(Continued from last month)
Necessary as religion is in the home for the attainment of the primary aim of marriage and the family, which is the propagation of the human race, it is equally necessary for the attainment of the family's final aim, the education of children for Heaven.
Above all else it is the soul of the child for which parents will have to render a strict account on the day of judgment. It is the religious and moral training of their children that constitutes the primary duty to their offspring. When Catholic parents stand before their Divine Judge, they will not be asked whether they did their utmost to enable their children to prosper in the world, i.e., to wear the laurels of its honors or reap the fruits of its riches. The question they will have answer is, whether they did their duty in enabling their children not only to save their immortal souls, but also to reach that degree of holiness to which God destined them and to embrace that state of life in which God wished them to serve Him.
To enable parents to accomplish this sacred duty, parents must necessarily foster religion in their home. If religion is to be planted deep in the heart of the child, so deep that it will defy all later attempts of the world, the flesh and the devil, to root it out, it will not do to defer the child's religious education until it starts to school.
Religious education must begin in the infancy of the child so that a truly religious mind will be developed and become a veritable second nature. It follows necessarily, then, that religion must exert the dominant influence in the place where the child's first years are spent, namely, in the home. Only if religion rules the home, will the child get the impression right at the start that religion is the most important thing in life.
If there is little or no religion in the home, the child will naturally be led to suppose that wealth and position, secular knowledge and training, or even worldly comforts and pleasures are the things most worth while. Religion, instead of being a vital force in life will be considered merely a polite concession that man feels he must occasionally make to God, his Creator. It will, therefore be much like a badge or his best clothes, something to be displayed only in church and on special occasions.
Pope Pius XI notably emphasized the lack of education in the home in his encyclical on "Christian Education of Youth." Please note that what was said by this Pontiff at the end of 1930 is ever more important today.
"We wish to call your attention in a special manner to the present day lamentable decline in family education. The offices and professions of a transitory and 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."
Although it is a situation that is almost nonexistent because of present deplorable conditions, the relationship between the home and school needs to be mentioned briefly. As the primary educators of their children, parents are responsible for their education (religious, above all else). They must see to it that it meets the necessary requirements of the Church in the given circumstances of the family. They cannot excuse themselves in matters of basic religious education by placing the burden totally on their teachers, whether these teachers are part of a formal classroom setting or are religious instructors only. Harmony between the two is vital to the spiritual life of their children. Otherwise, the children will be caught between the maxims of Christ and the world. This confusion will cause what is most likely irreparable spiritual harm. It will not matter from where the harm comes, the damage is far too easily accomplished.
Today's pubic school system is the prime example of division that has purposely been created for the express goal of destroying traditional family values and at the same time indoctrinating these impressionable students with New World Order propaganda.
Once again quoting Pope Pius XI, he comments on the necessity of this much-needed harmony:
"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 borne 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."
It is also necessary to point out the effect that has occurred as a result of the Church's prohibition against sending children to non-Catholic schools being ignored. I'm not referring to the refusal of Catholic parents to send their children to the Modernist schools of the past four decades, but the exodus and the attitude that developed prior to this time. Some may think that it is irrelevant to go back so many years, but the indifference that occurred then by certain Catholic parents, grew into greater problems of indifference in the Catholic home and in society.
An example of this type would be the Catholic child who in the 1940's attended a public school due solely to the apathy of the parents. As a result, this child was not properly instructed in the Catholic Faith, and knew nothing of his heritage. This neglect was passed on to his children and grandchildren. The sad facts of such a situation are that, what was once a fervent Catholic family several generations ago, has now become pagan (not just Protestant) in all aspects. For not only does the present generation refuse to practice its faith, but they no longer concern themselves with baptizing their children. Their god has become the "mob" or what is politically correct.
How many Catholics today are willing to admit the importance of practicing their faith as a means of avoiding a divorce? If one were to go back to the early part of the 20th century (as an example), he would find that although divorce was present, it was not prevalent. The cause would be centered on the fact that Catholic families practiced their faith, not only individually, but also as families. Sadly, today, divorces are about as common among Catholics as they are non-Catholics. One will also find that among these broken homes, the practice of the Catholic religion was either irregular or non-existent. How can anyone expect blessings from God, if God is not recognized?
To offset the irreligious practices that have become so common in this era of apostasy, the Catholic family ought to remind itself of three things that are vital to its salvation.
