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Shield Your Family

Posted By at Sunday, July 27, 2014

When we were married, as in most Catholic weddings, my wife and I prayed before the statue of The Blessed Mother seeking Her intercession in our marriage and family.  My wife remembers that her prayer to our Lady was that She wrap Her mantle around us as protection from evil.  (I don’t recall what my prayer was.)  Recently we were reminded of this when a young Priest visited our home and when giving a blessing to our family before his departure, he also asked our Lady to shield us with Her mantle.  It is true our Lady is a power ally for us in our fight against the evil one.  We pray our Rosary daily as a family and encourage other families to do so as well.  We have ourselves and our children invested in the Brown Scapular and all continually wear one for protection.  Recently, I have become increasingly aware of Her powerful intercession in the spiritual combat in which I find myself embroiled. 

I recall someone saying that an old wise Priest told him that a prayer that is not followed by action is no prayer at all but only a mere wish.  He tells a funny fable that makes a good point.  A lady’s house was infested with cockroaches.  She prayed and prayed and prayed to no avail—they did not go away but only multiplied.  She offered novenas that God spare her of her roach problem but it did not work.  How often do we as families do the same with the more important issue of the eternal souls of our children?  We pray that they remain chaste and resist temptations to sin, but do we protect them from the onslaught of evil dumped on them by the world?  The common reply to this is, “Well you can’t protect them from everything.”  No you can’t, but you can protect them from very many things.  Another is “You can’t shelter them all their lives.”  No you can’t, but you can shelter them for some of their lives and while doing so train them on how to be strong and virtuous amidst the pressures to succumb to immorality.  The prayer we offer must be followed with these actions if we wish that prayer to bear fruit.

The father is placed at the head of the family for this purpose.  This is the reason he must be respected and revered so that his authority remain intact for the good of the family, especially the children.  James Stenson, a Catholic educational consultant, has done extensive research on what he considers to be successful families.  Of course that designation can mean different things to different people.  But when you get down to it, most people want the same things for their kids.  Through his research he found some common traits among the fathers of these families and they are outlined in his book Father, the Family Protector.   He says they were smart.  “Whether they relied on rational, reflective thought about their fatherly role or were moved more by intuition, they seemed to understand what a father is and does.”  (p23)  That knowledge showed up in three areas:  they understand that (1) the main mission of the parents is to build strong character in their children, (2) a father’s main role is to protect his wife and children from harm and (3) a man must have integrity, acting consistently at work and at home. 

There are a few powerful insights we can glean just from these facts.  For one, it doesn’t sound like these men relied exclusively on a prayer (wish) but that if they did pray, they asked for wisdom and guidance on how to act then they acted.  Next, they were smart but not necessarily from academics or experts.  How often do we hear about the child behavioral expert who can’t handle his own children?  These men had care and concern for their duty and had wisdom (again which is a virtue thus can come through prayer) when fulfilling their role in the family.  A lot of this is common sense and just plain love of our children in action.  We have to remember the natural law is written on our hearts.  So many times the “experts” have been indoctrinated and have STUDIED all the wrong material.  They may have academic credentials but no concrete working knowledge of human nature from raising a family.  Mr. Stenson sought out those men who actually did it and were successful at raising good kids.

So if it’s the father’s job to be the head, what does the wife have to do?  Of course she is to enforce the father’s rules while he is away.  But he also says it is important that he listen to her concerns about the children.  They of course have their own intuition and are very sensitive to their children.  I know I tell my wife to let me know when she sees something in our children that is of some concern.  Sometimes I may have already addressed it, but often times I am unaware simply because she is with them more than I am.  Bear in mind, for a mother to be able to do this she has to be WITH her children, which is the principal reason for her dedicating herself to the home instead of a career.

 Additionally, Mr. Stenson offers three bits of advice to the wives (pp.249-251):   (1) Don’t expect your husband to be perfect, (2) don’t expect him to be like a woman, and (3) do all you can to lead your children to respect their father and his authority.  He prefaces these three bits with this statement, “Your husband’s success as a father depends enormously on you.”  It takes teamwork to raise a family.  This is why God created family to be father, mother, and children.  We all have a part to play, and when we each play our position well, we all win.

God bless you+

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My Wife is a Genius

Posted By at Monday, July 21, 2014

My wife and I had the fortune this past weekend to have a little down time or alone time as I had to visit the city to take care of a personal matter.  So we took advantage of the opportunity and did a little light shopping and dining at some of our favorite places.  At one of the shops, Missy found this sign, and she so playfully asked me to take a picture of her by it.  She knows she really is a big deal to me, my favorite person in the world.  I don’t often get her all to myself so it’s a special time when I do.  I believe God intended for marriage to be this way originally, and since the fall, for man and wife to enjoy each other’s company and companionship no matter if at work or at leisure.

