For Part One visit this post.
For conclusion visit this post.
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.
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. 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. 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: “…one beheld simplicity and purity of conduct, perfect agreement and unbroken harmony, mutual respect and love, not of the false and fleeting kind, but that which found both its life and its charm in devotedness of service.
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.
“Love is the most wonderful educator in the world; it opens up worlds and possibilities undreamed of to those to whom it comes, the gift of God. I am speaking of love which is worthy of the name, not of its many counterfeits. The genuine article only, based upon respect and esteem, can stand the test of time, the wear and tear of life; the love which is the wine of life, more stimulating and more heart-inspiring when the days are dark than at any other time,—the love which rises to the occasion, and which many waters cannot quench.” – Annie S. Swan, Courtship and Marriage And the Gentle Art of Home-Making, 1893
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