children

Tomato Stakes – I

Tomato Stakes – I posted in Eleison Comments on September 10, 2011

A little while back a family wife and mother told me she was having a hard time communicating with her husband. They could hardly talk to one another about what was going wrong without ending up mad at each other. Rightly or wrongly, I sensed that her problem was this universal, deliberate and diabolical denial of the marvellously complementary role designed by God for man and woman in marriage. Here is what I wrote for her. She said it helped her. May it help others. By the way, ladies, I do NOT think all the problem is on your side!

I am sorry to hear of a rough passage in your marriage. Rule number One: never argue with your husband in front of, or within earshot of, the children. They come first. You cannot help the family by pulling down your husband, or arguing with him in front of them. On the contrary.

Rule number Two: RESPECT your husband, even if he may not always deserve it. Women run on love, men on ego, a huge difference. That is why St Paul – WORD OF GOD – says, “Wives, obey your husbands, husbands, cherish your wives.” Huge difference! In any marriage where the husband shows love for his wife and where the wife respects her husband, normally the essence of a contented marriage is there. And if he does not show love for you, at least make yourself lovable, which you will never do by fighting with him.

Let it cost you what it may, respect your husband. He needs your respect more than he needs your love. You need his love more than you need his respect. Obey him. Never show that you are telling him what to do. Get him to decide to do what you want him to do. And for the wife to work outside the home is not a good thing, especially if she earns more than he does. If you have to earn, and do earn more, NEVER let it show. Disguise the fact. A man needs to see himself as the breadwinner, as the head of the house. You are the heart, just as necessary as the head for the family, maybe more so, but you are not the head. And if you are sometimes forced to act as the head, do not let it show, BUT DISGUISE IT.

I would be surprised if you could not make the marriage work. It usually depends on the woman to adapt herself to the man, and not the other way round. Russian proverb –“As the tomato plant is to the stake (around which it climbs),so the woman is to the man.” If he is not a stake, do all you can to make him into one. And if you cannot, then once more disguise the fact. God makes women more adaptable than men, so that they will adapt to their men.

You once said that the family needed money to educate the children. Has it occurred to you that the best and most important education of your girls is in their mother’s kitchen? Assuming that the mother is at home. You have much more to give your girls by your example than any school outside the home can give them. And give them the precious example of a wife and mother that obeys and respects her husband despite everything. Children are very observant. Your example is of crucial importance for the happiness of their future marriages and homes.

Argue with your husband if you like, but quietly, respectfully, and away from the children. And do not say, “I too have been out working all day long, I too need understanding at home.” For mothers to work outside the home is not normal, and the men sense it, even if it is their own fault. Men are what they are. This is the man that God appointed for you to marry. Give your children the example of respecting him. That is a precious gift, especially to your girls. All families today need a lot of prayer. Mother of God, help!

Kyrie eleison.

Few Elect?

Few Elect? posted in Eleison Comments on January 22, 2011

Why is it so seemingly difficult to save one’s soul? Why – as we are told – are relatively few souls saved in comparison with the number of souls damned? Since God wishes for all souls to be saved (I Tim.II, 4), why did he not make it somewhat easier, as he surely could have done?

The swift and simple answer is that it is not that difficult to save one’s soul. Part of the agony of souls in Hell is their clear knowledge of how easily they could have avoided damnation. Damned non-Catholics might say, “I knew there was something to Catholicism, but I chose never to go into the question because I could see ahead that I would have to change my way of life.” (Winston Churchill once said that every man runs into the truth at some time in his life, but most men turn the other way.) Damned Catholics might say, “God gave me the Faith, and I knew that all I needed was to make a good confession, but I reckoned it was more convenient to put it off, and so I died in my sins . . .” Every soul in Hell knows that it is there by its own fault, by its own choice. God is not to be blamed. In fact looking back on their lives on earth, they see clearly how much he did to try to stop them from throwing themselves into Hell, but they freely chose their own fate, and God respected that choice . . . However, let us delve a little deeper.

Being infinitely good, infinitely generous and infinitely happy, God chose – he was in no way obliged – to create beings that would be capable of sharing in his happiness. Since he is pure spirit (Jn. IV, 24), such beings would have to be spiritual and not just material, such as animal, vegetable or mineral. Hence the creation of angels with no matter in them at all, and men, with a spiritual soul in a material body. But that very spirit by which angels and men are capable of sharing in divine happiness necessarily includes reason and free-will, indeed it is by the free-will freely choosing God that it deserves to share in his happiness. But how could that choice of God be truly free if there was no alternative to choose that would turn away from God? What merit does a boy have in choosing to buy a volume of Shakespeare if there is only Shakespeare for sale in the bookstore? And if the bad alternative exists, and if the free-will is real and not just a pretence, how are there not going to be angels or men who will choose what is not good?

The question may still be asked, how can God have foreseen to allow the majority of souls (Mt.VII, 13–14; XX, 16) to incur the terrible punishment of refusing his love? Answer, the more terrible Hell is, the more certain it is that to every man alive God offers grace and light and strength enough to avoid it, but, as St Thomas Aquinas explains, the majority of men prefer the present and known joys of the senses to the future and unknown joys of Paradise. Then why did God attach such strong pleasures to the senses? Partly no doubt to ensure that parents would have children to populate his Heaven, but also surely to make all the more meritorious any human being’s putting the pursuit of pleasure in this life beneath the true delights of the next life, which are ours for the wanting! We need only want them violently enough (Mt.XI, 12)!