She’s often very busy tending to our seven children while I toil away by the sweat of my brow to provide for our family.  I got a bit nostalgic this week when I was on Facebook and saw a friend post something about a favorite 90’s song.  I really enjoy high-quality music of several genres, and I find that music is very powerful in that it can take you back to where you were in your mind when you heard that song maybe regularly or for the first time.  So this brought me back to the 90’s and what was going on with me at the time.  I married my girlfriend (as I still call her) in 1990, and we quickly proceeded during that decade to bear 4 children.  I say “we” because I was heavily involved in the process, caring for her in times of sickness, working together rearing the children, keeping the household in order, etc.  Of course the next decade, we had 3 more children, and now we have quite a full house.

As I think of Missy and the beautiful person she is, I am captivated.  Those who know her know why.  She is so genuine and loving, caring for all those around her.  She is one who can really lift a person up, no matter who he or she may be.  I am reminded of St. John Paul II’s letter to women, Mulieris Dignitatem, where he refers to a “feminine genius.”  The Holy Father says “In this sense, our time in particular awaits the manifestation of that ‘genius’ which belongs to women, and which can ensure sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance: because they are human! - and because ‘the greatest of these is love’ (cf. 1 Cor 13:13).”30 

St. John Paul spends a great deal of time in this document on the vocation of women to motherhood.  He says “In this openness, in conceiving and giving birth to a child, the woman ‘discovers herself through a sincere gift of self’…Scientific analysis fully confirms that the very physical constitution of women is naturally disposed to motherhood - conception, pregnancy and giving birth - which is a consequence of the marriage union with the man.”18  I reflect back on the last 2 decades as we were having children, how Missy gave of herself in many months of morning sickness and discomfort in order to give life.  It was a beautiful experience through the whole process of pregnancy to delivery.  Thinking back it seems this may well have been her time of greatest vulnerability and weakness, and therefore her time of greatest need of my strength both physically and emotionally.  She needed the comfort of knowing I was there to care for her and support her in her weariness and fatigue. 

As our children are getting older, Missy is still mothering them all each in very different ways.  As St. John Paul says, she has “sensitivity for human beings in every circumstance.”  She was noticing in recent weeks that in the upcoming school year, she will only be teaching 4 of the kids.  This is quite a bit of change as she had got to as many as 7 at one time.  But even for our graduates she is seeing to it that their needs of a mother are met.  She encourages them, prays for them, advises them, and talks with them.  She’ll drive them to work or to classes and make sure they have whatever they need as they approach these new ventures in their transition to independence.

This is all very admirable and enjoyable to see.  Through all these experiences, she has a lot to share with other mothers of all ages.  She’s doing so now with ladies from across the country and around the world through this Apostolate.  Her videos and blog here on this site are quite popular.  This is yet another manifestation of this sensitivity to all people St. John Paul speaks of in women.  When I was doing my discourses on Mulieris Dignitatem a few months ago and discussed the document with her, she lightheartedly proclaimed, “The Pope said I’m a genius!”  I would have to agree with him.

As I said earlier, it’s nice to have some quiet time with her as she is so occupied in her duties of her state in life.  I’m sure she would say the same of me.  But this genius she possess spoken of by the Holy Father, is most particularly applied to me.  The “sensitivity” she shows to me is especially inspiring.  I am reminded of the creation of the original woman Eve.  God said “Let us create for him a help like unto himself (Gen2:18 DR).”  I have heard a lot of discussion over this term of “helper” or “helpmeet” and what God truly meant at this crucial point in the creation of humanity.  One of the best descriptions I heard was the term “sustainer.”  That would be the ideal description of what Missy is to me.  She sustains me, enlivens me, and keeps me going.  The confidence she has in me, the respect she has for me, and the way she depends on me as her husband calls out the strength and energy in me.  I make sure to take very good care of her not to push her into endeavors outside the realm of her responsibility and gifts.  I encourage her to do the things that will inspire her and avoid the things that will wear her down.  I work and care to sustain my sustainer.  It truly is a reciprocating relationship we have.  As I think about it, she really is a big deal. 

God bless you+

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Strong Marriages Benefit Society

Posted By at Monday, July 14, 2014

“This love (eros) is planted within our inmost being.  Unnoticed by us it attracts the bodies of men and women to each other because in the beginning woman came forth man, and from man and woman other men and women proceed…The love of husband and wife is the force that welds society together.  Men will take up arms and even sacrifice their lives for the sake of this love.”  This is a quote from St. John Chrysostom’s Homily 20 “On Ephesians 5:22-23,” part of a collection of homilies on marriage called On Marriage and Family Life.  I would think those of us with normal sexual inclinations can relate to these thoughts; I know I can.  I would definitely be willing to sacrifice and give my life for my wife.  She is everything to me, and I want her to be happy and at peace. 

I can relate to St. John’s imagery of welding society together.  I know with the strong marriage my wife and I have and the closeness it provides to our family that if more marriages were like this our whole society would be much stronger.  However today this is not the case.  The promptings of St. John could surely be used some 1,600+ years later.  They are very much appropriate today as St. John was tasked with Christianizing pagans who suddenly became Catholic at the proclamations of Constantine legalizing Christianity.  We should heed St. John’s advice as we are also living in a pagan culture that we are to try to evangelize and Christianize. 

