73 God has revealed himself fully by sending his own Son, in whom he has established his covenant for ever. the Son is his Father’s definitive Word; so there will be no further Revelation after him.
“For greater things you were born.” (Ven. Mother Luisita)
FRIDAY, AUGUST 14TH Mt. 19:3-12 Jesus said to the Pharisees, “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator made them male and female and said, For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, man must not separate.”
- The Pharisees were testing Jesus about the nature and permanence of marriage. Today, Jesus through His holy Church is still being tested about the nature and permanence of marriage. As faithful Catholics, we need to be clear on the Church’s teaching on marriage and be ready to defend it.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church #1603. “The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life.”89
- Catechism of the Catholic Church #1604. “For man is created in the image and likeness of God who is himself love.90 Since God created him man and woman, their mutual love becomes an image of the absolute and unfailing love with which God loves man. It is good, very good, in the Creator’s eyes, and this love which God blesses is intended to be fruitful and to be realized in the common work of watching over creation: “and God blessed them, and God said to them: ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'”91
- How blessed we are to know the sacred purpose of marriage in the Divine Plan and Will of God as recorded in Sacred Scripture and preserved in the teachings of His Holy Church! Therefore, we have a responsibility to defend the Sacrament of Matrimony, to help support and strengthen marriages, and to resist society’s attempts to legislate it out of existence!
- Today, let us pray for all married couples that they will be faithful to their vows and rejoice in God’s unitive and procreative purpose of marriage for their salvation and sanctification and that of their children, as well as the society at large! History has shown that when marriage and family life as defined by God fails, the society fails!
- Let us pray for engaged couples that they will receive the Sacrament of Matrimony properly disposed, with hearts set on the permanence, fecundity, and holiness of their vocation.
- Let us pray that young people will keep their minds and hearts open to whatever vocation God may call them to, and choose chastity as the necessary preparation for every vocation!
The necessary corollary to the Sacred Purpose of Marriage in the Divine Plan and Will of God is the necessity and responsibility of good parenting!
PARENTS: THE FIRST AND MOST IMPORTANT TEACHERS by Fr. Ed Broom, OMV
When a couple celebrates the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the Church they promise to each other, to the priest who presides over the Sacrament, to the Community present at the marriage, and most important to God, who witnesses and knows all things, that they will be open to having children and to raising them in the fear and love of the Lord and His Commandments.
BAPTISM. When the child is baptized once again both godparents and especially the parents make a firm commitment to raise the child to know and love God in the Church. In the Sacrament of Baptism, the seed is planted in the soul of the child; then it is the imperious and serious obligation of the parents to bring that seed to fruition. That means in concrete that the parents must water, weed, cultivate that seed of faith so that it grows, blossoms and flourishes to the fullest extent possible. Another way of expressing this truth is that the parents are responsible for the eternal salvation of their child. On the realm and hierarchy of importance, there is nothing more sublime and important in life than to live in grace, grow in grace, persevere in grace, and die in the state of grace. As the great Moral-theologian and Doctor of the Church, Saint Alphonsus asserts: “The grace of all graces is to die in the state of grace.” It is the imperious obligation incumbent on all parents to strive for this end for themselves, as well as for their children—to get to heaven!
CHURCH DOCUMENTS AND COMMON TEACHING. The Dogmatic Constitution from the Vatican II teachings Gaudium et Spes #52 (behind which was Karol Woytyla—the future Pope Saint John Paul II) insists on the importance of the parents as the first educators of their children in the faith. Furthermore, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, when commenting on the 4th Commandment, Honor your father and mother, reiterates this same teaching—parents must be the teachers of their children, especially with regard to faith and morals. “The fecundity of conjugal love cannot be reduced solely to the procreation of children, but must extend to their moral education and their spiritual formation. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute. The right and duty of parents to educate their children are primordial and inalienable.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #2221)
Therefore, in our brief essay we would like to highlight and accentuate practical points that parents can take to live out and to implement their obligation to be the light for their children, so that parents can be a solid bridge or ladder by which their children can cross from this world to eternal life in heaven!
