Archive for July, 2010

Train Them Up

Back in the year 2000, I read a book that was circulating among the families in the homeschool academy which we are members of. At the time, my son was nearing his fifth birthday. This boy was becoming increasingly difficult to control and frustration was taking hold of both my wife and I. The book makes the very profound point that it is a huge mistake and one made by the vast majority of parents to wait for misbehavior in a child and then take appropriate disciplinary action. The proven method is stated in the Book of Proverbs: “TRAIN up a child in the way he should go and he will not depart from it” Training children is not a reactionary activity but an anticipatory one – we take certain steps and create certain situations and use those instances to bring about a desired, habitual response in the child.
This concept was an eye-opener for my wife and I. I implemented the strategies in the book and the results were very apparent and much appreciated in a matter of a few days. I could sit in a chair and call my son to me and he would literally run to me and say “yes sir” upon arriving where I was seated. A few days before, I had to physically restrain him while my wife dressed him for church. I know that many good people will read this description of an out of control child and shake their heads in agreement. I am here to tell anyone who reads this post that it does not have to be that way. In fact, the out of control child terrorizing his parents is not normal and it is a sign that something is desperately wrong. But like most of the insanity that surrounds us today, it has come to be accepted that raising children is a battle zone with stress and fighting and nerve medicine for everyone involved. A fascinating, undeniable fact: children who are trained and guided in correct behavior by parents whose interest in them far surpasses any of the other frivolous activities we moderns involve ourselves in instinctively know in their heart and soul that their parents love them and want them to mature into the amazing person God created them to be. The opposite is also sadly true and undeniable. Untrained children whose parents can’t be bothered to train and teach them know in their young hearts that they are not at the top of Mom and Dad’s priority list – they sense that they are drifting and alone, rudderless in a society that will do them great harm. So, we have thousands of young souls ingesting drugs prescribed by physicians and approved of by their parents – drugs to help them cope with the grinding anxiety and uneasiness they feel every day. The tension is palpable and it is unnecessary – it is not accidental or just something to be accepted in our hectic society. It is the result, the consequence of actions, or inaction, of parents who have never been exposed to biblical methods of training and raising children. This theme will be developed more in future posts, but something to think about until then:
The Amish community in the area where the author of this book lives travel exclusively by horse-drawn buggies on very narrow country highways and 2-lane roads. Also traveling on these roads are fast moving 18 wheelers and other large commercial vehicles. The horses pulling these buggies must be very strictly trained to remain rigidly in the lane of the road in which the buggie is traveling as one of these large trucks approaches – a couple inches out of line and disaster could easily result. Granted, our kids are not animals pulling buggies, but they are innocent, unknowing young people who could easily encounter disaster in our increasingly barbaric society – unless they are trained in the way they should go.
Book information: To Train Up a Child – visit Nogreaterjoy.org
God Bless.

To Know, To Love, To Serve

I watched a video of a 1992 presentation on serving God last night. The speaker demonstrated a keen and deep insight into human nature. He began by asking the audience to name the one thing more important than all of the other issues we poor sinners contend with. The answers quickly came: salvation of our souls, peace of heart, financial security, getting our children to heaven, etc…It was agreed that the salvation of our souls was at the top of the list. The speaker then asked if the children of those present would say, after living with mom and dad for many years, that the importance of the salvation of their souls and those around them was indeed reflected in the way they
actually lived their life. Would the children indeed say “my parents live their lives to know, love and serve God”? There was an uneasy silence and nervous laughter as the audience realized that the vast majority of good christian people do not live with God as their primary focus. What is the resulting consequence of this dichotomy in our lives? One result may be that our kids reach the age of understanding and discernment and then plainly see this inconsistency in their parents’ lives and then reject the faith as being something not authentic or even phony. Jesus Himself said to let your
yes be yes and your no be no – anything else is from the evil one. In other words, make sure our words and thoughts and actions are in agreement – this is the definition of integrity. We must be people of integrity or we will live hollow, unfulfilled lives and we may confuse and alienate our children and those God places in our path. Why are we prone to this inconsistency?
Because we are like the water running downstream with a large boulder in the path – we take the path of least resistance, thinking that we will be happier and more at peace. Tragically, the opposite is true. The saints took the more difficult, less popular route of speaking and living honest lives of integrity – they suffered in the temporal order but rejoiced in the spiritual.
The particular way that we are all called to know, love and serve God must be sought after – in prayer, the sacraments and consulting with wise, successful people who are indeed honest & dignified – people of integrity. The man who made this talk spends the vast majority of his time serving God – counseling people, distributing good Catholic material via pamphlets and the internet and involving himself in the problems of people from whom he gains absolutely nothing – except the joy and satisfaction of changing people’s lives and watching them find success and happiness. We all need to find the way God intends us to serve and become a true disciple, a follower that He can depend on. God Bless.