Have we ever considered what our society might be like today if marriages were stronger and families were bound more in the closeness of love?  It is worthy of reflection.  You know, when we are attempting to reach a goal, it is extremely helpful to envision the reality of that goal.  Imagine how many creative thoughts people would be able to have if they were at peace in their marriages.  Imagine how productive people could be if they did not have to deal with the logistics of a divorce and broken family situation. 

St. John goes on “St. Paul would not speak so earnestly about this subject without serious reason; why else would he say, ‘Wives be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord’?  Because when harmony prevails, the children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends and relatives praise the result.”  Of course St. John lived in very close proximity of time to St. Paul.  Still, if you go right now to your Bible, you will see that this quote from St. Paul at Ephesians 5:22 is STILL the same and has not changed.  Not only that but if you look at authoritative Church teaching for centuries you will see that Holy Mother Church has continued to reinforce this Truth over and over.  The feminist ideology that is so strong in our culture and has dulled the resolve of many faithful Catholics would say that this Truth has CHANGED, and by rule we know as Catholics that Truth cannot change.  Some will also say that this is a protestant interpretation of Scripture.  How preposterous is that!  So our Church taught a protestant interpretation for nearly 2,000 years?  No dear Catholics, be at peace.  Nothing has changed.  Many of us just have not been taught complete Truth.  We have heard many half-truths in the last few decades but we need to seek and dig deeper.

I have personally experienced what St. John attested to in these words along with my wife and children.  We have a very close-knit happy family.  We followed this counsel since very early on in our marriage.  As a man, the peace that comes from having a wife who supports me in my decisions and leadership of our family allows me to think clearly and plan and execute that plan.  Our children see my wife supporting and sustaining me, being agreeable and cooperative.  Children from an early age learn by example.  If they see someone constantly challenging authority or being difficult they will imitate that.  If they see someone being agreeable and cooperative they will imitate that as well.  For us, it has worked quite beautifully.  As St. John says “children are raised well, the household is kept in order, and neighbors, friends and relatives praise the result.”  This is precisely how the connection between wifely subjection and the discipline and formation of the children is made.  For a wife who follows this wise counsel, she will not be concerned when her children get older and become naturally independent and may start to become disrespectful.  Her husband will guard her honor and demand that she be respected, and the children will yield to their father as they have been trained.

Of course this will meet with great resistance with many women of today, as it did in St. John’s time and St. Paul’s time which is why they both preached and taught on it.  We do as well here.  To help make it more understandable St. John points out “Either Paul means ‘as knowing that you are serving the Lord’ (which indeed he says elsewhere, that even if the wife does not obey for her husband’s sake, she must do so primarily for the Lord’s sake); or else he means, “When you yield to your husband, consider that you are obeying him as part of your service to the Lord.  If ‘he who resists the authorities (governments) resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment,’ (cf Lk14:33,18:29) how much more severely will God judge someone who resists not an external authority, but that of her own husband, which God willed from the beginning?”

St. John then warns of what happens when this order is not followed “When it is otherwise, however, everything is thrown into confusion and turned upside-down.  When the generals of an army are at peace with each other, everything proceeds in an orderly fashion, and when they are not, everything is in disarray.”

We each need to decide what we want for ourselves and then act accordingly.  Do we want the eros planted deeply within our inmost beings to blossom into something harmonious and even passionate?  Or do we want to think we are above human nature and try to accomplish the same in our own way, only ending up with “confusion and disarray.”  Heed the counsel of the Saints and the Church and reap accordingly. 

 

God bless you+

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Why Men Fear

Posted By at Tuesday, July 08, 2014

If there’s one thing we’ve learned here while expressing the need for families to return to rightful order for their own good and the good of society, it’s that men are stymied by a wave of fear.  Why would that be?  We live in possibly the most advanced society with all sorts of protection—military protection, police protection, fire protection, animal protection, protection this, protection that, yet we still fear?  How can that be?  What are we afraid of?

Possibly we’re afraid of not living up to society’s expectations of us.  What might those expectations be?  Well we should get a good job, go to work every day, buy a home, save up for retirement, and provide for our kids’ college funds, so they can do the same.  That sounds easy enough, and it really is.  I heard a rather humorous rendition of this during the week by a financial advisor.  He said, believe it or not, all of those things are going to happen.  You probably already have a home because you have to live somewhere.  Whether you believe it or not, you will retire some day.  You may or may not have all the money you planned on having, but you will retire.  And college?  Your kids will go to college if they really want to whether or not you give them the money.  You know, he’s right, because I surely did without my parents giving it to me.

So, I’m not convinced that it is financial fears that consume men.  Actually, the fears they confide in me usually aren’t exclusively financial, if at all.  That makes sense as most men have their finances supplemented by their wives working, so the full weight isn’t on them anyway.  I’ve noticed that many men fear women though.  Our last article well pointed that out.  Shamefully, many even fear their own wives, the soft delicate flower of a person with whom they should share the deepest intimacies.  That seems strange to me but it’s true.  I keep hearing others talk about it over and over.  I notice it out in the marketplace.  One man said of his wife, “It’s just when she gets to screaming and hollering, I just can’t handle it.”  So if that’s the tactic of a woman, what’s a man to do but do anything he has to in order to avoid it?

