Join the Citabelles on The Good Life for their personal testimonies on how they each came to wear veils to Holy Mass and in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
Join the Citabelles on The Good Life for their personal testimonies on how they each came to wear veils to Holy Mass and in the Presence of the Blessed Sacrament.
True manhood is marked by the ability to make and keep commitments. Of course the most significant of these commitments would be one that would last a lifetime, which would be a man’s commitment to his vocation—the priesthood, religious life, or marriage. This very trait is the one that is sorely needed in men today. How often do we hear about men falling down on commitments, being unfaithful to their wives or not doing the thing they said they would do?
At 45 years old, I am a member of Generation X. One of the marks that we are known for is a lack of commitment. Let’s look at some of the changes from previous generations where ours may have not been trained in an atmosphere of commitment:
You can probably think of others, but I think these are the most common. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not making any excuses for us. But we as a society have to realize we reap what we sow.
Yes, this is the environment I grew up in. I was blessed to have a two-parent home, but I saw my share of lack of commitment all around me. The striking thing to me is the amount of selfishness that drives it all. The next thing I notice is that despite the selfish motives behind the lack of commitment, in the end the uncommitted one is still unhappy. What many fail to comprehend is the difference between misery and temporary discomfort.
Discomfort is a part of life. We are human; we get tired and weak. Donald Trump, well known real estate magnate and entrepreneur, said “your higher self lies outside your comfort zone.” This is what Christ calls us to, our higher self. Commitment causes us to keep moving forward in the face of pain or discomfort. Commitment causes us to work through difficulty in our relationships instead of ending them. It causes us to seek to understand our wives and their needs when they get in the way of our desires or selfishness. Commitment causes us to pass on doing things for ourselves to be present to our children and develop a relationship with them so that we can guide them on through life.
In the end, when we lay aside our selfishness out of commitment, we arrive at a place called contentment or joy. I remember Mother Angelica saying on her EWTN live show that happiness and pleasure are things of this world, but joy is heavenly, a spiritual experience. Christ said “Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”(Matt 10:39) This is not to say that we are called to be miserable. We have to be true to ourselves and pursue that which will be truly fulfilling in the unique way God has made each of us. It is a call to maturity, a call away from the childish pursuits of pleasures toward responsible self-giving love. It is a call to make wise choices based on logic and reason and a rejection of making decisions based on emotion and desire.
Commitment takes time; it is not something that comes easy. But it lays the foundation for a solid and firm future. It is like the foundation of a building, of a home. This reminds us of what Christ said about being wise. Those who listened to His words and acted on them are like the wise man who built his house on rock; those who did not act on them were like a fool who built his house on sand. (cf Matt 7:24-27) Notice our Lord says the one who ACTS is the one who is wise. It is not sufficient to listen or to learn or to possess knowledge. We must ACT on it if we wish to be wise and not foolish.
Commitment requires action. It’s easy to talk a good show, but it takes a man to back up his words with action. Little boys tell stories full of fantasy about what they will do. Women pick up on this quickly. A boy tells her what she wants to hear in order to have his way with her. A wise woman will require him to prove himself to be a real man, to make a commitment to her, a lifetime commitment before she makes a commitment to him. The action of commitment doesn’t just last for a day or a week or a month. It continues for the required amount of time to meet the task. Sometimes that may be a year, sometimes 10 years, and yes, sometimes a lifetime.
So, it’s important to know what things we should make a commitment to and what things can stay open-ended. This requires us to make priorities in life.
God bless you+
When we talk about education here, like anything else, we bring it into the reality of the day-to-day life of a Catholic living within the moral and theological law of the Church established by Christ. Just based on my own observations knowing what the Church teaches and seeing how certain institutions with the “Catholic” label on them conduct their operations, some things just don’t seem to add up. Catholic education is one of those institutions. While many who are also perplexed and frustrated have resorted to homeschooling, I must say that many homeschooling families have me equally puzzled.
