"Does it not strike you as a surprising fact that Catholic parents so often [not surprising in these days where this is the norm] urge their children to do what is asked of them from merely human motives and that everything about their homes tends to nourish ambition and luxury? They tell them how such and such a man of obscure birth has made himself famous by his eloquence [or sports ability, good looks, or goofy reality show stunts] or has acquired great riches and has married an heiress, that he has built himself a magnificent house and lives envied by all. Such examples are held up [more like forced upon] to the children, but the parents never think of talking to them of those who are great in the kingdom of heaven [ah, we'll leave that up to the priest on Sunday...]. If anyone else tries to speak of these things, the parents stop them as though they would spoil everything by such talk. [...just as long as the priest doesn't challenge us!]
There are mothers who take great care of their daughters' health [and appearance...] but little of their conscience. Far from forbidding them foolish and even bad books, indecent dresses, undesirable friends, indecent pictures, plays [movies], and dances [and immodest, unladylike sports], they allow them these things and even sometimes force them on their children.
Do not such parents know that spiritual fornication is a crime among Christians; that a look may kill a soul and that a desire or thought is enough to rob children of innocence and grace? [emphasis mine...pretty important point!]
Some mothers think that when they have brought a child into the world they have no further duty toward it. They hand it over to a nurse [or daycare] who may pass on her own bad inclinations to the child with the milk which nourishes it. From the hands of a nurse the child passes into those of a governess or tutor [or worse, a public or Catholic school!], who has perhaps been chosen without the parents' knowing if the person is good or bad! [I don't think the background check covers that - even in Catholic schools]
Yet marriage was instituted and is blessed only that children may be brought up in the fear of God. If only parents would take the trouble, what could they not do for their children!" [of course, this assumes parents are first open to life, and then actually open to parenting!]
On the education of children - Saint Claude de la Colombiere
comments in red - mine
"The lesser of two evils." It's a phrase bantied about in politics, education, business, ok, well in just about every aspect of life. This phrase is used to justify just about anything that might go against my ideas and philosphy of life, but seemingly demands a decision. I use the word justify loosely, for is there really any justice in choosing an evil?
As men we are constantly bombarded with decisions that demand a response. The challenge for many is to see that there may be more than just the two options presented...there may be a third way. Although many may think I am refering to politics, lets take a real life scenario that may be presented to a father in a properly patriarchal family: sports. What is a father to do when deciding how much his children will be involved in sports?
One might see that there are two options, either my children play in organized sports or they do not. If they do, that means practices and games which may conflict with family meals and religious observances. If the children are not involved in sports, well, they may be deprived of the physical outlet for excess energy and the learning experience of playing on a team. These two options are all many parents will ever consider. But wait, could there be a third or fourth option?
Let's face it, many of us just don't put the effort into thinking through these things until we learn that our child learned some new four letter words or worse yet, was exposed to some evil on a peer's cell phone while traveling with the team. We seem to be more concerned with being perceived as overprotective or controlling by other parents than holding a true standard of goodness in our homes. God forbid that our child would be deprived of the great learning experience of playing tee-ball!!!
So what is a father to do? The decision always has to start with our eternal goal in mind. What benefit is this to my child's soul and eternal salvation? What is the effect on the child's soul by opting out? The next step is to face our own insecurity and baggage - Why do I want my child to play midget football? Why do I feel like I am neglecting my child's welfare by choosing to not enroll him in the local soccer league? While this sports discussion is just an example, this decision making process goes for most every decision related to my family's welfare. Do I make decisions for the eternal good of all or am I earth-bound and making decisions based on worldly concerns?
Of course, the really hard part is facing the consequences of our decisions. Am I seeing my college-age child distancing himself from the faith because of his sports performance anxieties? Am I able to embrace the cross of children playing around the house, rather than farming them out to some volunteer soccer coach?
If I were to ask my parents if they knew what love is I am quite positive I would get an entirely different answer than if I were to ask a young couple in their college years. The word "love" is bantered about carelessly, even though many are afraid to either admit their love or to speak it out. Love can mean so many things to so many people...it can have theological and philosophical meanings...even Popes have written documents on love.
So what can I add by entering into the fray? Not much in the big picture, but when it comes to men living out their calling to imitate Christ in their homes, it means defining a very specific goal and action for that role. You see, men, as called by God to act as the priest, prophet, and king in their home are called to a very specific goal of their love. This goal, this end game is to see all of our family one day in Heaven. This goal, this ultimate end, is also the ultimate good, the Beatific Vision as it is called by theologians should guide all of our actions in the home.
Recently I was asked what I thought about video games in the home. When judged by the ultimate goal of eternity with our Heavenly Father, the answer seems clear to me. Unfortunately this clarity is not shared by many. The reason for this may be that many still have a somewhat worldly way of looking at things...I know I suffer from this quite often. Take for instance my post during the spring in which I confessed "motorcycle lust"; how does purchasing, riding, and enjoying the two-wheeled beast help me obtain my ultimate goal? If I am honest I will say that it won't, in fact, it could be a great hindrance to me achieving my goal.
