Marriage and the Family

Fr. Joseph Noonan O.F.M.

(continued from last month)

Seemingly rarer than knowing the primary purpose of marriage is that of establishing the highest of ideals as parents. The initial (and perhaps the highest) hurdle is that of the parents possessing these ideals themselves. This involves a simple principle of philosophy. One cannot give what one does not have. In simple terms this means how can parents who haven't the foggiest notion of what a high ideal is, be expected to pass it on?

The free thinkers and antichrists of today like to mock the Christian eras of the past but the truth is that the high ideals of the Church which were passed on to the faithful were the very backbone of Christian society. These ideals were and still are based on natural law and the teachings of the Church. For those that are able to understand that common decency and good manners have become relics of the past, it is an indication of just how far we as a society have sunk into a spiritual mire.

Many like to excuse themselves for not having been taught such things by their parents. This is understandable, but only to a point. It may make matters more difficult, but certainly not impossible, for the Church provides the faithful with more than sufficient means to carry out their tasks. The first and foremost means by which She provides for Her children is through the Mass and the reception of the Sacraments of Penance and Holy Eucharist. In here lies the answer to all questions. If parents made use of these opportunities, especially attending Holy Mass, their role as parents would more than likely take on a whole new meaning. It would very simply be supernaturalized instead of what is seen the vast majority of the time a merely natural outlook as parents.

In how many situations have we seen parents who desire nothing more for their children than to "get ahead" in this world. This ends up meaning a well paying position, a house the size of a small mansion, two late model cars, etc. If something of this nature has been accomplished, the worldly parents will have considered themselves to have done a good job in raising their children. What utter blindness! Would such parents consider their role as spiritual guardians looking out for the spiritual welfare of their loved ones, instead of being nothing more than emotional, naturalistic providers of food, clothing, and shelter.

An important secondary means for parents are the writings of the Church and Its members which provide them with understandable, useful insights into daily life that will help them answer countless questions. Even in today's circumstances, there are enough pamphlets and books available. You could say that the hurdle here is to acquire the desire (and therefore the discipline) to read. So many excuse themselves far too easily. The result is an ignorant parent that is unable to properly teach his child. The electronic media may have its usefulness, but don't allow it to become a major distraction in your life.

Pope Pius XI, in speaking on yet another aspect of family life, reminds us about the need for parents to be responsible for the education of their children.

"We wish to call Your attention in a special manner to the present lamentable decline in family education. The offices and professions of a transitory earthly life which are certainly of far less importance, are prepared for by long and careful study; whereas for the fundamental duty and obligation of educating their children, many parents have little or no preparation, immersed as they are in temporal cares."

"The declining influence of domestic environment is further weakened by another tendency prevalent almost everywhere today, which, under one pretext or another for economic reasons or for reasons of industry, trade, or politics, causes children to be more and more frequently sent away from home even in their tenderest years." (Pope Pius XI in "Christian Education of Youth.")

If we keep in Mind that these words were written some seventy years ago, it will give us an idea of how long the Church and society have been dealing with such problems.

As one looks at the situation today, those socalled educational "Institutions" have served no other true purpose than to put the child out of the home and into circumstances that not only divide the family, but undermine parental authority.

The endless day care and Kindergarten programs separate the mother and child at such a young age that her (the mother's) influence (love, affection, and nurturing) is nearly negated. On the other hand, the influence of the babysitters and/or teachers is greatly expanded to such a degree that these strangers are the ones that are raising the young, impressionable child. It's like handing your child over to strangers in order to raise them! In any other age who would not have considered this insanity on one hand and culpable parental neglect on the other?

The difference in what is taught between the home and school presents its own set of problems. If parents are fortunate enough to have a situation where there is harmony between home and school, they should consider themselves truly blessed. The assumption here is that the Catholic Faith is being taught and practiced as It ought to be. This particular circumstance, though, is almost nonexistent today due to the efforts of the modernists and socialists.

Once again, Pope Pius XI provides us with the necessary understanding of how the school ought to conform to the dictates of the home: "Since, however, the younger generations must be trained in the arts and sciences for the advantage and prosperity of civil society, and since the family of itself is unequal to this task, it was necessary to create that social institution, the school. But let it be born in mind that this institution owes its existence to the initiative of the family and of the Church, long before it was undertaken by the State. Hence, considered in its historical origin, the school is by its very nature and institution subsidiary and complementary to the family and the Church. It follows logically and necessarily that it must not be in opposition to, but in positive accord with those other two elements, and form with them a perfect moral union, constituting one sanctuary of education, as it were, with the family and the Church. Otherwise it is doomed to fail of its purpose and to become instead an agent of destruction."

The seventy years of hindsight since those words were written have shown us that they were truly prophetic. For the school, in particular the public or state school today is nothing more that an institution of socialist indoctrination working to undermine parental rights and Christian morals.

We must, if we are to be entirely honest about the situation, realize that any number of Catholic children have been weak in their faith or have lost it altogether due to the laxity of their parents. The parents in such a situation can in no way place the blame on the child's teachers or the Church. The parents must above all else know that it is they who are the first educators of their children.

The home ought to be the place where children not only learn the many practical necessities of life, but more importantly where the foundation of the Faith is instilled and nurtured. Parents shouldn't be overcome by the fact that their first duty is to raise their loved ones with the hope that one day they will become saints. This is the highest of all ideals for anyone that wishes to call himself a Christian. Be of good courage, and follow your Christian convictions.

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