scripture says, “Be angry, but sin not.”
You may be justly angry when your spouse suggests something sinful. In that case, you are directing your anger to the correction or prevention of sin, and your anger may be justified if it is held in reasonable bounds.
A short flurry of anger may at times be the lesser of two evils – for instance, if you are temperamentally inclined to hold a deep grudge for a long time unless you bring the matter into the open at the start and so end it.
A secretly nursed grudge may also be the cause of anger. A grudge is a permanent refusal to forgive a real or imaginary injury. As long as you hold a grudge, you are inviting anger, and you are in some degree responsible for anger in others.
This anger can be detected in your tone of voice, in the silence of your mood, and in the very atmosphere of your home. If you want to prevent explosions of anger in your home, do not permit grudges to last more than a day.
Correction of temper is mostly a matter of self-control. Hide your feelings of displeasure. Be silent when you feel like saying harsh words.
Cultivate a spirit of forgiveness and humility. You will seldom rejoice over your explosions of anger. But you will be glad that you did not say the things you wanted to say when you were angry.
“Holiness means happiness. Holy people are happy people at peace with God, with others, and with themselves.
There is only one requirement. You must do God’s will. This embraces various obligations and gives you corresponding rights and privileges.
This is the lesson of the Holy Family. The will of God must count for everything in our daily lives. Prosaic deeds done for God can lead to spectacular holiness.
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were human, intensely human in the best sense of the word. They show us how our lives, too, should be human–truly warm and Godlike.” -Fr. Lovasik
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A balanced approach to the subject of health written for Catholic teachers….
From The Catholic Teacher’s Companion, 1924
An ounce of sanctity with exceptionally good health does more for the saving of souls than striking sanctity with an ounce of health.—St. Ignatius
Carlyle remarks that health and holiness are etymologically first cousins. And Dr. James J. Walsh has pointed out that health and holiness “have many surprising relations, and some of them contradict current notions; but it must not be forgotten that they are really coordinate functions.
For while we talk about the influence of the mind on the body, and the body on the mind, we must not forget that these two constitute one being; and there is quite literally no idea which does not make itself felt in the body, and no emotion which does not make itself felt in the mind. Wholeness of body and soul that is, health and holiness—work together for good in that mysterious compound we know as man.”
The Claims of Body and Soul
Body and soul are twin gifts from God, and bring with them responsibilities, and it is no sign of superior care of the soul to be slothful and neglectful in regard to the body.
Asceticism is another and quite a different thing. It is one thing to discipline one’s body; it is quite a different thing to neglect one’s teeth, or wash one’s body, or see that one’s food is digestibly prepared, or masticate it properly, or take reasonable exercise and fresh air.
Habits of this sort may quite as easily be owing to slothfulness as to superior spirituality. The distinction is not always observed. The wisdom of the ancient sages proclaiming the demand of the sane soul for a sane body has been further established by the insistence of the Christian saints, notably the founders of Religious Orders, Sts. Benedict and Ignatius, of Bernards, the Franciscans, and the Teresas.
St. Benedict’s Rule contains wise provisions for the bodily as well as the spiritual well-being of its followers. If the monks were to work, they were adequately to eat.
Think of it! “A pound of bread daily and two dishes of cooked food at each meal!”
“The habits that are to be worn are to fit the wearer, be sufficiently warm, and not too old.”
Again, each of the brethren is to take “from six to eight hours of unbroken sleep daily, with the addition of a siesta in summer”; each likewise is to have “a blanket, a coverlet, mattress and a pillow!”
St. Francis of Assisi strictly enjoins the Superiors of his Order to “take special care to provide for the needs of the sick and the clothing of the friars, according to the places, seasons, and cold climates.”
Health and Long Life
These are some obvious illustrations of how wisely the saints provided for the body—other folks’ bodies especially: they did not seem always to mind so much for their own.
Our sisters should take their teachings to heart for, as a rule, they neglect unduly the care of their bodily health. The Rev. Arthur Barry O’Neill, C.S.C., has made a thorough study of this subject and we shall follow him as a reliable guide in the matter.
We agree with him that an examination of the mortality statistics of our Religious Communities of women will probably show that the longevity of Sisters is by no means so notable as one should expect.
It may sound somewhat extravagant in the statement, but it is probably verifiable in fact, that from thirty to forty percent of American Sisters die before “their time comes,” their death being of course, subjectively, entirely in conformity with God’s will; but being, objectively, merely in accordance with God’s permission, which is quite another matter.