The first is that of daily prayer. Many today will consider it old-fashioned and childish to insist on morning and evening prayers, grace before and after meals, the daily rosary, as well as other seasonal devotions. It is these things, though, which establish religion firmly in the home, bring down God's blessings, and give the home its true consecration. Wherever all the family members regularly say their daily prayers, there you will find a home where religion flourishes and peace and contentment reign.
The length of one's prayer depends upon one's circumstance. There is no standard measurement that will fit all. The thing that must be remembered, though, is the absolute necessity of prayer and its regularity.
The need to pray on your knees is of greater importance than what most would care to admit. The act of kneeling is a prayer in itself. It is an act of adoration. It is the most becoming posture in which to address our Creator. To refuse to do so displays an act of rebellion rooted in the vice of pride. The only proper attitude in praying to God is one of supernatural humility.
Parents should consider their example of kneeling, if they are able, to be of great importance to their family. The children will be edified, and thus learn from their parents that they, too, must prostrate themselves daily on their knees in order to pay homage to God. Nothing will impress more deeply on the child that prayer is not merely a child's duty but a duty for life. They will see that religion is something not only for the church but for the home as well. Children will learn that there is nothing about prayer or kneeling for anyone to be ashamed of. But rather, that it would be a cause of shame for any Catholic, be he young or old, to be obliged to admit that he did not daily lift his hands and his heart to God in prayer.
The effect of fervent individual prayer is that of family prayer. Far too many families today excuse themselves from this most salutary practice. They seem to think that their busy schedules excuse them. Perhaps a quick reminder about priorities and parental responsibilities will bring to the forefront what they may have unconsciously relegated as unnecessary or trivial. What parent would consent to have its members eat alone each evening? Are there not any number of activities that are specifically designed for the entire family? Don't families usually take their vacations as a family? What decent mother or father would go off and leave their family behind for a week or two? The answers to these questions ought to be obvious. Why is it then that so many parents find it terribly difficult to have the family come together on a daily basis and pray for a short while? One needs only to consider apathy or indifference to find the answer.
The second point is that of the atmosphere in the home. Pope Pius XI briefly considers this aspect which today is given little reflection:
"In order to obtain perfect education, it is of the utmost importance to see that all those conditions which surround the child during the period of his formation, in other words, the combination of circumstances which we call environment, correspond exactly to the end proposed. The first natural and necessary element in this environment, as regards education, is the family, and this precisely because so ordained by the Creator Himself."
It must first be remembered that the atmosphere or environment in which one lives exerts a strong influence upon a man's habits and the formation of his character. No one that has the slightest knowledge of human nature will presume to deny this. It is a principle of sound philosophy that there is no conception (idea) in the mind that is not preceded by a perception of one of the five senses. Since it is the mind and will that govern our rational actions, it follows that our sense perceptions, notably those of seeing and hearing, must have a powerful influence upon our actions. In an absolute sense a person may shake off these influences, but the important thing to be noted is that the influence is there and is felt even though it be withstood. Since we must be guided by what ordinarily happens and not by what is theoretically possible, parents and other responsible persons should see to it that the moral atmosphere in the home is such as will exert a wholesome influence on all in the household.
The first consideration in meeting the requirements of the truly Catholic home is that it should not be worldly, for this is opposed to religion. Our Lord has told us that you cannot serve two masters. This must necessarily be externalized when forming the atmosphere in the home.
Luxury and extravagance are out of place in a Catholic environment. This does not mean that a wealthy Catholic may not have a home that is in keeping with his station in life, but there should be no boldly conspicuous display of wealth, indicating an inordinate love of worldly magnificence and a disposition to glory in it. Please note that what has been said of the wealthy also applies to what would be considered the middle-class in this country.
The application of the principles used for a home and its furnishings should pertain to that of dress. As Catholics, we are bound by the law of moderation and of charity, meaning that extravagance must be avoided, as well as a concern for those that are in need and might be easily helped.
A word needs to be said about pictures, statues, and other such items. It has become a common practice among far too many Catholics to decorate their homes with items that simply reflect paganism. Without wanting to appear puritanistic, the use of mythological images and partial or full scenes of nudity are out of place. Keep in mind, it's not only adults who will see these things, but the delicate and innocent eyes of the child, also.