Back to the video games. This, of course, is a question faced by many christians these days. Entertainment of all sorts is thrown at us in a constant barrage...sports, games, electronics, movies, parties....only the strongest ones make it through unscathed (and I don't claim to be one of them). These things are like grenades thrown into the home, if we don't thrown them out they are going to blow up and wreak havoc on our family. Why do I call them grenades? Well, let's go back to how we judge the worth of something, does it help us and our family obtain our goal of eternity with God? In my mind, video games are the most clear...if anything they steal a soul away from Christ by initiating the child into immoral fantasy where killing, maiming, stealing, and gore are acceptable. It also draws them into an unreality, ie, driving, sports, fighting, etc, all without having to lift more than a thumb. I have even heard a child state that he was great at football, even though he never actually played outside of his family room! Once confronted with the reality of slippery grass, flying pigskins, boys larger than himself, and the need to run, jump, throw, and catch...he was totally flumoxed.
So the grenade is that thing that forced its way into the home, blows up, all to the destruction of the home and its members, in this case, video games.
Now back to love. As men we show our love in many ways, but the most important is to "love" our wife and children into Heaven. While kisses and hugs, flowers and presents may get us a listen from our family, in the end, our leadership, our Christ-like bearing, our sacrificial manliness will be the greatest help to our family. In these times it is like a heavy snowstorm leaving three feet of snow on the ground. The true TMM man will shovel the path to clear a way for his family, and then guide his wife to the path, going before her, and then he will call his children, guide them, and at times carry them along the path. Is this what we do? or do we just throw them into the snow?
The following is a quote that really convicted me that the sin I commit doesn't just affect me...it also affects my children. As I am duty bound to raise them in the saintly virtues and in the faith, I am also required to give them good example and protect them from "evil company". How does this quote hit you? This is a quote from Fr. Goffine's book, "The Church's Year" - a must have for every family!
"How do parents give scandal?
By giving their children bad example; by excessive anger, cursing and swearing; by avarice, injustice and cheating; by discord and quarrels; by gluttony in eating and drinking; by extravagance and vanity in dress; by sneering at religion, good morals, etc.; by not keeping their children from evil company, but sometimes even bringing them into it; by not punishing and endeavoring to eradicate their children's vices. How much parents sin through such scandals, cannot be expressed; at the Day of Judgment their children will be their accusers!"
It really doesn't matter how many times I have prayerfully read"The Imitation of Christ" cover to cover, it still has an incredible way of kicking me in the pants each time I pick it up. This work by Thomas a Kempis is so rich and deep a well of spiritual water that we ought to continually go back to it for nourishment. Just last night I picked it up for a little reading before falling asleep and was surprised to be as convicted as if I had just knelt down to St. Pio for Confession.
What was it that struck me? It might seem strange for a father of seven to say, but it was Chapter XX, "On the love of solitude and silence". On the surface one might chalk up this chapter to being only practically applied to the religious monk or nun, however, this rich food has enough for even a secular man like myself. I quote:
"Seek a suitable time for thy meditation, and think frequently of the mercies of God to thee. Leave curious questions. Study such matters as bring thee sorrow for sin rather than amusement. If thou withdraw thyself from trifling conversation and idle goings about, as well as from novelties and gossip, thou shalt find thy time sufficient and apt for good meditation."
I admit that I used to see this in a different light back in the days of studying theology at Franciscan University. Curious questions to me seemed to be the philosopher's favorites, "Will we have clothes in heaven?" or "Will my dog be with me in heaven?" Those were amusing times. Now, with seven children and a bit more responsibility I don't really have time to think on such "amusing" questions. How then does this strike me right between the eyes?
My "curious questions" and "trifling conversation and idle goings about" is mainly online news and facebook junkie-ism. Does it matter to my eternal salvation if Ron Paul wins the Pa Primary or if Brambles stock loses 14 cents in a day of trading? Does the meal that someone just ate or the game someone just played cause me to move closer to my eternal reward? The fact for me is that I spend TIME on all of these things. Time spent. Period. Time used up, never to return. I can't get back those 45 minutes I spent reading useless news about Syria and the retired space shuttle.
For the business operator, time management is one of the most important areas to manage properly. Lost time is lost work, lost revenue, lost productivity, etc. If one cannot get a firm grasp on managing time properly, business will inevitably suffer serious consequences. Deadlines will not be met, orders lost, opportunities missed. The owner that lacks this skill will also lack the ability to plan for the future and develop a vision for the company, because he will always spend his time putting out fires that could have been prevented.
In family life, it is much the same. If I don't manage my time at home, there will be lost opportunities, missed moments, and typically frustrated family members. If I spend my small amount of time on useless amusements and "trifling" and "idle" novelties I will inevitably run out of TIME! I will be like the useless servant that failed to invest his time and instead hid it in the ground...he lost the little he had! So it may be Facebook, online news, professional sports, movies, or games that use up our limited supply of time. Whatever it is, one can never say one does not have enough time, only that it may be poorly used.
As men we have immense responsibilities and time should be a very special one to us. Most of us that work, work outside the home and so we spend less time at home than at work. This should give us pause to ponder how we spend this time with our family. Do we spend it on ourselves? or do we spend it on God and our family? Thomas a Kempis says that if we would give up the useless pastimes we would indeed have the time we need (and most likely desire) for things of faith and family!