Our guide to Christian life



 “There are not one hundred people in the United States who hate the Catholic Church, but there are millions who hate what they wrongly perceive the Catholic Church to be” (Ven. Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen).

A former student, a single mother, was recently explaining to me how she desires to raise her 8-year-old son to be a responsible, respectful person. She shared an incident about him spending his birthday money on a frivolous choice that quickly rendered him upset. She had previously attempted to discourage that selection, but to no avail.

Later, when he realized that she did not plan to offer more money to remedy the situation, he threw a tantrum. Calmly and firmly, she explained that, while she sympathized with his feelings, it was inappropriate to blame her or expect her to fix it.

She said, “It wasn’t easy to see him unhappy, but I knew it would pass; and it was a lesson he needed to learn. Maybe this consequence will help him be more thoughtful in future decisions.” I commended her response and assured her that she actually did him a favor.

I said, “It will continue to be difficult at times, but the more we allow our children to experience the consequences of their actions, the easier life will be not only for us, but also for our children.”

For the past year, our Christ Renews His Parish group has been meeting and discussing the Catechism in a Year led by Father Michael Schmitz. An amazing journey, it has increased my understanding of the laws of the Church and the rationales for them. It has been a blessed experience.

Coincidentally, as this woman was sharing her story, we were studying the fourth commandment: Honor your father and your mother. I was surprised to learn that this commandment carries over to all authority, whether it be a boss; a civic leader; a policeman; or even the President. The word honor means to respect the authority of the position that this person holds in society unless “they are contrary to the demands of the moral code” (CCC 2242).

The section, “The duties of parents,” is invaluable and should be a part of the curriculum for those considering marriage – and repeated as part of the Baptismal preparation. If we truly adhered to the teachings presented, our world would be a more peaceful, safer, and loving place.

Unfortunately, our society has villainized two operative words: obedience and discipline. Yet, those attributes are exactly what are lacking in our families, our society and our world; and, as a result, we adults and our children are living in much chaos and despair.

Discipline grounded in love is oriented toward the success of the child. In a different podcast, Father Mike shared a quote from a friend, a child psychologist, who said, “Never let your kids do anything that makes you dislike them.” The psychologist went on to say that it is the parents’ job to help their children engage in the word successfully.

The Catechism offers a perfect framework for accomplishing that goal. It begins by stating that the duties of a parent “must extend to their (children’s) moral education and spiritual formation” (CCC 2221). To aid in this development, “Parents must regard children as children of God and respect them as human persons” (CCC 2022). This directive entails “creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity and (freely given) service are the rule.” The paragraph goes on to state, “Parents have a grave responsibility to give good examples to their children,” and, finally, to acknowledge their own failings (CCC 2223).

The current Catechism is a wealth of information on every topic pertaining to life. In 1986, six years of intense work began by a body of 12 Cardinals and Bishops, with extensive consultation among all leaders of the faith. Upon its completion in October 1992, Pope John Paul II said, “I judge (the Catechism) to be a sure norm for teaching the faith.” As Catholics, it is now our moral obligation to understand and live the tenets of our faith.