So if a man’s got to tiptoe around his own home in order not to upset his wife when is he ever supposed to take charge and lead?  The common reply to that even among many Catholics today is that he’s not.  The husband and wife are to be “partners” and both lead.  Well, I’m sorry to tell you but what I just described is NOT a husband and wife both leading; it is the wife being an angry and hateful tyrant.  This is what many men fear, and because of ignorance of authentic Church teaching men are disarmed from responding to it in any way.  We hear a lot of blame against men of avoiding commitment and delaying giving themselves in marriage.  If this is what they see as a genuine Catholic marriage, why would any man want to give himself to such a woman and “love her as Christ loves the Church giving Himself up for her?”  I can see their reason for hesitancy.

The fact is that the Holy Roman Catholic Church still to this day teaches that the husband is head of his wife.  The wife is to be submissive to her husband.  There are no “new teachings” that have replaced the “old,” and there is no “developed doctrine” on family since we’ve become so much smarter now and understand human interaction so much better.  If anyone really believes that, just look at the divorce statistics between the time when husbands were the head of the house and those of now. 

So what’s a man to do?  Choose wisely.  This is for those men who find themselves in that situation of fear of commitment prior to marriage.  That’s a good fear that must be overcome.  It’s good because that should cause you to exercise holy caution.  Make sure the woman you marry will be one who is willing to submit to your lead.  Be sure to discuss it, and be up front about this being the way things will be.  Know that how she treats you in the courtship will carry on into marriage.  Above all maintain objectivity by remaining celibate prior to marriage. 

Men also fear themselves.  While they are to be these leaders of families and carry them on their backs, albeit with the loving and faithful support of their wives, society has things so much stacked against them from accomplishing this.  It is a daunting intimidating proposition.  They fear themselves because of their own weaknesses.  If a man has the guts and determination to do it completely and take it upon himself to rightfully lead his family, it will take everything he’s got and it’s as though he’d better not make a single slip-up because it will all come crashing down.  He is afraid of his own sinfulness and weakness.  It would be hard enough if he did it all right, but with the weaknesses he knows all too well that he’s been fighting all his live, how on earth will he do it?

The answer is Grace.  Grace is the all-powerful strength that kicks in where our own strength wanes.  We received it at Baptism, and we renew it in the Sacraments.  We can lose it with sin and regain it with Confession.  Our Lady stores our graces up for us as we receive the Sacraments and sends them to us when we ask for them.  We just have to ask.  Our Lady of Grace showed many rays of Graces pouring from her fingertips which were those no one ever asked for.  Just ask.  Gain the Graces, store them up, and ask.

Men, we can’t do it on our own, but with God’s grace we can do what He commands and expects of us.  We aren’t expected to do all things, but we are expected to do our things.  Have no fear whatsoever.  Fear is from Satan.  He wants to see you fail.  Look him dead in the eye, and show him you will serve your God to the death.

God bless you+

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Equal Dignity is for Men Too

Posted By at Monday, June 30, 2014

Often we’ll remind men here of their duty and responsibility to lead their families.  Obviously there are a multitude of issues and concerns that come up in family life that require someone to keep order and to make correction.  God established an order within the family where the man is the head, the mom is the heart, and the children are to be obedient to them both.  Note that there is only one head, the father.  There is no co-leadership.  This is the Rule for the family.  Any other arrangement is a disorder and deviant, even though many exist in our society.  To try to philosophically approach a matter from deviance would be fallacious. 

That particular instance arose recently when we shared an article regarding immodest dress by girls and women, which advised a solution that aligns with our philosophies here at FIX.  The solution of course is for man to correct his wife and daughters when they attempt to dress immodestly or simply when an article of clothing doesn’t meet the standards of modesty, possibly accidentally chosen.  The wife and daughters are bound under the pain of sin to obey the man of the house.  So it should be a simple enough solution to return modesty to society, at least for Catholic and Christian households.  However, it’s not quite that simple because we observe the same obstacle that the author does and points out in his courageous article:  "I think there are many pastors and church leaders, who, like many husbands and fathers, are afraid to speak up for fear of offending women."  Ah, yes, this goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden when Adam failed in his duty to his wife to protect her from evil.

Well lo and behold, don’t you know that a certain commenter comes along and says that a stronger focus should be on custody of the eyes than modesty in dress.  Of course the Church has always emphasized both but today almost nothing is being said or done about immodest dress.  Almost always, the blame is placed squarely on the men for not being in control of themselves.  If that is so, I have to wonder why in the past Catholic schools would place girls and boys in different schools.  Was it because the students are more virtuous today than they were then?  Let’s look at the problems we have with the promiscuity of teens and adults today as opposed to then.  Of course the answer is NO, and the issue is that we have failed to enforce the habit of avoiding the near occasions of sin to the detriment of the faithful.  So when I replied to his comment that women’s dress is out of control and needs to be reined in (by the men) then he starts talking about affronts to a fellow human being’s (woman’s) dignity.  Now this is a man who has on his Facebook profile that he studied at a conservative Catholic university, the name of which I will not mention. 