Let’s just start off with the basic teaching of which EVERYONE is aware: that married Catholics should be open to having children. Now be certain that it is understood here that it is precisely stated that way as there are numerous situations that are BEYOND the couple’s control that may cause them to have a limited number of children or none at all, meaning physiological/medical limitations. Of course we recognize that is not a choice the couple has made. But outside of that, what’s the common phrase on the street when someone sees a large family? “They must be ‘good’ Catholics.” So as common of an understanding as that is, I don’t feel that it’s necessary for me on this occasion to pull documents and reference them. Often when someone states this, it is to mean that the couple is being obedient to the Church’s teaching that artificial contraception is a moral evil and should always be avoided under the pain of mortal sin.
This begs the question as to whether or not this fact is even being taught in the Catholic schools. But beyond the mere stating of moral law, if it is taught, does the philosophy behind this teaching come out at all whatsoever? Again, just from the outside looking in, I’m a bit perplexed. The Church teaches us that children are a blessing from God. The love relationship between a man and his wife when carried out physically to its culmination can result in the generation of a new life with an immortal soul. How can any other vocation or calling (job), outside of the higher religious vocations, compare to this? Now the schools may be teaching it in a Catechism or religion class, but where do the students find evidence of that reality? If children are such a blessing shouldn’t we want them in abundance, more than material possessions? Please note the capital sin of avarice at this point. How often are the students, girls in particular but also boys, told that it is an “option,” which should be stated as preferred option, for a girl to grow up to be a full-time mother? Is this promoted at all whatsoever? Or do we go to religion class and hear about how you can’t use birth control and should be open to children, but the rest of the time are being railroaded into a career. This is the juncture at which we need to make distinctions between the girls and the boys. Is that done? I’m just asking. If so, what would be the parents’ reactions to something as counter-cultural as this? Would they find another place to have their children “educated” (indoctrinated)?
Of course if they did, that could be awfully confusing to the students as the teacher trying to teach this might actually be the one who is using contraception while her own child is at daycare. She (or he) may or may not be Catholic depending on the school. He or she may or may not be in a valid marriage. Wow, this “Catholic education” is really starting to get complicated if we think these things through. This isn’t your grandparents’ school that had boys and girls separated taught by religious brothers and sisters. Again, when the theology got sloppy in the 70’s and 80’s after the religious had all left in the 60’s, many parents resorted to homeschooling when they couldn’t get satisfactory results. Now many of them are trying to impress the world by sending their daughters to college and proposing careers to them. If homeschooling was such a great idea for these parents, why wouldn’t it be equally great for their kids and grandkids?
Homeschooling is the most conducive role for a wife being the primary educator, as the Church teaches us parents are, while still being open to life and having an abundance of children if that is God’s Will for that couple. Again, He should be the one in CONTROL of this, not the couple. The couple should be focused on the love they share and allowing God to work in their marriage to do His Will mainly by bringing babies into the world. Why would a mother teaching other people’s children be seen as a higher calling that her educating her own as the Church teaches us we are to do? Is it only because it produces a paycheck and is applauded by society? Who is going to care for the children, and how can she continue to have more children while she works?
I become even more perplexed when I hear one of the few Catholic girls’ schools remaining proclaim that they are training the leaders of tomorrow. Really? Are they promoting that these girls enter convents to practice this leadership? Or are they erroneously training them to be the leaders of their homes? Was submission removed from the Bible? The same goes with Catholic universities and colleges. Their doors are open to women preparing them for careers outside the home, which will often conflict with bearing children and require contraception and/or sterilization in order to maintain.
So when we raise these issues people warn us that we are not “going along” with today’s Catholic education as they see the co-ed Catholic colleges and read the documents of the Church esteeming the exalted merits of education. But this is not the education that the Church promotes. She never intended for women to purposely go into careers that would conflict with their marriages and family. This is the disconnect between that concept of “education” and the reality of the day to day life of a Catholic. If we stop and think about this, it may be no wonder to us why Catholics thumb their noses at the Church’s moral law. The Catholic institutions themselves aren’t doing their job in reinforcing it.God bless you+
A quality that men generally have been granted by God is that of focus. Men tend to be able to “compartmentalize” their lives and activities and this makes for some very productive time in the areas where our time is spent.
We all possess a certain degree of focus, but if it is not cultivated and preserved, it can be diminished, possibly severely. We can nurture our focus by sticking with the activity or task that is currently our duty. Let’s face it, as men we wear a lot of hats. Over the course of a day, we can be a husband, a father, a friend, a worker, a boss, a leader, a disciple, an athlete, you get the picture. By covering so many bases, oftentimes our minds can get pulled into those other things we’re involved with rather than the task at hand. The thing to do at these times is to catch ourselves and consciously focus our minds back to what we’re doing. It’s the old “be where you are” idea.
