Tag: fathers

Men’s Authority

Men’s Authority posted in Eleison Comments on May 28, 2011

Two young men, uncertain of getting married, begged me the other day to write a manual on how men should be men. Theirs was a real cry of distress: “When should we be nice with women, and when should we be firm? We just don’t know any longer!” Yesteryear the answer to that question was common sense for many a man, but authority today has been so widely undermined by liberal propaganda that the problem of exercising it in marriage may be one reason why now numbers of young folk prefer simply to live together rather than get married. What follows is not a manual, but it may at least point our two musketeers in the right direction.

St. Paul says: “I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Eph. III, 14,15). In other words all fatherhood or authority amongst God’s creatures is modelled upon and derives from the fatherhood and authority of God himself. As Dostoevsky has one of his characters say, “If God does not exist, then I have no business being an army officer.” So it stands to reason that if men chase God out of their society, as he is being chased today out of the whole wide world, then all authority is radically undermined. In the individual, reason will be unable to govern the passions, in the family the father will be unable to control his household, and in the State democracy will come to seem the only legitimate form of government.

Now within the family, who, observing daily life, can deny that men are stronger than women in the use of reason, while women are stronger than men in intuition and emotion? Watch any sitcom if you doubt it. Now feelings have their rightful place in life and they are scorned, like one’s wife, at one’s peril, but they come and go, they are unstable and as such they are a guide, but not a reliable guide, to action. On the contrary if reason discerns what is objectively true and just, it is stabilized by the fact that objective truth and justice are above any individual or his feelings. Therefore reason may listen to feelings, but it must rule them. That is why men have, as men, a natural authority possessed only exceptionally by women, who have as a rule other qualities. That is why the man is naturally the head of the family and home, while the woman is naturally its heart.

But the liberalism which rules the modern world dissolves all sense of objective truth or justice. By so doing it deprives the reason of its object, and of its objective anchor in a reality above and independent of the reasoning subject. Reason being the prerogative of men, liberalism hits the men before it hits the women, whose feminine instincts are not dependent on reason. By the same token liberalism undercuts the authority of men which comes down from conforming to what is above them, ultimately divine Truth and Justice, and it makes all use of authority become arbitrary.

Therefore, young men, in all your dealings with men or women, seek to be true and just, and turn to God for the help necessary to discern truth and justice amidst so much untruth and injustice and arbitrary misuse of authority all around us today. Then act upon what you discern, and you will re-build your manly authority from above, in a world undercutting it from below. In brief, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his justice, and all these things shall be added unto you” (Mt. VI, 33).

Kyrie eleison.

Embattled Parents

Embattled Parents posted in Eleison Comments on May 8, 2010

Sister’s words from last week’s “Eleison Comments” remain in my mind: “The world has a tight grip on our girls.” Over a mere three years “the change of their mentality is noticeable. We struggle to maintain principles and morality.” Now the world is hardly going to ease off its pressure on the girls, on the contrary. Then either our Catholic Faith has ceased to be “our victory over the world” (I Jn.V,4), or Sister’s words may be a red light flashing to warn us all that our Faith needs to be activated, or Catholic Tradition may need to be sifted again?

For between home and school, if school is responsible for, say, two-sevenths of a child’s formation, home is responsible for at least five-sevenths. That is why, as was suggested here last week, it is a grave error for parents to think that if they have entrusted their child to a good school, their duty is done. The main responsibility for children’s formation has always belonged in the home. Sister would certainly not shuck off onto the home what is her own responsibility, but on the other hand her main hope, after the mercy of God, must be good homes.

Now nobody reasonable can today not have compassion on parents. For instance, father is liable to be run ragged by commuting, by unsatisfying work, by an anti-catholic work-place, while mother is liable to be exhausted by the series of children God can send if she and her husband are to obey the laws of Catholic marriage, by schooling them at home if outside schools are too corrupt, by work outside the home as well as inside if an incorrupt school outside is expensive, and by people’s scorn if she stays at home. In any such worst case scenario, God expects of none of us to do the impossible. But he does expect us to carry our Cross, and to do the possible.

Fathers, are you acting as the manly – not tyrannical! – head of the family? Do you put family before money, or money before family? Are you giving your girls the example of loving and supporting their mother? Do you listen to her? Are you encouraging her to dress or behave for your own pleasure in such a way as can only give to your daughters bad example? They will do much more what she does than what she says. Do you take time with your girls? Do you give them that wise attention and care which they so much need from their father? Mothers, only one question: do you give to your girls the example of respecting and obeying their father (even if he may not always deserve it), or do you use your tongue to make him small in front of them? Do both of you give to them an example of respect for the priest?