So this has become the way out of a man assuming his God-given role in the family.  Instead of manning up and taking charge, he is to be passive and allow his wife to lead so as not to deny her of her dignity.  And unfortunately, this is the way papal documents and Church teaching are being misrepresented and misinterpreted even in universities claiming to be legitimate and obedient to the Magisterium.  This is a blurring of two completely different issues—roles and dignity.  If a priest or nun joins an order, they have to be obedient to their Superiors, but they still have their equal dignity as humans.  If a man is in the military, he has equal dignity with his superiors but must be obedient to them.  The idea that the same no longer applies in marriage, especially Catholic marriage, is completely unfounded.  When I reminded the man that doctrine does not change, he had the audacity to say that “doctrine develops.”  Well if that were the case, it does not “develop” by making a complete 180 and going in the other direction.  No, this is a deceptive trick by Satan that preys upon men’s fear of dealing with the closest females in their lives, their own wives and daughters.  It’s to the point that a woman will be more submissive to her boss at work than her own husband and still claim this is supported by Church teaching. 

The current situation within most families isn’t this fallacy of co-leadership, it is the wife running the family.  If you think that’s an exaggeration, just visit your local Wal-Mart and watch the people.  It is a total embarrassment of how many women address their own husbands, the total disrespect and dishonor is deplorable.  Yes, I believe in equal dignity for women AND men.  It seems we're only concerned about equal dignity when it comes to rights to education and employment.  Well God warned about trying to serve God and mammon.  All the while, we watch our marriages fall apart and our children seduced by the evils of the world.  Men it’s way past time that you stepped into your God-given role as leader in your family.  You’ll have to stand before the Judgment Seat of God and make an account of how you fulfilled your vows made to Him at the Altar when you married your wife.  Your role of leadership falls within those vows.

God bless you+

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'Til Death do Us Part! ...Really?

Posted By at Monday, June 23, 2014

We believe as Catholics that marriage is Sacred and permanent, at least as permanent as the earthly lives of both of the spouses.  Whenever either of the spouses dies, the other spouse is free to marry again as the existing marriage is no longer in effect.  Other than that, the couple is bound together for life regardless of the circumstances and not free to seek union with another.  If you go to a Catholic wedding, the vows the couple recites should include some reference to permanence like “until death do us part” or “I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.”  All Catholics are made to understand that what they are entering into regardless of the verbiage of the vows is a COMMITMENT to the spouse for life.

I’m really not sure what kind of vows or understandings a protestant couple recites or believes or that of a civilly married couple.  But if we look at the divorce rate for all couples in the western world, it is horrific.  Of course you’ll have some starry-eyed people saying things like “it’s getting better” but without considering the number of couples who are living together shacked up in essence test driving each other before taking things any further.  That of course is a huge lie I believe we can all just admit to.  There are so many couples who are living in such an arrangement who are just aimlessly meandering through life not giving any thought to when they are going to make the relationship permanent.  Often they’ll blame it on the cost of the wedding or the bureaucracy involved with going through the Church’s procedures.  But let’s just cut to the chase and admit that we in the western world have a huge problem with COMMITMENT, especially men.

Yet couples will often tell each other what the other wants to hear for them to remain in the relationship as long as they want them there.  Men will tell women that they will always love them, but won’t buy a ring or set a date.  Unfortunately it appears women have bought these lies hook line and sinker at alarming rates.  Apparently they are banking on giving him everything he wants will keep him satisfied and faithful.  Ladies have to wake up and realize that this is a losing proposition all the way around.

If a relationship is based on convenience and pleasure, we can see how quickly each of the members of the relationship will be dissatisfied very quickly.  If we are looking for what we can get out of the relationship, it will be headed for trouble.  You could understand why a lady would be looking for permanence in a marriage.  Once she begins to have children, she will need care, sustenance, and protection for them.  If a man is simply interested in convenience and pleasure, this will be the least of his concerns.  This is why many couples will simply live together and contracept and have as many good times as possible outside of their busy work schedules.  But for a lady, the “biological clock is ticking” and her human nature (hormonally) is going to kick in and remind her that she wants to have children.  Does she believe that since she has tried to fulfill his “needs” all this time that he will suddenly want to have a family with her?  That may seem logical, but I would just ask those same ladies who believe that to look around and see how well that has panned out for other ladies in her circle.  From where I stand, that proposition does not look very promising.

Wow, so what’s the solution?  Sure we here at fixthefamily as well as many websites and movements geared toward driving men to virtue aim to give men a sense of duty in the relationships they pursue with women.  But it appears as long as men are not required to make that sacrifice and strive toward virtue, they naturally will not.  Sure there are a “few good men” but they’re just that “a few,” a small percentage, a minority.  Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen said "The history of civilization could actually be written in terms of the level of its women."

Ladies have got to have an unchanging standard in their relationships with men.  It is simply to remain chaste until marriage to the point of possibly never marrying.  If a man will only stay in a relationship with a woman if she will sacrifice her soul and sinfully please him, what are the chances he has her best interest at heart?  We as Catholic fathers need to instill this standard into our daughters.  Most certainly we need to instill a chaste virtue into our sons, but how much more for our daughters who could so easily be abandoned by a man who is not willing to sacrifice himself for her and the children they procreate. 