According to Jim Fannin, the most successful of people, athletes, businessmen, executives, investors, etc. have a great sense of focus. In his program The 90-Second Rule, he trains his audience on how to develop this focus. One particular aspect of it that was a revelation to me was that these superstars have fewer thoughts than most people, much fewer. The techniques he teaches in his program equip the audience to reduce the number of thoughts they have in order to develop a sharper focus.
To get completely focused on an activity, we should shut everything else out. This isn’t to say that we are unconcerned with our other responsibilities like our families or with our obligation to worship God. It is by diligently and adequately carrying out our life’s duties that we fulfill our family responsibilities and give glory to God. I remember a plaque on the wall of the high school field house that said “What I am is God’s gift to me. What I make of myself is my gift to God.” So, when we’re at work for instance, we close the door on our family life, our hobbies, our Church obligations, etc. and we immerse ourselves completely on the task at hand. If there is an emergency that requires our attention, we will be informed about it. We don’t have to be constantly on the lookout for something possibly going on. We shut everything out and focus on the task at hand.
It’s very much like when we are in Mass, and God wants our complete focus on Him. We shouldn’t be fixing the plumbing problem at home in our minds or getting that project out at the office. While at Mass, it should be our refuge, our sanctuary to leave behind that which is temporal and focus on the eternal. It’s our time to get centered and to remind ourselves of what is the utmost in importance. Once we do this it helps to prioritize and reorder all the other things we have to do. This is why Mass is so important. It helps us to refocus. We can fool ourselves into thinking that we don’t have time or that we can do it ourselves. We think if we can just apply ourselves a bit longer we’ll be able to get so much more ahead. But how often have we done that and wasted our time? How often have we stepped away from the grind and went to Mass to be refreshed and recharged and returned to be a much more efficient and productive worker? We can all get wrapped up in what we’re doing and neglect our responsibilities. That’s not focus; that’s indulgence.
It’s a pretty common view that there is a tremendous underutilization of one of our society’s most powerful resources: men. How often do we hear about men being passive or absent or lazy or disinterested? I have another question: Isn’t this exactly what the feminist movement wants? Of course the knee-jerk reply to that is that all the feminists want is equality. That may have been the case at the onset, but that has been achieved, much to the detriment of our society to the extent it involves removing mothers from the home who have children to raise and care for. Regardless, it has been achieved. Women can and do occupy any and every position men do in our society. So, why haven’t the feminists claimed victory and closed up shop and gone down to the neighborhood bar to have a beer and celebrate like men would? Because they need to perpetuate themselves much like labor unions who had a place at one time in the business sector but are no longer necessary.
I don’t think you’re going to hear much from feminists about men not carrying their weight. The feminists have men right where they want them: being politically correct and silent about women pretty much doing anything they want even if it’s harmful to family and children. Women who are trying to march to their orders are the ones who are complaining. Many of these are good Catholic women doing whatever everyone else is doing not discouraged by their Priests or Church communities yet trying to figure out why their lives aren’t so hunky-dory as the stealthily led feminist organizations promised them they would be. These are the ones who wish the men in their lives, mainly their husbands, are not more engaged and aggressive in their pursuits.
While there is a whole industry of social scientists (who are very well paid to come up with their theories) who are trying to research these phenomena, I would like to state the obvious as to why these men behave in such a passive manner: Because they can. I have observed that men generally will rise to the level that is required and no higher. If we consider when may have been more valiant or virtuous, we may start to wonder what was the difference between the men at that time and men now. Did they have a different bone structure or a better diet or more advanced mental capabilities? Let’s take the men of World War II or any significant military event. How did these men act with such courage? They were required to. How about men of the great depression? They were required to. How about men during the westward expansion? They had to.
Due to the feminist agenda, women can do any job a man can do. So men aren’t required to do any more than they do. They can play games and watch sports and play fantasy sports because their wives take care of the household chores and pay the bills as well. So if any women are wondering why their husbands aren’t more in tune with things or more passionate about anything but football, you may have bought the feminist program and didn’t realize it.