God is no mediocre God, and to souls loving him he wishes to offer no mediocre Paradise.

Kyrie eleison.

Embattled Boys

Embattled Boys posted in Eleison Comments on May 29, 2010

EC 146 told of the difficulty that teaching Sisters have with today’s girls. EC 147 traced the problem back to the home.Now, some of you ask, what about the boys? Catholics know that boys and girls, as to the saving of their souls for the next life, are equal, so both must be prepared alike, first and foremost, to get to Heaven. But about there the likeness ends. God has appointed man and woman for quite different roles in this life, which is why the Church has always condemned co-education. Then what do boys specifically need?

As woman has gifts of heart to look after home and children, so man has gifts of reason to lead them and provide for them by, ever since original sin, “the sweat of his brow” (Gen. III, 19). Therefore while a girl’s formation must centre around what will serve husband and children inside the home, a boy’s formation should train him for (1) work and (2) responsibility outside the home, which will usually mean, in the big bad world. There he is going to need (3) judgment, (4) self-discipline and (5) manliness. We already have quite a programme!

In this programme, the example given to a boy by his father is all-important! Parents of today, you must have been yourselves formed 20 to 30 years ago, well after the revolutionary 1960’s. Do all of you realize what that means? Do have the humility to recognize that your own formation, in school and/or home, most likely ill prepared you to raise children so to live as to get to Heaven. Fathers, set about correcting your own indolence, irresponsibility, silliness, self-indulgence and unmanliness, and you will be doing the very best you can for your boys!

WORK outside in nature is the best. Let a boy swing an axe, cut down a tree, plant a garden, ride a horse, build a shed. Sport at best is manly recreation, but it is not meant to be any more than recreation. A genuine need of the family best teaches RESPONSIBILITY, also taught by a boy’s suffering from the consequences of his own mistakes, instead of being protected from them. JUDGMENT he will learn by being encouraged to use his mind, by discussions at the family table, by the company and instruction of his father whom he naturally hero-worships and follows, but who must take time to listen to his boy and counsel him, especially in adolescence. DISCIPLINE he will learn by getting up early in the morning, by a daily routine to which he sticks, by getting early to bed, and by not dating until, more or less, he is looking to marry. The less he gives to girls he will not marry, the more he will have to give to the girl he will marry. MANLINESS will be the reward for following out such a programme.

Finally, parents, notice how electronics as a rule make a boy 1 idle, 2 irresponsible, 3 silly, 4 soft and 5 frustrated.

Cast out of the home electronics’ spell,

If your boys are not to drop into Hell!

Kyrie eleison.

Restoring Fatherhood

Restoring Fatherhood posted in Eleison Comments on May 22, 2010

It is easy to blame parents today for not knowing how to raise their children. It will be more useful to help all of them wishing to be helped to see where the problem of their estranged children is coming from. The problem is, in a way, as majestic as God, because it comes from the modern world’s wholesale refusal and denial of God.

The human family is a small society, consisting basically of father, mother and children. Now common sense tells us that every human society needs a head to be able to function. If no head directs or commands, the society loses its direction and falls apart. A football team needs a captain, a corporation needs a chief executive officer, a country needs a king or president, a town needs a mayor, a fire brigade needs a chief, an army needs a general, a university needs a rector, a court needs a judge, and so on, and so on.

Above all, a family needs a father, because the human family is not only a human society, it is the most basic and natural of human societies, in fact it is the basic model for all other societies. This is because in no other society can the bonds which tie the members together be so deep or natural as the bonds which tie husband to wife and parents to children. Also in no other society is it so clear how the head must both command and care for the members. If a father commands without caring, the family suffers from his harshness. If he cares without commanding – rather more often the case today – it suffers from his softness. Thus family fatherhood is the model for all human authority. That is why (cf. EC 145) the Fourth Commandment to honour father and mother stands at the head of the seven Commandments governing relations in human society.

Now family fatherhood, like all fatherhood or authority, derives from God the Father. St Paul says, “I bow my knees to the Father of Our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom all fatherhood is named” (Eph. III, 14,15). In other words, says the Word of God, from the fatherhood of God the Father all fatherhood in the human family, all headship in any human society, derives its nature, because the “name,” or word, signifies the nature or thing. Then it stands to reason that in any world which kicks out God the Father, as our world is now doing, the name and nature of fatherhood will be drained out of our minds, and all fatherhood and all authority will be emptied out of our lives.

Family fathers, lead your families to God! Put yourselves under him, and your wives and children will put themselves that much more easily under you. “The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God,” says St Paul (I Cor. XI, 3). Give to wife and children the example of a manly piety, as natural as it is “supernatural,” and whatever our mad world may get up to for its part, you at least will be doing the best you can for the family that God has entrusted to you.

Specifics for boys will follow in another “Eleison Comments,” if God wills.

Kyrie eleison.