God bless you+

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The Courage to Communicate

Posted By at Monday, June 16, 2014

We often hear as men that we are to be courageous, and this is true.  In all actuality, courage is not the absence of fear, but actually facing fears and overcoming them.  This is what it means to be courageous.  There are many things that men fear.  It is said that the thing men (and women for that matter) fear most, even more than death is to speak before a crowd.  Another great fear men face is the fear of failure.  This fear often holds men back from becoming everything they can be and from doing anything outside their comfort zone or familiar zone.  But a fear that is not often discussed is the fear of communication, especially with one’s wife.   This is where men really need to muster up some courage to keep a relationship on track.

We know that women love to talk, so they have the edge on communication.  This is because as Fr. Paul Marx pointed out, women are the more social gender.  They are more relationship oriented, while we men are more geared toward things and processes and tasks.  This just means that we have to work harder at relationships.  Obviously the most important human relationship for a man will be with his wife.  His relationships with his children are also of immense importance, and I’ll deal with that in a separate article.  But still those are secondary to the husband-wife relationship since this one is a Sacrament. 

It may be that some couples have even been married for quite a while and still never developed a deeply communicative relationship.  This is very possible especially in cases where a relationship was more physical early on instead of personal.  Of course this happens all too frequently as morality has declined and couples get into sinfully physical relationships before marriage.  This is a principal reason for such a high divorce rate.

But then there are also couples who remain together but never really reach the depth of a relationship they should.  Married life is quite complex and goes through various stages.  As children come along, it adds to the complexity.  As they grow and go through their own stages of life, parents have to be able to guide them through.  A couple really has to be on the same page in order to do this.  A man has to be able to openly communicate with his wife about just about anything.  Of course there are things we don’t necessarily need to burden our wives with or things that should be reserved for the Confessional or spiritual director.  But other than that we need to have an open line of communication, especially about the things that are going on with her.

This can be quite an undertaking for some men.  Many men will often just not want to take the time or effort to really know what’s going on inside their own wives.  It’s possible he may fear what he will find out.  This is where courage comes into play.  Through years of experience, I can tell when something is bothering my wife.  There were many occasions, mostly in the past, where I would have to coax and prod her to tell me what may be bothering her.  As was always the case, once we were able to discuss it and put it into perspective or determine a way to handle it, she would feel much better.  Even better though, the case has always been that each one of these moments or conversations would bring us closer together.  It would build our relationship as a married couple.  It would cause us to love each other more.  This is the reason for the close relationship we have today.  I can tell that she really appreciates my interest in her and my willingness to listen to her. 

So men, if you are running into trouble with this or if you’ve always had this difficulty, it’s time to face it.  It’s not something that can be solved in one discussion.  But the first discussion has to be had.  That one will be followed by many more.  It may be quite painful with some of the heavy burdens a woman can be carrying around.  This may be the reason for your fear.  But face the fear and start today.  Your wife will appreciate you for it; she will love you for it. 

God bless you+
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Ladies, What are you doing for your Marriage?

Posted By at Monday, June 09, 2014

Very often when relationships go bad, especially marriages, we hear the couple say, “I’m not getting anything out of this relationship.”  Of course, if we stop and think long enough we really know deep down inside, in a Catholic marriage anyway, that this is not what’s required.  Maybe the goal of a pagan relationship is to get something out of it, but that’s not our subject matter here.  We know as Catholics that we are called to GIVE, so the appropriate question we should ask ourselves is “What am I doing for my marriage.”  We are called to give, to sacrifice, and to love without limits. 

So, this should make us stop and take an assessment of how we approach our marriage in our mind.  Am I approaching things selfishly from my perspective or thinking more of what I am giving to my spouse?  Fr. Paul Marx (1920-2010), founder of Population Research Institute, in a lecture he gave on the dangers of feminism, mentioned a study of the common weaknesses among men and women in marriage.  Women would fear loneliness, whereas men have a tendency toward discouragement.  Ladies, this is helpful to understand in your relationship with your husband.

Men are wired to succeed, to achieve, to conquer, to subdue, to create, to build.  When he acquires something he wants more.  When he achieves something, he wants to go further.  He was wired this way so that he could achieve his purpose of provider as outlined for him by God in Genesis (3:19).  But we live in an imperfect world, so we difficulties and challenges come and we don’t achieve that which we are trying to accomplish we tend to get discouraged.  The person who can most effectively encourage him is his wife.  I refer to this as the “cheerleader concept.”  She can be his greatest fan.  I’ve seen women do a really amazing job at getting their husbands to achieve marvelous things.  Another term I use for this is “stoking” your husband, like you stoke a fire. 

The best example I’ve heard of this was the story told by Zig Ziglar (1926-2012) of his wife Jean.  Zig is likely the best known contemporary personal development expert and motivator.  It took him a while to get his enterprise going, and at times things may have been discouraging for him (although that’s hard to imagine if you’ve ever heard him speak).  But Jean instead of just telling him to give up on his dream, told him that there was something very powerful and special in him that the world needed to hear so people could become what they are called to be.  Imagine if Jean hadn’t been that great cheerleader for Zig all of the many people who would never have achieved the great things they have due to his influence and motivation.  I know he has definitely had an impact on me, so I am very appreciative of his wife Jean.