One last question for fathers and mothers: have you ever listened to those Catholic parents of children around the time of Vatican II who were asleep at the switch of their children’s formation, woke up too late and have now nothing but tears to shed for their children living, and being prepared to die, outside the Faith? Throw out that TV set! Fellow-priests and Sisters, let us not be afraid of making ourselves unpopular! And let us all beware of our Catholic Tradition becoming so cosy that for our own good the Lord God must let us do a re-run of Vatican II!

Kyrie eleison.

Moral Framework

Moral Framework posted in Eleison Comments on April 24, 2010

By their comprehensive brevity and divine promulgation, God’s ten Commandments (Deut.V, 6–21) are the outstanding presentation of that natural law known to every man through his natural conscience, and which he denies or defies at his peril. Last week’s “Eleison Comments” claimed that this law makes easy a diagnosis of the ills of modern art. Actually it diagnoses a multitude of modern problems, but let us this week look at the structure of the ten Commandments, as analyzed by St Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologiae, 1a 2ae, 100, art.6 and 7.

Law is the ordering of a community by its leader. Natural law is God’s ordering of the community of men with himself, of himself with men. Of this community God himself is the centre and main purpose, so the first “table of the Law” lays out men’s duties to God (C.1, no idols, C.2 no blasphemy, C.3 keep the Sabbath), while the second table (C. 4–10) details men’s duties to their fellow-men.

The first three Commandments represent the duties of loyalty, respect and service in that order. For just as for a soldier in an army, says St.Thomas, disloyalty to his general, or treachery, is worse than disrespect, which is worse than a failure to serve him, so a man towards God must firstly have no other gods (C.1), secondly in no way insult him or his name (C.2), and thirdly render him the service he requests (C.3).

As for the duties of a man towards his fellow-men (C.4–10), of primary importance are his relations with the father and mother who gave him life. Therefore the second table of the Law is headed by the duty to honour one’s parents (C.4). So basic is this honour to all human society that without it society falls to pieces, as we see happening all around us today with “Western civilization” (which would better be termed “Western disintegration”).

The remaining six Commandments St.Thomas continues to analyze as being in descending order of importance. Harm to neighbour in action (C.5–7) is worse than merely in word (C.8) which is worse than only in thought (C.9–10). As for harm in action, harm to a neighbour’s person (C.5, no killing) is graver than to his family (C.6, no adultery), which in turn is graver than to his mere property (C.7, no stealing). Harmful actions in word (C.8, no lying) are worse than harm in mere thought, where again envy of his marriage or family (C.9, no concupiscence of the flesh) is graver than envy of his mere property (C.10, no concupiscence of the eyes).

However, the breaking of all ten Commandments involves pride – the ancient Greeks called it “hubris” – whereby I rise up against God’s order, against God. For the Greeks, hubris was the key to man’s downfall. For us today, a universal pride is the key to the modern world’s appalling problems, insoluble without God, which means, ever since the Incarnation, without Our Lord Jesus Christ. Sacred Heart of Jesus, save us!

Kyrie eleison.

Christmas Cheer

Christmas Cheer posted in Eleison Comments on December 19, 2009

Here is some good news for Christmas, drawn from England’s “Catholic Herald” of Dec. 11: a report from the United States tells that the present economic recession is helping marriages. The recession began towards the end of 2007. In that year the divorce rate in the USA was 17.5 for every thousand married women. In the following year it was 16.9. Lessons at what Americans call “The School of Hard Knocks” are costly, but they sure teach!

“Marriage in America: The State of Our Unions 2009” is the title of the Report published jointly at the Institute for American Values, University of Virginia, by the Center for Marriage and Families and the National Marriage Project, whose director, Brian Wilcox, wrote the Report. He says that millions of Americans have adopted a “homegrown bailout strategy,” and “are relying on their own marriages and families to weather this storm.” As our new-fangled world collapses, so the old proverbs come back into their own: “Every cloud has a silver lining”; “Blood is thick and water is thin”; “There’s no place like home.”