As Fr. Paul Marx noted if we look at all of the great discoveries and inventions throughout history, we will find that men have made them. (I often add my two cents that women then put shrubs around them.) Yet only women have the ability to bring forth the greatest of all creation, another human being. But feminists have indoctrinated women to claim that this is abusive and they shouldn’t be used as “brood mares." So they go out and satisfy a lower calling of working for a paycheck instead, all the while believing they are doing good by serving others “using their God-given abilities.” As GK Chesterton observed they claimed “I will not be dictated to” then went off to become stenographers. The problem is once they reach their 40s and 50s they see that the greatest thing they could have done with their lives has passed them by, and they are no longer interested in this emotionally dramatized career they now have.
I have also observed that when men are required to carry the load in a family while their wives stay home and bear and care for children, they do. A young lady wrote in last week in reaction to our last article saying that she is going to college to have a career not so much because of the possibility of abandonment but “just in case” the man she eventually marries becomes sick or dies. Apparently she wasn’t taught that there is inexpensive insurance for both of those possibilities that responsible young families should have (instead of trips to Disneyworld). Her question shows how effective the feminist movement has been at indoctrination. The undertone there is that the man just can’t handle it. He WILL require help. So it’s often a self-fulfilling concern. The man marries a lady with a good steady income, and he’s set. He can coast. It happens all the time.
But men are capable of so much more when they are required to be. It’s time to wake up this sleeping giant in our culture and get it engaged. There is way too much power on the sidelines not being used. Due to affirmative action and EEOC policies many large corporations require that so many women fill certain positions or that purchases be made from women-owned businesses. What happens when there is a man who is better qualified at filling these needs? He is pushed to the sideline or is left at a lower position and never realizes his potential.
If we wonder why we are not moving forward as a society and as a country and as a participant in the worldwide economy we may want to consider these very facts. We may want to look at the leaders in the worldwide economy to see what their sociological makeup is like. Look at the accomplishments of men throughout history, and look at them today and ask yourself why there is a difference, if you dare.
God bless you+
When we released the article on making the decision of college for daughters that was actually intended for conservative homeschooling Catholic parents (a large portion of our audience), it thankfully got caught up into the mainstream and gave our site quite a bit of traffic. I still stand by the positions taken in the article for the reasons stated therein. I was quite validated when before making the case and points for the positions, I first predicted the type of emotional response, and it came as predicted. Then after listing the common objections and the reasons those objections to not apply, those precise false accusations were hurled all over the internet even though they were spelled out within the document. This just shows the amount of hatred and disdain the opposition has for those who disagree with them and those that do not wish to place their loved ones into their program. The uncontrolled violent vitriol displayed showed signs of absolute evil and intolerance.
At this point, I’d like to comment on the last of the common objections that we normally receive to the recommendation of not sending a daughter to college, and only part of that objection. This would be that parents want to send their daughters to college so that she will be able to support herself in case her husband abandons her, in other words, in case they get divorced. We can see the feminist agenda in the way this is stated as the full blame is placed on the men in all cases saying that she will be abandoned. Are the wives never at fault in a divorce situation? Before going on, another common objection stated to the article was that many of the points also applied to sons, like college being an occasion of sin for them as well. That is very true. So college for all of our children should not be an automatic default in the plan for education as the investment advisers would like you to believe. (Yes they do have a great college fund to go with that.) But the reality is that some occupations that they will be called to will require a degree. It all depends on what they’re called to do. If their prospective occupation doesn’t require it, they also should not go for many of the same reasons as not sending girls. If it does, it becomes a necessary evil that should be carefully undertaken preferably close to home where the parents can still be involved. Again the reasoning here is the traditional roles. The husbands have to provide for the family. The role of a wife and mother does not require college, and college will actually detract from her role. The obvious reason for these roles is stamped in our very anatomies as the wives are the only ones capable of the august dignity of bearing children.