Theologian and professor Brant Pitre in a talk on Ephesians 5 and the roles of husbands and wives in marriage called “Wives do What” related a story of a man who had done marriage counseling in a Church parish he attended.  The man said in almost all cases the common complaint in troubled marriages by the wife was that her husband never “chose” her.  He chose work or another woman or sports or pornography, but not her.  The common complaint of men toward their wives was that she didn’t respect him.  It reminded him of the Ephesians 5 verse where St. Paul admonishes each against these tendencies by telling the wives to submit to their husbands and the husbands to love their wives. 

Please understand ladies, as difficult as it may be, the respect you give to your husband is golden to him.  It means the world to him.  If anyone disrespects him it’s nothing compared to the disrespect from the woman whom he loves as Christ loves the Church and has given his life up for.  He has given his life up for you.  Show your appreciation to him in the way he wants to be appreciated, and never show disrespect toward him especially in front of your children. 

Marriage can be a wonderful experience or it can be the most dreadful part of your life.  A great marriage doesn’t come automatically.  It takes effort, sacrifice, and empathy.  Prayerfully discern how you may be coming across to your husband in your interactions with him.  Care enough to ask him how you are coming across to him.  You may not even realize how some things sound to him.  Men don’t tend to be the greatest communicators in the world so they may not have the courage or confidence to let you know.  Gently have a discussion with him about it and if your marriage is everything it can be and what you can do to change to make it better.

What are you doing for your marriage?

God bless you+

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Men, What are you doing for your Marriage?

Posted By at Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Very often when relationships go bad, especially marriages, we hear the couple say, “I’m not getting anything out of this relationship.”  Of course, if we stop and think long enough we really know deep down inside, in a Catholic marriage anyway, that this is not what’s required.  Maybe the goal of a pagan relationship is to get something out of it, but that’s not our subject matter here.  We know as Catholics that we are called to GIVE, so the appropriate question we should ask ourselves is “What am I doing for my marriage.”  We are called to give, to sacrifice, and to love without limits. 

The Church (and therefore we) use St. Paul’s letter to the Ephesians (5:22-25) as the directive on the proper roles in marriage.  Paraphrasing, husbands are to lead their families, and wives are to submit themselves to their husbands’ leadership role as established by Almighty God.  This obviously didn’t start with St. Paul in the New Testament but was always the case in marriage.  Since couples had as much trouble following these natural roles then as we do now, Paul had to state the obvious.  Pope Pius XI in 1930 (Casti Connubii, still teaching the hard of heart) made the analogy that the husband is the head, and the wife is the heart, again paraphrasing.  There is an immense amount of confusion today with these as various things being said are misconstrued and the culture around us breaks down and the roles start to blur.  To bring clarity, we are to understand that (1) these roles are not reversible, ie the husband is always the head, and (2) there is no co-leadership, ie the husband is the only head of the family.

So men, this is a huge amount of responsibility.  Comparing this to organizations or businesses, if you have a leader who is puffed up and egotistical about his title as leader and is not willing to carry out the duties of the role, that organization will fail.  We saw this a lot with the dot-com bubble in the late 90’s when so many “virtual” businesses were started as computer and internet based companies but had no real business background or skills.  The executives in many of those companies were quick to take a large salary, drive fancy cars, and engage in luxurious travel, but were not willing to put in the time it took to run those businesses.  So those businesses failed.

It may sound like an “off-the-wall” question as to “What are you doing for your marriage.”  If so, we’ve got a lot of work to do and a lot to learn.  Possibly we take marriage for granted; we think that a marriage will just stay on auto-pilot since we’re with the one we “love.”  That’s a gross misunderstanding of how a relationship is going to not only be sustained but to have any growth at all.  Quite often, I’ll observe that married men want to go off and hang out with the guys.  Personally, I don’t know, maybe I’m just different, but I have NEVER understood that phenomenon.  Now this is just me, but I’m a guy, I have a gorgeous great wife.  I REALLY like being with her for obvious natural reasons.  If I have a choice, I’m not going to be hanging out with some guys leaving my wife behind somewhere.  Again, that’s just me, and I’m just sayin.’  But the phenomenon of hanging with the guys begs the question “Why did you get married if you still wanted to behave like a bachelor?”

I realize today, very few men are courageous enough to invoke the Ephesians 5 authority they have in marriage.   But more commonly, very few men are even aware of it or understand the reality that it still applies to marriage today.  But if we did, we’d realize that Paul’s admonition to men is to love their wives as Christ loved the Church.  Unfortunately, many women quickly state this, pointing out that Christ died for the Church, which makes me want to ask if they want their husbands dead.  Nevertheless, I digress.  The text actually reads “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ also loved the church, and delivered himself up for it” Eph 5:25.  Some translations’ wording is “…and gave himself up for her.”  That helps us to understand more precisely what those of us living husbands are supposed to do:  We are to lead our families and our marriages without using the authority we possess for selfish purposes. 