1. SACRAMENT OF HOLY MATRIMONY. Sad to say, from the very outset, couples must be reminded and encouraged to avoid cohabitation, living together, what is sometimes termed trial-marriage, all of these living conditions in the eyes of God are sinful and harmful for the couple, for the children, towards the Church—the Mystical Body of Christ that is wounded, and towards the world at large. The common sense saying rings so true: “You cannot give what you do not have.” The couple living outside the state of grace will not be able to transmit and communicate efficiently and effectively the grace of God to their children. It is a very sad reality that many couples, and I say many couples, have trial-unions, sometimes for many years. What a loss of graces for the parents and their children! Whereas, Holy Matrimony blesses them and their children with many graces and sanctifies the Church, as well as giving good example!
2. LIVING A SACRAMENTAL LIFE. Then once the couple has been married sacramentally in the Church, they must make a real concerted effort to receive these Sacraments frequently, fervently, and faithfully— the Sacraments of Confession and the most Holy Eucharist. Jesus said: “I am the vine and you are the branches; you are called to bring forth fruit and fruit in abundance.” (Jn. 15:5). The worthy reception of the Sacraments redounds to the blessing of the children. If you like, it is like a downpour of dew, sun, and pure wind upon the saplings in the field of their harvest—their children!
3. THE LIFE-LONG PROCESS OF PERMANENT FORMATION. It is truly incumbent upon parents, as well as all Catholic-Christians for that matter, to take very seriously what might be termed Permanent Formation. It is interesting to note that in almost all professional fields—Doctors, Lawyers, Teachers and Professors, Architects and even Professional athletes—all must be in a perpetual process of formation. That pans out in participating in talks, seminars, weekend conferences, constant studies through reading. In other words, if the professional is not up to date in his field, he can be dismissed due to negligence. A Doctor-Surgeon who fails in an operation can not only injure the patient but be subject to expensive law-suits and lose huge sums of money. This being the case, should not parents and adults in the faith be so to speak Professional Catholics??? Would any well-educated adult be content to stagnate at a juvenile, elementary school level in the Faith? The law of growth applies to all—professionals, athletes, as well as Parents with respect to their growth in faith.
4. WHAT THEN SHOULD I BE STUDYING, LEARNING, TO ROUND OUT MY PEREMANT FORMATION??? The above is a very important question, but not easy to respond to given the many demands of the modern and complicated life-style that we are immersed in! We have never lived in a society with so much information and actually good literature. However, at the same time, we have never lived in a society with so much mass-confusion!!!
5. WHAT THEN? HOW CAN I DISCERN? The response to these two questions follows from classical Christian-Catholic Theology and Pastoral Formation. And it is this: SPIRITUAL DIRECTION. Baseball players need coaches; entrepreneurs in business need mentors; teachers, principals need guides. Even more important in our pursuit for holiness and salvation do we have a dire need for a capable and competent Spiritual Director. This being said, in the context of spiritual direction, as a parent you should explain the context of your vocation of Holy Matrimony, your work, your children and milieu, and through discernment the Spiritual Director will shed light on your need and the process by which you can arrive at the process of permanent formation. Jesus said it; “Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into a pit? (Lk. 6:39) Competent Spiritual Direction illuminates the pathway to God and salvation! Take advantage of it!
6. ACTIONS ARE POWERFUL MOTIVATIONAL TOOLS: LOVE BETWEEN THE COUPLE. It must be said with the utmost clarity that the parents will be superb educators when their relationship with God is growing by leaps and bounds. However, it must be that the love the couple has for God flows over like an abundant river into the mutual love that they promised towards each other on their wedding day! Put bluntly, if children are to be educated in the faith, they must be instructed to know and love God, but also they must see the love of God reflected in the way their Mother and Father truly love each other! If the children hear a lot of God-language from their parents but this is coupled with harsh words, cruel and prolonged silences, a constant anger, sarcasm and bitterness between their parents, then the seed of the Word falls on thorns and will quickly be choked out.