Now, long life is a blessing. As Spirago says, “It is a great boon, for the longer one lives, the more merits one can amass for eternity.”
So precious a boon is it that God promised it as a reward for keeping the fourth commandment, a fact of which St. Paul reminds the Ephesians, “Honor thy father and thy mother . . . that it may be well with thee, and thou mayest be long-lived upon earth.”
Accordingly, any procedure, any scheme of life, which contributes even indirectly to the shortening of one’s days assuredly needs unusually strong reasons to justify it; and, with all due deference be it said, such procedure, negative if not positive, is not uncommon in our convents.
Neglecting to take daily exercise out-of-doors may appear a small thing in youth or early middle life, but there is nothing surer that such neglect is seriously detrimental to health; and, exceptional cases apart, poor health is correlative of a truncated career rather than of normal length of days.
Underlying this disregard of the open-air exercise which all physicians declare to be essential to bodily well-being, there is probably in the minds of many Sisters an inchoate, if not fully developed, conviction that vigorous, robust health is more or less incompatible with genuine spirituality, that an occasional illness of a serious nature and a quasi-chronic indisposition at the best of times are, after all, quite congruous in professed seekers after religious perfection, incipient followers of the saints.
That is a pernicious fallacy of which their spiritual directors and confessors should strenuously endeavor to rid them.
Ill-health directly led by God is doubtless a blessing; but it is also an exception. In the ordinary course of God’s providence, men and women, in the cloister as in the world, are in duty bound to take such care of their bodies as will result in the greater efficiency of their minds and souls, and in an increasingly acceptable service of their whole being to their Heavenly Father.
Health is to be sought for, not as an end, but as an excellent means, most frequently indeed an indispensable means, of attaining the true end of both religious and laity, which is holiness, or sanctity.
Theory and Practice Among the Saints
The saints themselves thoroughly understood this truth, and their preaching frequently emphasizes it, even though the practice of some of them, in the matter of austerities and penances, does not apparently conform thereto.
Apparently, for in many a case it was precisely the superb health of the saintly body that rendered the austerities and penances possible.
Like the trained pugilists of the present day, those old-time spiritual athletes could “stand punishment” to an extent that would permanently disable physical weaklings.
It is to be remembered, also, that some of these unmerciful castigators of their bodies–St. Ignatius and St. Francis of Assisi, for instance-frankly avowed in their later years that they had overdone the business of chastising the flesh.
St. Ignatius took good care to offset the influence of his Manresa example in this matter by making due provisions, in his rule and his counsels to his Religious, for proper heed of bodily health.
Time and time again he gave, in varied phrase and amplified form, the advice stated in this, his general precept: “Let all those things be put away and carefully avoided that may injure, in any way whatsoever, the strength of the body and its powers.”
Since sanctity is, after all, only sublimated common sense, it is not surprising to find other saintly founders, reformers, and spiritual directors of Religious Orders giving the same judicious counsel. “If health is ruined how is the Rule to be observed?” pertinently asks St. Teresa.
Writing to some of her nuns who were inclined to follow their own ideas in the matter of prayer and penance, the same great Carmelite advises: “Never forget that mortification should serve for spiritual advancement only. Sleep well, eat well. It is infinitely more pleasing to God to see a convent of quiet and healthy Sisters who do what they are told than a mob of hysterical young women who fancy themselves privileged. . .”
“Govern the body by fasts and abstinence as far as health permits,” says the Dominican Rule. “I have seen,” writes St. Catherine of Siena, “many penitential devotees who lacked patience and obedience because they studied to kill their bodies and not their self-will.”
To every Religious Order and its members may well be applied the words of a Jesuit General, Father Piccolomini, to his own subjects: “It may be said that an unhealthy Religious bears much the same relation to the Order of which he is a member as a badly knit or dislocated bone does to the physical body. For just as a bodily member, when thus affected, not only cannot perform its own proper functions, but even interferes with the full efficiency of the other parts, so when a Religious has not the requisite health, his own usefulness is lost and he seriously interferes with the usefulness of others.”
Health – A Great Good
Were further testimony needed to expose the fallacy that health is something to be slighted, rather than cultivated, by a fervent nun, it could be furnished in superabundance. “Health,” says Cardinal Newman, “is a good in itself, though nothing came of it, and is especially worth seeking and cherishing.”
In 1897, Pope Pius X, then Cardinal Sarto, reported to Rome concerning his seminary in Venice: “It is my wish, in a word, to watch the progress of my young men both in piety and in learning, on which depends in a great measure the exercise of their ministry later on, but I do not attach less importance to their health.”
