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The Family in 2017 – Part 3: The Catholic Solutions to Save the Family


May 24, 2017

Part 3: The Catholic Solutions to Save the Family

It was noted about three months ago after reading Part 1 of this article, “We know what the problems are, what are the solutions?” The statement was quite understandable considering Catholics in general and families in particular are no doubt battle-weary from the war that has now taken place during the course of our lives. The human spirit desires peace (and quiet), but the Kingdom of Satan is the source of division, chaos and revolution.

Parts 1 & 2 of this article described the more notable battles of the 20th and 21st centuries against the family. Contraception, abortion, modesty and Freemasonry are but a few of the issues. There are, indeed, others which plague society and, therefore, the family. Today, pornography and the misuse of household income are the stated main causes of divorce (on the natural level). The destruction of the Catholic Faith and all of the problems associated with it are the real causes of the families near destruction.

This quickly brings us to the essential questions on the family. What must parents do to raise their children as good, true Catholics and how do they avoid the problems of most parents, Catholic or not?

In answering this question, one’s first observation comes in the form of a question. Who among today’s parents is brave and willing enough to do what is necessary to conduct family life as it should be? Putting human frailty aside, parental responsibilities and duties today can be overwhelming if one is not spiritually armed to fight the battles. In addition, who among Catholic parents alone understands all of their duties? Most parents are woefully ignorant of too many of their duties, others simply don’t care.

Who among Catholic parents receives the Sacraments at least on a weekly basis? Are the children properly educated in the Faith from their earliest years? Do parents establish an environment in the home that is becoming of True Roman Catholics, or is there little or no difference from the neighborhood pagans that live all around you? Is there proper discipline in the home? Are there controls on the television, internet, radio and printed media in the home? Are all of the children, both boys and girls, taught to be modest in their conduct and dress? As an extension of the prior question, do parents make it a point of emphasis to teach supernatural virtue to their children? Are parents vigilant concerning the friends of their children?

There are further two basic principles that parents must know and be willing to implement throughout married and family life. The first is they are principally responsible for the eternal salvation of the souls of the family members. Do Catholic spouses consistently help each other with matters of Faith, and, therefore, assist and encourage one another in prayer? Do they openly help each other to become saints?

The second principle is the parents are the first educators of the children. This makes them responsible for the spiritual and academic education of the children. When Catholic parents send their children to school do they realize the teachers are substituting for them? Any assistance from clergy or religious uses the same principle. There have been an unknown number of parents throughout the world through the course of history who have been the sole educators of their children and did an admirable job. Having said this, it should be understood that the Church and society are able to greatly assist the parents.

More recently, the Church has greatly assisted families and parents by providing them with vital papal documents which explain Catholic parental responsibilities. If parents took the time to read them, even though they made need assistance in understanding it, they would have a better understanding of how to conduct themselves.

This first document is from Pope Pius XI’s Encyclical Divini Illius Magistri on Christian Education:

7. It is therefore as important to make no mistake in education, as it is to make no mistake in the pursuit of the last end, with which the whole work of education is intimately and necessarily connected. In fact, since education consists essentially in preparing man for what he must be and for what he must do here below, in order to attain the sublime end for which he was created, it is clear that there can be no true education which is not wholly directed to man’s last end, and that in the present order of Providence, since God has revealed Himself to us in the Person of His Only Begotten Son, who alone is “the way, the truth and the life,” there can be no ideally perfect education which is not Christian education.

8. From this we see the supreme importance of Christian education, not merely for each individual, but for families and for the whole of human society, whose perfection comes from the perfection of the elements that compose it. From these same principles, the excellence, we may well call it the unsurpassed excellence, of the work of Christian education becomes manifest and clear; for after all it aims at securing the Supreme Good, that is, God, for the souls of those who are being educated, and the maximum of well-being possible here below for human society. And this it does as efficaciously as man is capable of doing it, namely by cooperating with God in the perfecting of individuals and of society, in as much as education makes upon the soul the first, the most powerful and lasting impression for life according to the well-known saying of the Wise Man, “A young man according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.”[4] With good reason therefore did St. John Chrysostom say, “What greater work is there than training the mind and forming the habits of the young?”[5]

9. But nothing discloses to us the supernatural beauty and excellence of the work of Christian education better than the sublime expression of love of our Blessed Lord, identifying Himself with children, “Whosoever shall receive one such child as this in my name, receiveth me.”[6]

10. Now in order that no mistake be made in this work of utmost importance, and in order to conduct it in the best manner possible with the help of God’s grace, it is necessary to have a clear and definite idea of Christian education in its essential aspects, viz., who has the mission to educate, who are the subjects to be educated, what are the necessary accompanying circumstances, what is the end and object proper to Christian education according to God’s established order in the economy of His Divine Providence.