I’ve seen men do some pretty childish things.  They’ll hide money from their wives in separate bank accounts to pay for their hobbies and toys.  They’ll lie and ask someone to lie and cover for them while they go off to some event or pleasurable function they’d get a hard time for from their wife.  Are these men leading in those situations?  In these cases, they are treating their wives as though they were their mothers.  It is as though they know they won’t have “permission” to do what they want.  And why is that?  Because what they want to do is childishly selfish.  Does that mean we should never have any recreation?  Of course not, since recreation is a part of a healthy lifestyle.  But men often are obsessive and tend toward the pleasure and shirk responsibility.  Or that’s the temptation.  Real men see this and guard against that temptation and act in the opposite direction.

Women see this as their men choosing to be away from them.  They long for our company, the company of the man they love.  Their thoughts are “Why doesn’t he want me…why doesn’t he choose me… why does he choose “x” instead of me…why am I not good enough for him to spend time with?”   Men, it’s about TIME.  What are you doing with it?  Are we selfishly spending it with those away from the love of our life?  What reaction is that causing in her?  Is she a pain to be around?  Maybe it’s your fault if she is.  Hurting people hurt people.  If your wife is troubled, ask what’s troubling her…and be prepared for tough answers…if she answers you truthfully.  It’s about TIME.  What are you doing for your marriage? 

God bless you+

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Are We Preparing our Kids to Fail?

Posted By at Tuesday, May 27, 2014

It’s that time of year again:  Students are graduating from high school with great aspirations for their future, and those who are considered to be the most fortunate are the ones who will receive the ticket to go on to college and university to receive those coveted degrees because it’s common knowledge that those with degrees make more money right?  Right?  Well?  Not always, what do you mean not always?  And after all money is the most important thing right?  Right?  Well isn’t it?  It’s not? 

Well here we are claiming one thing but acting toward another.  Here’s what I mean.  When I wrote the article last year 6+ Reasons to NOT Send your Daughter to College there was quite a bit of an uproar.  Our site which at the time might get 100-200 hits per day got hit over 1,000,000 times within a month.  It was great for business!  But in the article, which was very charitably written and genuine, I predicted the common objections.  Despite those anticipations and my rebuttals thereto, people still violently and profanely accused me of less than pure motives. 

But here is a point that is very telling, the first comment to the article on the website which received over 5,000 LIKES, was “So, please, what is an 18yo girl to do then? Bag groceries till a prince charming comes along to give a few kids?”  My response to that is “So please tell me, is your daughter going to college to get a degree, or to find a man who will get a degree?”  Or as I put it in the article worse yet “Is you daughter going to get a degree and find a man to support with it?”  I know that sounds harsh, but this is the reality of situations in many families, and the women in those marriages come to resent it and often end up divorced.  I have seen it happen repeatedly, and some way we have got to break the cycle.  The way to do that is to correctly direct our daughters (and sons) BEFORE it’s too late.

We as parents have to take back control over influencing the decisions of our own children and stop relegating it to the government via the school system.  As parents entrust their children to government (and Catholic) schools, their influence is transferred over as well.  The school system and “educators” are in the business of school.  They see degrees and diplomas as the ultimate accomplishment.  However, we’ve all seen the reports as to how many college graduates can’t find jobs.  All the while in heavy industrial areas, business is booming while skilled laborers are hard to come by.  So where’s the logic?

So in this discussion, I’ll get people beyond the “education”/degree issue, which ends up being a dramatic emotional ploy to the tune of “They can never take your education away from you” and then get to the meat of the matter.  “Well, what’s a young person to do at that age, bag groceries?” as stated above.  In the case of the girls, they’ll have a degree “to fall back on just in case.”  Just in case what?  In case she ends up divorced?  This ends up being a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Yes, they prepare themselves to fail.  The dual career arrangement puts too much pressure on marriage and family and often is embedded with the mortal sins of contraception and sterilization so that the wife can continue to work and not get pregnant.  As much as Catholic schools are the catalyst for this arrangement, this is not a Catholic way of life.

Let’s slow things down and sit with our kids and give them a realistic perspective of real life and the impact of the decisions they are about to make.  Let’s walk through it with them beyond the 4-year degree and what the next steps are.  Let’s give them the real picture of what day-to-day work life is and the issues of having children while working and the stresses to mothers of dropping their infants off at daycare for total strangers to raise.  Let’s make sure that our sons and daughters realize the impact of this to husbands, wives, and children.  Is the high school counselor doing this?  How about the college advisors?  Or are they just painting a rosy picture of how fantastic a career the kids are going to have.  Certainly, some occupations do require a degree.  Let’s talk with our SONS before sending them into the enemy’s camp and describe the dangers to their Faith and morals they will face and be certain in their career path and make sure it’s worth the risk.  For some reason, with all these degrees strewn about, families are failing at record rates.  The worst casualties are the children, but our society as a whole suffers from disintegrated families.  The Church teaches us that the family is the basic unit of society, so it’s no mistaking that Satan is at the bottom of their destruction.  But he is very subtle and cunning.  He uses everything he can against us, yes even “education.”

God bless you+