A distinguished director of souls in our times, the late Archbishop Porter, favored one of his spiritual children, a nun, with the following sane advice:
“As for evil thoughts, I have so uniformly remarked in your case that they are dependent upon your state of health, that I say without hesitation: begin a course of Vichy and Carlsbad. . . Better far to eat meat on Friday than to be at war with every one about us.
I fear much, you do not take enough food and rest. You stand in need of both, and it is not wise to starve yourself into misery. Jealousy and all similar passions become intensified when the body is weak. . . Your account of your spiritual condition is not very brilliant; still, you must not lose courage. Much of your present suffering comes, I fear, from past recklessness in the matter of health.”
This is merely repeating in other words what St. Francis of Sales, three centuries before Archbishop Porter, wrote to a nun of his time: “Preserve your physical strength to serve God within spiritual exercises, which we are often obliged to give up when we have indiscreetly overworked ourselves.”
What has been said should disabuse some minds of the idea that disregard of bodily well-being is a condition, if not an essential, of holiness; or the other no less dangerous prejudice that adequate reasonable care of the body, if carried out with the proper spirit and intention, does not of itself include thorough discipline of the soul.
Francis Thompson has well said in the preface to his Health and Holiness: “The laws of perfect hygiene, the culture of the ‘sound body,’ not for its own sake, but as the pliant, durable instrument of the soul, are found more and more to demand such a degree of persevering self-restraint and self-resistance as constitutes an ascesis, a mortification, no less severe than that enjoined by the most rigorous masters of the spiritual life.”
Supernaturalized as it surely will be by the purity of intention so characteristic of Sisters, such mortification will be no less a spiritual asset than a physical boon.
What Bishop Hedley says in his Spiritual Retreat for Religious is very much to the point: “There are certain things which are the best promoters of health and cheerfulness—viz., fresh air, exercise, and recreation.
They are duties, too, in a Religious Community. In such houses it is a very common thing to meet with nervous complaints which entirely arise from the neglect of these three powerful tonics of the human system.
I do not say that this is the case with all. But it is a remarkable fact that those members of a Community who have the most active duties are usually the most healthy in mind and body, while the others are the reverse.
These two things, fresh air and exercise, are of the utmost importance even from a spiritual point of view. They are not material, but really supernatural matters. The same is true of recreation. The three ought to be combined.”
“Who shall blame a child whose soul turns eagerly to the noise and distraction of worldliness, if his parents have failed to show him that love and peace and beauty are found only in God?” – Mary Reed Newland
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Not long ago, newspapers told the story of a twenty-seven-year-old man who had shot and killed his father. In prison, the man defiantly explained why he had done it.
Throughout his life, he had been interested in teaching as a career. But whenever he mentioned his aspiration, his father ridiculed it and told him that he must enter the family business. After completing a college course in business administration at his father’s dictation, the young man was placed at work in the family store.
It was evident that he was not equipped to do the kind of sales work necessary for success in the business, but his father drove him on with ridicule. Finally, he could stand it no longer and in frustrated rage performed the deed which shocked the public everywhere.
Like most occurrences which reach print, this was an extreme case. Few men kill their fathers because of differences over their careers, and few fathers callously demand that their children pursue vocations unsuited to them. Yet this story serves the useful purpose of pointing out that parents should give intelligent and sympathetic consideration to their child’s ambitions.
Another moral of the tragedy cited is, of course, that every person should decide his own course in life.
A consistent objective of his training as a child, adolescent, and young adult should be to enable him ultimately to be completely free in the sense that he can make his own decisions and accept complete responsibility for them.
Thus he alone should choose his life work, because its success or failure will depend upon him only. He alone has the intimate knowledge of his talents, motives and aspirations required to make a choice and to succeed in what he chooses.
But while your child must in the final analysis select this vocation by himself, you can help him to determine what his objectives should be.
Indeed, as a conscientious parent, you must do so. You must take a part in formulating standards which will guide him regardless of whether his future station, in the eyes of the world, is high or low.
Your child will often ask you what you want him to be when he grows up.
By your answers, you can implant ideals which will serve as his own guideposts. Moreover, you can help him recognize the importance of high objectives by your own daily conduct.
A father will strongly influence his son’s choice of a life work by his attitude toward his own occupation; by the respect he shows to priests, brothers, doctors, teachers and others who give of themselves to serve mankind; by his own attitudes about the monetary rewards of work and the things that money will–and will not–buy.
