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. 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 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 tranquillity; 4 inoculate your family against further moral contamination. These purposes of the Church are the purposes of this book. For no matter what evil influences flourish outside your home, your family can be an impregnable refuge of Christian life.
Parents are partners with God. The success of your family depends upon your recognition of the fact that as a parent of a human life, you share one of the greatest of God's gifts--the magnificent act of creation. Your role is to procreate His children, and to educate them so that they may ultimately return to Him in heaven.
Only with Him can you realize your life's goals for yourself, your mate and your children; for, as we learn in childhood, the first purpose of our existence is to know, love and serve God in this life so that we may be happy with Him forever in the next one.get link
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To achieve its purpose, the family must be a triangle consisting of God, parents and children. Our Lord taught us this when He raised marriage--the fountainhead of the family--to the dignity of a sacrament. And through the sacrament, He provides the graces for true spiritual success in your family life regardless of the trials and tribulations you may face.
As your partner in parenthood, God will help you. His grace will make your home His dwelling place and the means of your sanctification. It will make you capable of greater love than you ever thought possible and will enable you, as a parent, to achieve levels of self-sacrifice beyond your dreams. And what it will enable you to achieve will lead not only to your own salvation but also to the salvation of the souls He has entrusted to your care. God's partnership with husbands and wives is nowhere more evident than in what might be called the "innate genius" of parents.
If you look about you, you doubtless can see many men and women who a short time ago seemed to be irresponsible and incompetent, poorly fitted for the many tasks which must be performed as parents.
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Yet today they are fathers and mothers and--thanks to God's grace--they are doing a proper job in caring for their children. Once you accept the great force of God's grace, you will never underestimate your own genius as a parent. Many of our own fathers and mothers were, by worldly standards, ignorant of psychiatry or psychology. Yet, by and large, they succeeded in bringing to adulthood men and women who walk in the path of goodness. They succeeded for one reason only: they understood their children's need for love, encouragement and direction, and they gave it.
Without child experts to guide them along each small step of the way, they instinctively provided what was best for their youngsters. Once you make yourself willing to accept the graces which God offers to you, you will do so too. You will achieve a natural competence as a parent that will produce more good in your children than any blueprint that a human authority can give you. What is a true Christian family? We probably can best appreciate the characteristics of a genuine God-fearing family by picturing it in operation in a representative home.
As Richard Cardinal Cushing of Boston has inspiringly described it: "The worthy Christian home finds a true Christian family abiding therein and growing in love and care for one another. This home is not constructed in prefabricated fashion in a few weeks or a few years--for it is not purely material.
Indeed its true character is achieved not through plaster and paint and sanitary plumbing, but through love and sweat and tears. It is a framework trimmed with remembered moments of joy; cemented by hours of suffering. It is a reflection of the personalities of those who dwell therein, an expression of their likes and dislikes. The true Christian home is an altar of sacrifice and a theater of comedies and drama; it is a place of work and a haven of rest.
If yours is a true Christian home, it is like a little church, where the family daily joins together in beautiful devotions--the family rosary, family night prayers and the act of consecration to the Sacred Heart. Life is viewed as Christ would have us view it.
There is great trust and confidence in His providence. Love, tenderness and forgiveness you find there, but also a high standard of moral living, obedience and discipline. Parents and children, whether they be rich or poor, share generously with each other, go without things if necessary, and bear trials and sufferings in patience. It is a little school, where your children learn to live and love as dignified human beings, to work for the good of others, and to serve their fellow man without thought of monetary gain.
It is a little recreation center, where the family relaxes in peace from outside woes and work. Playing together helps children and parents reconcile differences and adjust to each other's needs, and builds up the affectionate ties that last a lifetime. Most of us remember the starring roles we had at one time or another in our own homemade theater.
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It is the humorous incidents of the family that help develop pleasant and outgoing personalities--the good fun involving Mother and Dad and all the boys and girls which the uncrowded modern household misses. You can best live up to this picture of true family life if you keep as your ideal the life led by the Holy Family at Nazareth.
For there, as Cardinal Cushing goes on to say: " At Nazareth, patient industry provided what was required for food and raiment; there was contentment with little--and a concentration on the diminution of the number of wants rather than on the multiplication of sources of wealth. Better than all else, at Nazareth there was found that supreme peace of mind and gladness of soul which never fails to accompany the possession of a tranquil conscience.
At Nazareth one could witness a continuous series of examples of goodness, of modesty, of humility, of hard- working endurance, of kindness to others, of diligence in the small duties of daily life. You can imitate this model of the Holy Family only if you set out to make every member of your family more concerned about God and the things of God than about the things of this world.
You must live in the awareness that all that is done is done in the presence of God and that genuine happiness results only when we conform to His will. The triangle of God, parents and child. It cannot be stressed too often that you can leave a heritage of good for centuries simply by leading a holy life as a parent. For example, if you have six children, it is possible that within your lifetime you will have twenty-five or thirty grandchildren.
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They in turn may have more than children, and within a century perhaps 1, lives will reflect your influence to some extent. If you have been a good parent, thanks to you they may be good Christians--your advocates in heaven. If you are a bad example, you may leave a large number of evildoers as your contribution to God and humanity. As the Catholic Bishops of the United States pointed out in in their memorable formal statement, "The Child: Citizen of Two Worlds," the first requirement of good Catholic family life is that the children must know God.
However, as the Bishops emphasized, "there is a vast difference between 'knowing about God' and 'knowing God.