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The Catholic Home, Part 2


Fr. Joseph Noonan, OFM

Part 2

I would like to begin the second part of this topic by re-emphasizing the importance of establishing a proper environment in the Catholic home.
The Catholic home must necessarily be different from non-Catholics. One may begin with the externals which are an outward sign of one’s belief in the Catholic Faith. A home ought to have numerous religious articles placed reasonably throughout the home. If possible, a crucifix, not simply a cross, ought to hang in each major room. It is not recommended that homes resemble religious goods stores with an overabundance of religious items lining the walls. The externals are an outward symbol of the inward faith. Outward exaggerations may indicate an inward spiritual imbalance. If there is little in a Catholic home that distinguishes itself from a non-Catholic home, the faith of the parents would seem to be weak at best.

In today’s world those things which are allowed or not allowed by parents go a long in determining the home environment. It has been my experience over a number of years that home settings are quite different according to the priorities of the parents. It simply all centers around the faith of the parents. No one is expecting the home to resemble a convent or monastery on one hand, but neither should it be a disorganized, chaotic place where children lie around and listen to rock music and play video games, wasting an untold number of hours during the course of the day or night.
The Catholic ideal is for the home to be a place of great supernatural faith, peace and love. All that takes place in it is either a reflection of these virtues or the opposing vices. Parents must be honest with themselves to be able to make an objective judgment as to the status of their own family. Corrections ought to be made accordingly by the father, first, then the mother.

The most important duty of the parents is to teach the Catholic Faith. How many spend the time teaching their children the most important things this side of heaven? How many encourage them to read books on the saints, the Sacraments or most importantly, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass? How many of them speak of and encourage religious vocations? I am convinced we have a problem with a shortage of vocations at least in great part because parents say little or nothing to their children. A vocation does not simply come out of thin air. It must be fostered over time and this can only be accomplished through the spoken and written word. How many of our parents pray for religious vocations in their family? As an extension of this thought do parents pray for priestly vocations among their sons, or a vocation to the sisterhood among their daughters? If not, why not?

Conversations of this type ought to begin when children are young and still willing to listen to their mother or father. The purpose of these conversations is to plant seeds, not convince or coerce their children. We live in an age where parents are too afraid to gently present the ideas. This can easily be accomplished when parents are fulfilling their teaching responsibilities.

There are undoubtedly some parents who believe they are not qualified to teach the Faith to their children. Sadly, they would be correct. As an adult, are you not able to learn, or is it a case of not being interested enough to learn? It has been said by many that the best way to learn is to teach. So teach, and do it with great joy!
Put aside those which you may selfishly want to do and spend time with your children. Parents with adult children know how quickly the time passes. Those formative years are those most important years of their and your lives. It is a mistake to pass off religious education to a lay teacher, sister or priest. Parents ARE the first educators. They will answer to God for their sins of commission and omission in this all-important area of religious education.
Underlining an earlier thought, the need for the LOVE of the Faith cannot be stressed too much. Too many Catholics believe that if you simply know the Faith, this is enough. The conclusion does not follow because it is built upon a false premise. A simple example will provide the necessary proof for this point. Many Catholics have in the past been well educated in the Faith, but because they did not have love of the Faith they fell away. If every Catholic loved the Faith in the manner in which they should, there would no Catholics to leave the Church. There would then exist a world which is mostly or entirely Catholic. Yes, dear parents, teach your children to love that which should be most dear to us all, i.e., the Holy Roman Catholic Faith.
How many parents understand the dangers of worldliness in the home? How many understand what is meant by worldliness? The first concern of this issue is the worldliness of the parents. It is quite difficult to teach children detachment from this world when the parents may be materialist themselves.
Understood correctly, no one is expecting family members to practice detachment from this world in the same manner as religious, although it can be accomplished by the truly spiritual parents. The ideal is to educate children in such a way that they understand the things of this world, i.e., material goods, position, money, etc., are only a means to an end, not an end in themselves. Practically, parents should guide children in such a way so they are responsible adults, good citizens and holy Catholics. They should not allow the things of this world to be the reason for which they live, but merely tools by which to live reasonably and decently, always keeping in mind the goal of eternal salvation.

The responsibilities and duties of parents are grave. God provides them with the necessary grace to carry them out each day. The parents, especially the father, must understand the responsibility they have toward their children. The eternity of the children rests largely upon the parents. Parents must, therefore, keep this in mind and especially early in the marriage they should educate themselves as to how to be responsible, holy parents.
Pray to Our Lord, the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph for the grace and intercession to be good Catholics each day.