11. Education is essentially a social and not a mere individual activity. Now there are three necessary societies, distinct from one another and yet harmoniously combined by God, into which man is born: two, namely the family and civil society, belong to the natural order; the third, the Church, to the supernatural order.

12. In the first place comes the family, instituted directly by God for its peculiar purpose, the generation and formation of offspring; for this reason it has priority of nature and therefore of rights over civil society. Nevertheless, the family is an imperfect society, since it has not in itself all the means for its own complete development; whereas civil society is a perfect society, having in itself all the means for its peculiar end, which is the temporal well-being of the community; and so, in this respect, that is, in view of the common good, it has pre-eminence over the family, which finds its own suitable temporal perfection precisely in civil society.

13. The third society, into which man is born when through Baptism he reaches the divine life of grace, is the Church; a society of the supernatural order and of universal extent; a perfect society, because it has in itself all the means required for its own end, which is the eternal salvation of mankind; hence it is supreme in its own domain.

14. Consequently, education which is concerned with man as a whole, individually and socially, in the order of nature and in the order of grace, necessarily belongs to all these three societies, in due proportion, corresponding, according to the disposition of Divine Providence, to the co-ordination of their respecting ends.

Pope Pius XII spoke to a gathering of women of Catholic Action and their helpers from all the dioceses of Italy on the feast of Christ the King, October 26, 1941. In this allocution he spoke directly to Mothers, instructing them in detail of how they must properly raise their children. The following is a short portion of this document:


It is a curious circumstance and, as Pope Pius XI remarked in his Encyclical, a lamentable one, that whereas no one would dream of suddenly becoming a mechanic or an engineer, a doctor or a lawyer, without any apprenticeship or preparation, yet every day there are numbers of young men and women who marry without having given an instant’s thought to preparing themselves for the arduous work of educating their children which awaits them. And yet, if St Gregory the Great could speak of the government of souls as ‘the art of arts’, surely no art is more difficult and strenuous than that of fashioning the souls of children, for those souls are so very tender, so easily disfigured through some thoughtless influence or wrong advice, so difficult to guide aright and so lightly led astray, more susceptible than wax to receive a disastrous and indelible impression through malignant influences or culpable neglect. Fortunate the child whose mother stands by its cradle like a guardian angel to inspire and lead it in the path of goodness! And so while We congratulate you upon what you have already achieved, We cannot but exhort you warmly and anew to develop those splendid organisations which are doing so much to provide for every rank and social class educators conscious of their high mission, in mind and bearing alert against evil and zealous to promote good. Such sentiments in a woman and a mother give her the right to that reverence and dignity which belong to a man’s loyal helpmate; such a mother is like a pillar, for she is the central support of the home; she is like a beacon whose light gives an example to the parish and brings illumination to the pious associations of which she is a member.

The above are two examples of Church documents and other materials which are still available today (2017). Married couples and those preparing for marriage should take the time to begin to read these instructional and inspiring works.

This takes us back to the original question of Part 3. What are some solutions to the problems parents face today? Practicing the Catholic Faith as it was meant to be lived by married is the first and most important solution. This again is a combination of the spiritual (prayer and Sacramental life) and academic (learning what the Church teaches) responsibilities of the Catholic. This involves the above suggestions to read those materials which are available. There are numerous moral issues involving the family today that parents should be especially vigilant in understanding the position of the Church.

Practically speaking, parents must make the time and have a strong, determined will to pray, study and implement the correct decisions they make for their families. Although today’s world is like the burglar who is attempting to illegally enter your home and steal something of value, the parents must be ever so watchful and stop these dangerous intrusions at the door.

If parents instructed their children in virtue at a young age and guided their young minds as they should, so much grief would be avoided as they grow into Catholic adults. Do not allow complacency to govern the home. Understand the vocation you are called to by God. Answer this call willingly, bravely and with great joy.

Fr. Joseph Noonan, OFM