We often hear about Christianity being a religion of peace, and for the most part it is. So, it is worth reflecting on why Christians, Catholics in particular, have drawn so much ire over the course of history often resulting in being marginalized in societies and at times physically persecuted. Why is it that the fact that someone claims to be a Christian has resulted in them being harmed physically? We can trace that back to St. John the Baptist, and yes our Lord Jesus Christ Himself. Yes, the reason is Catholics have a moral standard, and we are supposed to abide by it to the best of our abilities. What’s at stake is nothing less than the eternal future of our immortal souls. This is why so many martyrs throughout history went to their deaths instead of compromising their morals or standards.So once again, we are starting to see this rear its ugly head more and more in our own day and age. As was pointed out by a very good episode of Church Militant’s Vortex, the reason the immoral acts that are being legalized today were recently illegal is because of the Catholic moral law. This is the unchanging standard that all of humanity is to live by because it is the standard of behavior instructed by God through His Church. This is not to say that everyone has to become Catholic. The theological beliefs, the “Faith” part of “Faith and morals,” are a gift from God that may not necessarily clearly be granted to all. So someone might have different beliefs about God and creation and the Savior, etc but moral behavior still should be consistent among all of humanity.
So what’s this got to do with family? Silly question right? I’m sure just these few sentences have all of our emotions in an uproar when we start to see the kinds of evil that are being thrust upon the culture (principally the children) with an attempt to normalize them. It is once again an effort by human beings to blur the lines away from any concrete standard so that they can participate in the pleasurable acts that should be forbidden. The problem with that is that those acts often will not only damn that person’s soul but also the one with whom he or she participates. Either that or the person takes advantage of an innocent person for their own selfish pleasure. It’s evil either way it is carried out.
As leaders of families we are charged with keeping the lines clear and un-blurred. We must clearly instruct in word and in deed the moral teaching of the Church. The principal challenge in today’s world is to teach this in deed. The problem for most of us comes when our extended families fail to see things as clearly as we do or to see the urgency of the situation or to agree with the methods we embrace in this responsibility to educate. A certain Gospel passage comes to mind with words from our Lord Himself:
Here we hear Christ Himself draw the line on where peace in this life ends and where conflict begins. When we as parents have determined a way in which we will guard the morality of our families, no one is to be allowed to get in the way of that, all the way down to our blood relatives. This is a challenge to us as Catholics and worth serious reflection when we authentically discern the price we seek to pay for “peace.”
Of course in terms of Catholicism what we’re speaking of here is the principle of guarding ourselves and our family members against the near occasions of sin, those people, places, and things that will likely cause a temptation for us to sin. The most common example of that today, as Our Lady of Fatima warned of most souls going to hell for sins of the flesh, is the rampant immodesty of females in their mode of dress and behavior. A recommended way to guard against that is by a moderate mode of dress for the females in our families. The extremes are on either side of the Catholic mode of moderation that respects and reveres feminine beauty: you have the muslims who put their women and girls in burkas, and you have pagans that permit women and girls to run around half-naked in public at times in the equivalent of underwear revealing very private parts of their anatomy. This is sinful against the teaching of the Church as the Catechism demands that we practice modesty: “Modesty is decency. It inspires one's choice of clothing. It keeps silence or reserve where there is evident risk of unhealthy curiosity. It is discreet.” (¶2522) “It means refusing to unveil what should remain hidden. It is ordered to chastity to whose sensitivity it bears witness. It guides how one looks at others and behaves toward them in conformity with the dignity of persons and their solidarity.” (¶2521) The Catechism also requires that we educate our children in this practice: “So called moral permissiveness rests on an erroneous conception of human freedom; the necessary precondition for the development of true freedom is to let oneself be educated in the moral law. Those in charge of education can reasonably be expected to give young people instruction respectful of the truth, the qualities of the heart, and the moral and spiritual dignity of man.” (¶2526) So this requires that we instruct our sons to avoid those people, places, and things where this is not the mode of dress for females. This would include places where females are immodestly dressed as well as entertainment (movies and television). When such things cannot be avoided by one’s own choice, the young men should be trained in custody of the eyes and turning away from those sources of temptation and displays of indignity. This may appear by some to be extreme but when we put the standards on a continuum we can see that it falls at a level of moderation between the extremes on either side present in the world.
We as parents, principally the fathers, are charged with instilling this into our children by teaching them and then guiding them along the way as circumstances of life continue to transpire. They will be trained on how to act and to react when situations become challenging and tempting. As fathers, we need to stand firm in this resolve because it will be challenged often by those closest to us. I will often hear or sense that fathers will think they cannot stand firm on some of these issues because they lack perfection. Of course if that is the case, then no one but God can stand in a place of authority. But God requires us even in our weakness to stand in that place, just as a Priest stands in His place for the faithful. None of them are perfect either, but God has given them a role to fulfill, as He has us. That being said though I have noticed that when I am not doing my best with myself it does cause me to be more lax in the role of authority. That’s not necessarily a good thing. We need to be firm in standing guard in this all important area for our families. No we won’t be perfect ourselves, but we can tell when we are not trying our best. There was a great motivator Jim Rohn who said what most “messes with the mind” is when a person is doing less than that which he is capable. And of course when we fathers do fall short and sin, we humbly confess our sins to the Priest in confession. That is his place, and we submit to his authority there. A wise Spiritual Director once told me that there are two things a father should rarely say: “I love you” and “I’m sorry.” I took that to mean that my actions were to indicate such more than simple cheap words.
God bless you+