7. COME APART FOR A WHILE AND REST WITH ME!!! If parents truly want to be good teachers to their children, then they must heed the words of Jesus to the Apostles and to us: “Come apart and rest for a while…” (Mk. 6:31) As it was, the Apostles were being overwhelmed with work and demands such that they barely had even enough time to eat. Consequently, Jesus told them to pull back and rest with Him for a while, and then back into the battle-ground. Ideally speaking, on an annual basis parents should pull out from the hustle and bustle of the rat-race and find some time for a Spiritual Retreat. If not there is the danger of burn out! In order to recharge the spiritual batteries, it is necessary to have time alone with the Lord, at least a weekend Retreat. In the middle of November 2018, I went off with 123 adults to a Retreat house Friday night, Saturday, and half of Sunday to give them a wonderful weekend Retreat. The graces were many and the adults were able to recharge their spiritual batteries with talks, silent meditations, spiritual reading, quiet and reflective walks, and most important—Confession and Holy Mass and Holy Communion. Jesus Himself would separate from the multitude to spend deep and quality time in communion with His Heavenly Father.
8. SUNDAY: THE DAY OF THE LORD AND FAMILY DAY. Saint Pope John Paul II penned an all-important short but substantial document, Apostolic Letter Dies Domine —the Day of the Lord (May 31, 1998). The essence of this document is that the modern world is losing the sense of the sacred character of Sunday. In other words, Sunday is becoming like an extension of Saturday: shopping, cleaning, working, eating, enjoying with the end result of forgetting to keep holy the Sabbath and even omitting attendance and participation in Holy Mass—which must be the very heart of Sunday—the Day of the Lord, the Lord’s Day! In addition to being the Lord’s Day with fervent assistance and participation in Holy Mass, Sunday should be Family Day. This is the message of Saint Pope John Paul II. The primary institution in society, the primary building block and basic cell, the domestic church—the family—is under violent attack and in danger of being ripped and rent asunder. An excellent way to carry out and implement the correct formation of children and teens is for them to enjoy Sunday with their parents. Mass, followed by a substantial brunch, then fun time in the park with some physical activity: walking, or biking, or hiking, or if you like, sports. Then rest at the picnic table in the park for some wholesome family sharing—no phones or electronic devices. Let all of the members in the family share what is on his/her mind and the others engage in attentive and charitable listening. Indeed, it must be said that communication is at an all-time low between parents and children, especially with the teens. May Sunday after Mass, be the time to really connect and communicate with your kids! Now is the time, do not say TOMORROW! By the way, tomorrow never comes; it is beyond our grasp and may never arrive at all! We only have today!
9. PARISH ONGOING FORMATION GROUPS. Check out your Parish and the groups that you, your spouse and your children can become involved in. Ongoing catechesis, Bible groups, Marian Consecration programs, Spiritual Exercises opportunities, Youth groups and activities, the Legion of Mary—all of the above, and other groups can serve as a catalyst to motivate parents and their family to get to know, love, and serve the Lord with greater vigor and enthusiasm!
10. LIKE MARY, BE MISSIONARIES! After the Blessed Virgin Mary conceived Jesus through the Holy Spirit, she went in haste to visit her cousin Saint Elizabeth. The joy of the Good News welled up in the Immaculate Heart of Mary and she could not contain it. The Holy Spirit moved and motivated Mary to bring Jesus to others. May Mary, whom Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta called, “The first Missionary of Charity”, be an example for parents and their children! Indeed, one of the most efficacious ways that one can grow in one’s faith is to share it with others. Saint Thomas Aquinas points out that when we share on a material plane we become impoverished. On the contrary, when we learn the art of giving and sharing our faith with others, the more we give spiritually, the more God, the Author of all good gifts, fills us with His riches and grace. Mormons, Jehovah Witnesses, born-again Christians—we meet them all over the town, in every place with their fervent message. As Catholics, we should be even more fervent in our desire in our natural family and as part of the Catholic Church, which is the family of God, to share the Good News, the Gospel, to the whole world. The last words of Jesus in the Gospel of Matthew were: “Go out to the whole world and teach what I taught you; baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And behold I will be with you even until the end of time.” (Mt 28:19-20)
In conclusion it is our most ardent desire and hope that parents will take very seriously their obligation to work on their own personal permanent formation so that they can be sure guides for their children on the highway to heaven. May Our Lady who is the Stella Maris, Star of the Sea, guide as safely to the port of salvation!
Copyright 2020 Oblates of the Virgin Mary
St. Peter Chanel Church, Hawaiian Gardens, CA