Regardless, with the enormous divorce rate today, most parents feel justified in equipping their daughters “just in case” her marriage doesn’t work out. I would like to quote a Priest with whom I shared this “If she’s hedging her bets by getting a degree, then she shouldn’t marry the guy.” What kind of trust is that of a woman toward her man? Is she giving herself to him completely without reserve? It doesn’t sound like it. It sounds like deep down there is a lack of trust. This is straight out of the feminist playbook. They dictate that men are louses and not to be trusted. Can we see that by a wife hedging in this way she is not giving her heart completely to her husband? If this is the case, how is a husband to view this? Do you think that he can sense her distrust? I would think that he could. What would be the difference in this and him keeping a “little black book” of ladies’ contact information in case his wife runs off with her boss?
We need to stop and ask ourselves if we really have a Christian understanding and belief in marriage in its sense of being totally giving of self, a complete surrender, totally trusting in the spouse, and a commitment of permanence. We need to consider what kind of message we’re sending to our children, especially our daughters, about marriage and the role they are to fill in the married state. Yes, divorce is a big problem, but it’s not simply a single reason of men not being faithful. There are two sides to every conflict. There is a significant possibility of lack of commitment in both directions. If both spouses completely surrender and allow themselves to be vulnerable and become interdependent, a strong bond of permanence is destined to be formed.
God bless you+
I was asked to produce an article about communicating with our kids, talking to them. I can understand how that can be a challenge, especially now having 3 adult children. As children age, there are various obstacles that parents can encounter in trying to keep the lines of communication open. If there has been a good formation of respect for the parents from the children, and they have been trained in obedience then a foundation for good communication will be present. To regress, the basic setup is if the wife has been submissive to the husband, the children will be obedient to the parents and respect them.
Based on my personal experience with raising children, the challenge with communication comes because the nature of children is that they are in a constant state of flux. They are always changing, always growing. The more children you add the more change you’ll experience. So in our case with a household of 9 members, we see a lot of change all the time. As mentioned in a previous article, last decade was the flux of regularly having new babies entering the family. That was its own particular kind of change, but what was pretty stable was they were all still young. As they began to get older other changes and thereby challenges arose. So we as parents have to be on our toes, adjusting and overcoming those challenges.
There are two basic things to keep in mind with communication with our children: (1) They ARE our children, even though they may sometimes seem not to be, and we know them better than anyone else and better than they know themselves. (2) Communication will work with them in much the same way it will work with others we’re trying to connect with.
So when attempting to connect with any other person, how do you do it? Do you go to that person and tell them about yourself and all the things you like to do? I hope not. As one motivator I once heard says “Me-me-me is dull-dull-dull.” Of course we ask them about their interests, their desires, their thoughts. We have to take an interest in our teenage and young adult children. The world is taking an interest in them. Their friends are taking an interest in them. Instead of constant lecturing, we need to transition into communication. This is not to say that any house rules or standards are to change because of age. However the rules obviously will adjust for age for things like bedtimes, etc. The idea is that they are moving toward independence.
A good tact for communication is to ask them questions about themselves. Ask them questions about what they think about certain things. This would go beyond just current events, but more so about day to day living of a person who wants to live the life they are moving toward. It’s very helpful to put ourselves in their place, and it’s also very easy to do so. We’ve actually been their age before; they’ve never been in our position. So we can remember what it was like to be each of their ages. (That’s a pretty creepy thought isn’t it? Remember being that age?) Now you know something of how they feel. But obviously they live in a different world. ASK them about it. Regardless, they have dreams and aspirations that are independent of their lives now with us. This is not to say that we’ll be estranged from them, but they will do things their own way hopefully following similar principles. This is the transition we’re trying to make as they grow. But in our communication with them, we want to make sure that they have understood the principles and the reasons WHY those principles are practiced and that they have a workable knowledge of them.
Also an important part of communication with anyone, but especially our own children at their ages, is that they want to feel accepted. They want to be understood. They need encouragement and affirmation. At a certain point with older children, we need to begin relating to them on an adult level. This can be a difficult transition for a parent. We need to stop being a cop and start being a coach. Sometimes we may just need to take them to lunch to get caught up, especially if they are busy away from home or have moved out on their own.
But the basic idea is to keep talking, and with a consistent message. They will see many variations out in the world, and it is helpful to know that the one they were raised with holds true. As Jim Stenson, educational consultant, says “We are not here to raise kids; we are here to raise adults.” Remaining in contact with them and connected to them is vital as they make the transition.
God bless you+
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+
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+
“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+