Another piece of evidence quoted by Wilcox to prove that the economic crisis is helping marriages is the decision of many married couples to get rid of credit card debt. As reported by the Federal Reserve Board, Americans have reduced their collective revolving debt by 90 billion over the past year. Wilcox says the recession has revived the “home economy” as more and more Americans are growing their own food, making and mending their own clothes, and dining out less often: “Many couples appear to be developing a new appreciation for the economic and social support that marriage can provide in tough times.”

Husbands, behave like men, and turn to your wives for support. Wives, glory in your womanly gifts which men do not have in anything like the same measure, and lean on your husbands for strength. A man without a woman is normally a zero (yes, zero!). A woman without a man is normally even less, an incomplete zero, or an open U. But put the U as support beneath the zero, and you suddenly have 8! On the Miraculous Medal, is not the Cross of Our Lord shown resting on the M of Mary? To go through with his Passion Our Lord chose to renounce all his divine Strength. But could his humanity alone have performed our Redemption without the human support of his Mother? Never!

Not many economists have any common sense, but the few that are not living in la-la-land all see this recession getting much worse yet. Mothers, re-learn domestic skills. Fathers, re-learn vegetable gardening. All lovers of truth and reality, strengthen not only family ties, but also neighbourhood ties. It is going to be a question of survival, and our governments and media are not going to help, on the contrary, unless they seriously change direction. “Our help is in the name of the Lord,” figuring at this time of year as a powerless human baby. Yet this baby is the Almighty!

Kyrie eleison.

Children’s Treasure

Children’s Treasure posted in Eleison Comments on June 7, 2008

Do mothers know – do they still want to know – what treasures they, and they alone, can lay up in the hearts of their children? Here is a charming reminder from a young poet of the Irish countryside, born in the last years of the 19th century, who died on the eve of World War Two, Michael Walsh. The poem is entitled “Roses”:

Roses of evening – O loveliest of roses

Falling in music as the night came down –

To me the most familiar sound of childhood,

My mother praying on her beads of brown.

Evenings at home – O evenings long remembered!

Sunset on the meadows – moonrise on the snows,

Be it June or December – twilights that descended

To low soft music of a falling rose!

Of all the memories of a quiet valley

That haunt me, haunt me in this dusty town,

But one remains – the loveliest and the sweetest –

My mother praying on her beads of brown!

What a mother can give to her child in its earliest years cannot be replaced by the father, nor even at a later date by a beloved spouse. Both of them come upon the heart made, or unmade, by the mother. The key to its unmaking is her self-centredness, or selfishness, arising often today from the pursuit of her own fulfilment – how little does she know! The key to its making, and to that profound veneration in which mothers are naturally held, is her self-sacrifice, or selflessness. See in “Roses” how deep in the child struck his mother’s forgetting herself in God!

Kyrie eleison.

Flogged Fathers

Flogged Fathers posted in Eleison Comments on December 8, 2007

Last week Eleison Comments suggested that, as the prime remedy for the scarcity of vocations to the Catholic priesthood (or Brotherhood or Sisterhood), family fathers should set a leading example of true piety in the home. But that was not to say that today’s young fathers are alone to blame. Let me quote again from the non-Catholic friend in England, quoted in EC#12 on “Family Destruction,” commenting this time on today’s workplace:

“The way the world now works has made it harder for the young people in the work-force. Most of them cannot afford to buy their own homes, given the state of the property market. At work they have to cope with the pressure of instant communication, the ignoring of time-zones leading to unbelievably long working hours, the increase in graduate numbers and therefore the competition for worthwhile jobs, the influx of immigrant workers, the short-term contracts offered by employees, the regular “360-degree” appraisals once you have got a job, the number of courses you are required to take to keep yourself up to speed in that job, the Americanization of the work-place, the loss of “paternal” employees and collegiate perspectives because of the influence of the multi-national companies in the labour market, the cocaine culture prevalent both in the work-place and in after-work socializing, the threat of AIDS.

“Against this you can balance advantages like maternity and paternity leave, carefully structured dismissal procedures which offer more protection than our generation had, and better health and safety standards. But all of the young people I know, i.e. my own children and those of my contemporaries who are in good jobs, absolutely flog themselves to death, well-paid though they may be.”

My friend surely speaks from experience, of a steadily increasing daily pressure, surely global rather than just English. And what is that pressure? – Mammon.

Conclusion? A total – and global – way of life is stifling vocations just as it is disabling young men for fatherhood and young women for motherhood. Such a way of life is suicidal. And doomed. Young fathers, think. And act.

Kyrie eleison.