The economic balance in the family is an interesting area of discussion. It's actually rather frustrating because far too many young couples think they need to "keep up with the Jones'" and put themselves into debt for the rest of their working years and beyond. The horrible result that has been witnessed for many years is that it takes the mother out of the home, thus destroying the necessary care and affection for the children that only a mother can give. To abbreviate this point, one which is an article in itself, couples from the beginning of their marriage ought to discipline themselves to live within their means so they don't burden themselves and the family with a life long economic yoke. Giving this type of an example to children is of far greater benefit than displaying worldliness beyond their means.
Sacred images ought to be found throughout the home. The centerpiece, of course, should be the crucifix. If it is within the means of the family, a crucifix ought to be placed in every major room in the home. Catholics should not be afraid to display any sacred image, incorrectly thinking that it won't be in style, or it won't fit the decor. These types of Catholics are weak, and should realize that sacred images need to take the first place, instead of the last, when it comes to adorning the home. Far too many Catholic homes hardly look any different from non-Catholic homes seemingly due to this erroneous reasoning.
The third and final area of concern is that of good reading. The reading of good literature has the same effect on one's character as the association with good and wise companions. A writer's best thoughts, most noble emotions, and finest imagery enter into a good book or good piece of literature. The reader's character cannot but benefit, even though unconsciously, by coming into such intimate contact with them. The good thoughts kept in the storehouse of the mind become the mainspring of good deeds. The noble feelings strike a sympathetic chord in the reader's heart and adapt it to lofty aspirations. The vivid pictures leave an indelible impression in the imagination and thus help to preserve both the ideas and the sentiments.
In an age where the electronic media has taken over in the home, parents would be well reminded that good reading is irreplaceable. It not only fulfills the thoughts in the paragraph above but also provides sufficient practice in learning how to read. Their investment in good reading material will pay greater dividends than they may imagine.
Books concerning the Faith are understandably the most important books to possess. The inspiration and idealism that occur at a young age will stay for years to come. One can only wonder how many vocations blossomed as a result of a child being encouraged to read by a parent or a good teaching Sister of the past. For those who enjoy reading, it truly is a labor of love!
There are numberless books on various hobbies that will provide practical knowledge to a growing child. This provides not only good, clean reading but will occupy their time in a decent manner well beyond having read the book itself. Once again, the investment made by the parents will reap rewards beyond what they might presently consider.
The poison that is contained in impure literature needs to be mentioned only briefly, but ever so firmly. No parent in his right mind would allow certain medications or poisonous chemicals to be within the reach of his children due to the obvious danger. How is it then that little thought is given to this spiritual poison that has consequences far beyond any physical harm which may occur to a child. It is truly astonishing that so many parents not only allow but also encourage such behavior.
I am reminded of an incident that actually took place about twenty-five years ago. I overheard a public school teacher tell a co-worker one day that she had given her thirteen or fourteen year old son a certain pornographic magazine for the express purpose of teaching him the "facts of life!" Is it any wonder we have a society of so many degenerates?
This warning needs to include the so-called magazines for "women" which are openly displayed in the checkout aisles of your local grocery stores. To think that it is harmless for young girls to read such things is yet another fatal mistake. Some parents are so stupid as to think that their teenage daughter is "mature" enough to read such trash.
For anyone that is such a dullard, once this impurity has been intravenously fed into the soul, it sets the stage for yet greater sins in the future. Spiritually speaking, it is only through prayer, sacramental grace, and much self-discipline that these things will be overcome.
The responsibilities and duties of parents are unquestionably great ones. Although it is admittingly a difficult task given the circumstances that exist today, it is not impossible. Perhaps the first obligation of perspective parents should be to educate themselves in what it means to be a Catholic. Then they may proceed to the concerns of a spouse and parent. If parents only realized that "they cannot give what they do not have" they would more readily prepare themselves for their responsibilities.
The family is of the utmost importance to society, for "as the family goes, so goes society." Perhaps this is best illustrated in the following example:
Before his conversion, a great infidel made the following admission to the eminent apostle of the Sacred Heart, Fr. Mateo Crawley-Boevey, SS.CC.: "We have only one object in view-to dechristianize the family. We are willing to let Catholics have their churches and chapels and cathedrals. We are satisfied to have the family. If we gain the family, our victory over the Church is assured."
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