Lunch With An Old Friend

It’s always good to re-connect with old friends. I had that oppurtunity recently. The gentleman I met with is a man I was very close to 20 years
ago – we lost touch as we both married and began having children. I knew going into this meeting that my friend’s marriage is in a very precarious state. They are both extremely unhappy and chaos rules their lives – it is very sad and so unnecessary. What is very distressing to me is that this situation is very common in our society and it is almost accepted as the norm – “marriage is tough with a lot of suffering.” Equally distressing is the fact that solutions and answers seem to be nonexistent and those in positions to help and offer counsel refuse to get involved or don’t know how to even approach the problem. The elephant in the living room is the fact that the one thing that will, without a doubt, remedy this problem is simple to find, readily available and ordained and sanctioned by Almighty God Himself. It is this: the traditional order of family life as given to us in the Sacred Scriptures and the Magisterial teachings of the Catholic Church. Sadly,tragically, it is the last place that most of our clergy and laity who are in positions of authority will look for the answer. Our modern sensibilities tell us that these teachings are outdated, old-fashioned and they simply don’t apply. Woe to us in our blindness and foolishness. We have fallen into a pit and refuse to lift ourselves out.
I told my friend that he and his wife are living in a way contrary to what leads to success – they have everything turned on its head. He looked at me
with bewilderment and confusion. I added that it is very difficult to succeed even with God at the center of our marriages – it requires virtue – but it is impossible without God in the center. It is a form of marital suicide to ignore what Christ’s Church teaches on how to live our lives.
I offered to my friend a ray of hope, I hope. His wife’s best friend is equally
unhappy and bitter in her marriage – they speak very frequently on the phone and in person. I asked my friend who was the head of his house and the house of his wife’s friend – he said in both cases that the ladies in both cases were in control and running the show. I asked the simple question “is it working? are you all happy?” He did not hesitate and answered “no” I pointed out the inescapable correlation: when Daddy doesn’t lead and Momma usurps his God given authority, the lights go out and darkness falls.
A friend once told me that when our wives grab hold of the reins in the home, it is like she has grabbed a live wire – it is killing her but she can’t let go.
To be fair and completely up front and honest – let us state that it is very understandable that women feel the need to take control – with the way that most men conduct themselves today, a state of extreme anxiety and worry very often overtakes a woman’s mind and heart. So, the problem is indeed twofold – poor leadership and the natural tendency of Mom to fix things and make them right.
Back to the ray of hope I offered my friend – considering the influences in his wife’s day to day living, I suggested he expose her to women who live according to what the Church teaches and consequently enjoy peace and happiness – let her see and feel the radiance of the result of being in the state of grace and in the will of God. Maybe that will touch her heart and mind and start a new way of thinking. He agreed and we will meet for supper soon. I’ll share the results of that supper next time. God Bless.

Conversation With A Dad

I had a long, serious conversation with one of the Dads who volunteers at the TFP summer camp. He related to me that many of the boys who attend the camp begin as soft and lacking in certain masculine characteristics, but leave the camp transformed into bold, enthusiastic young men. He related to me that after eight years of working at the camp, that he can spot the boys whose Dads are not connecting with their sons, the ones whose Dads have not successfully conveyed to their boys their interest in and concern for them. This, to me, is a microcosm of the larger problem we face as a Church and society. Our men have been emasculated and somewhat neutered in an atmosphere of oppressive feminism and liberalism.
I believe Jesus Christ was a very masculine man – I believe He personified a chivalrous, dynamic leader who was entirely animated by agape love – sacrificial love which drives a soul to empty themself for the good of the
souls around them. He was a warrior armed with the Spirit of God and the love of the Father in Heaven. He needs the men of today to cast aside all attachments and distractions and have the guts to tread the path He blazed ahead of us.
It is distressing to see young men full of potential wandering the streets with their friends during the summer months. No direction, no goals, no interest in the great adventure of being a Christian man serving the King.
Boys without training and direction will inevitably get lost on a path that leads far away from the destination God has planned for them. It is a long, painful road back to sane living.
This man with whom I was speaking at the camp told me of another gentleman whose son recently rebelled and rejected the philosophy his parents live by – a philosophy they attempted to train their son to understand and embrace. These good folks are grieving today as they watch their son drift away. Their son will undoubtedly return at some time, but after much suffering and grief. I asked this man what caused the trouble with this young man – his answer was sobering – the boy’s Dad did not know how to connect with his boy – he spoke to him like a college professor speaks to a class. Predictably, the man’s instruction fell on deaf ears and the boy bolted when he was old enough to see and understand – and, when the world started tugging at his heart. My prayer is this: that the hearts of all Dads will turn to the hearts of their wives and children.
God Bless.

Tradition Family Property

The ninth annual Call to Chivalry Camp held by the Tradition, Family & Property organization concluded yesterday with the usual vigor, enthusiasm

and missionary zeal that this Catholic group espouses and promotes. It is exciting to see young, clean cut  men convicted in their Catholic faith

to the extent of total devotion of their entire lives to serving the King and defending His Church. I am impressed to the point of amazement at these men – they

are enthusiastic, good-natured, pious, masculine and dignified in their behavior, speech and dress. They are gentlemen and they are happy. I just described what all

Catholic men should aspire to be. Some of these men travel continuously from place to place and at every destination serve Our Lord and His Church tirelessly and without

ego or self interest. Webster’s defines chivalry as a man who is gallant and a distinguished gentleman and another definition describes “mounted men at arms.”

I hope we all realize that we are at war on many fronts and without chivalrous men, we could lose much. During last night’s closing ceremony, the leader of the TFP in my

home state said in his closing remarks that mediocre souls will not change this society – it requires heroic, brave, chivalrous men willing to sacrifice it all for the cause.

I asked one of the leaders who staffed this camp if he intended to do this the rest of his life – he looked at me and said “Sir, this is a vocation – I am called to do this”

Consequently, this young man is obviously full of joy. One last thing on the TFP – some of the young men who ran this camp drove 14 hours from Pennsylvania the night

before the camp started and then will be leaving a couple of days from now for the next event – and it goes on and on………

The concept of Chivalry in men young and old is a lost idea and something that badly needs to be resurrected in the Church and our society. The enemy tries to use fear

to stop his opponents – us – from taking up arms against him. Our response cannot be timid and hesitant – the attack is full frontal assault and we had better be aware

and ready to tough it out. These are not just words – the casualties are all around us – let’s not become one of them – our spouses and our children deserve better. The image of

the crusader on his horse ready for war is a very accurate description of what makes the enemy run. May we all be faithful and ready soldiers for the Lord, His Church and

Our Lady. God Bless.