Likewise, a mother will influence her son and daughter by the amount of cheer she radiates as she does her daily household tasks; by the way she greets the nuns at school, whether it be with deference or indifference; by her attitudes toward neighbors and acquaintances with greater or fewer material possessions than she has.
Any worthy vocation should fulfill three requirements.
- It must help your child save his soul. At the very least, it must not, by its nature, constitute a hazard to salvation.
- It should serve mankind in some constructive way. As an extreme example, the young man who inherited a large sum of money and decided to devote his life exclusively to his own pleasure could hardly be said to have a worthy objective. Nor could the young woman who hoped to marry and practice artificial birth control so that she could lead a social life unhampered by the responsibilities of parenthood.
- The work should be within his capabilities. The youth who is helped to select a kind of work in which he has a reasonable chance of making progress is also more likely to achieve his first and second objectives as well.
It is worth noting carefully that this listing of basic objectives omits such goals as wealth, glory, power and similar allurements. For implicit in this listing of worthy objectives is the teaching of Jesus:
“For what does it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, but suffer the loss of his own soul?” (St. Matthew 16:26)
The emphasis is on true and lasting values–“treasures in heaven, where neither rust nor moth consumes, nor thieves break in and steal.” (St. Matthew 6:20) The Bible teaches us that “covetousness is the root of all evil” (1 Timothy 6:10) and that it is “easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” (St. Matthew 19:24)
Not only does an ambition to achieve wealth for its own sake violate Our Lord’s repeated teachings; it is not even suitable as a worldly ambition. One can search in vain for the man whose riches have brought even earthly happiness; the rich who achieve the serenity of those less favored financially usually do so only by using their wealth to serve others.
When you encourage your child to keep these three objectives constantly before him, you do not limit his number of choices in any substantial way. He can achieve all of his great goals–attain salvation, perform tasks which benefit mankind, and properly use his God-given talents–in either the religious or secular life.
“Sometimes the wife is tied to her mother’s apron strings and is emotionally immature. She refuses to shoulder the normal responsibility of a wife and mother.
Some married women harm their homes, their husbands, their children, and themselves by too much external activity: organizations, societies, luncheon groups, clubs, and civic committees.
Birth control is a cause for too much social life. A childless or almost childless home can drive women to expend their God-given energies for motherhood on vain external affairs.
Other causes are too much wealth and, therefore, too much leisure, so that even mothers of sizable families can hire people to do most of their work; and the appeal of social prominence.”
-Fr. Lawrence G. Lovasik. The Catholic Family Handbook https://amzn.to/2PDpph1 (afflink)
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From The Catholic Family Handbook by Fr. Lovasik
As the father is the head of the family, the mother is its heart. Just as Pope Pius XI speaks of the father as “strong in faith and manly in virtues,” he speaks of a mother as “pure and devoted.”
Elsewhere he says, “As the father occupies the chief place in ruling, so the mother may and ought to claim for herself the chief place in love.”
But the Holy Father speaks of supernatural love, not of the tender maternal love-instinct upon which the supernatural is built.
Natural love, which is excellent in itself, and offers the possibility of untold good, may even at times be a hindrance when you are imprudent and cannot keep your children truly obedient, cannot refuse what is harmful, and cannot punish if necessary.
It may be abused if it is made a wedge to separate the children from their father. Supernatural love exercises the strongest appeal. Of it are born piety, modesty, purity, and fear of the learned at the mother’s knee.
Every person has a supernatural destiny, to be worked out in time. He must be educated for what he must be and what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created.
That education is the result of the combined efforts of both parents. But in his youngest years, the child is almost exclusively under the mother’s guidance.
Your efforts are to produce effects that will have their final reckoning in eternity. Although your educational influence is of a nature entirely different from that of the father, your vocation as mother is equal in importance to your husband’s.
Most adults attest that mothers have had far more to do with the shaping of their character than fathers have.
But so necessary are both that if either is lacking for any cause whatever, the education of the children is seriously, and sometimes fatally, handicapped.
As far as possible, be at home with your children. As you nourished your child before he was capable of eating solid food, so in the early formative years, nature has determined that you must nourish your child in virtue.“We often live with this illusion. With the impression that all would go better, we would like the things around us to change, that the circumstances would change. But this is often an error. It is not the exterior circumstances that must change; it is above all our hearts that must change.” -Fr. Jacques Philippe, Searching For and Maintaining Peace, http://amzn.to/2oqVOv8 (afflink)
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