Daily Archives:April 11th, 2018

Seven spiritual mistakes of ‘good Catholic parents’

A few weeks ago I wrote that the greater part of what is wrong with young people today is parents(see A Church of kids: Will the Synod on Youth get it backwards?). I also touched briefly on some key elements of sound Catholic parenting, particularly in education. But it would be wrong to give the impression that I know how to raise your children.

Prayerful, engaged parents understand their children better than anybody else does, except God. Moreover, each child is different. With children, while parents must be fair, one size does not fit all, and it never will. Neither the State nor the day care system nor the schools (nor even yours truly) can raise your children nearly as well as you can—if only you will avoid the very first spiritual mistake listed below. But check yourself against the other six mistakes as well. My purpose here is to help you avoid what I see as the seven biggest spiritual pitfalls for those who try hard to be good Catholic parents.

1. Failure to pray: The very first principle of good parenting is that parents are flawed creatures who, even with the best of intentions, make significant and even serious mistakes. Yet you would be amazed at how many Catholics do not recognize the inescapable corollary: Parents must pray daily both for their children and for themselves: To understand their children rightly, to raise them well, and to secure Divine protection. You and your children have guardian angels, too, so call them to account! The point is that grace is available for parents as parents and for children as children. Fostering the reception of grace in your whole family must be even more constant than your natural human love.

2. Over-engagement: Call it an emphasis on doing over being, or a lopsided preference for the active over the contemplative life: We live in a hyperactive and hyper-distracted culture. One symptom of this is constant overwork in our paying jobs, but it can also manifest itself in chronic over-engagement. For “good Catholics”, this often includes justifying too much time taken from family life for apostolic work. But even apostolate does not trump vocation. Over-engagement communicates to children that the culture of the family must take second or third or fourth place. A lack of presence of parents to their children, when it is not absolutely demanded by the survival of the family itself, teaches that the loving formation of children is not the high priority parents claim it to be.

3. Transcendental restriction: Consider the three transcendentals—truth, goodness, and beauty. Interest in and attraction to these transcendentals mark three different paths to God, and each person is more attuned to one of these paths than the others. In many counter-cultural Catholic families today, parents find themselves in conflict with a world which rejects nearly every specific teaching of the Church. In consequence, it is not uncommon for them to emphasize doctrine, doctrine and more doctrine. But these same parents are likely to have children who (whether generally or at certain stages) are far more attracted to saints than to catechists, or far more attracted to the beauty of God as manifested in nature and art than in the mastery of moral principles. Parental attention and approval must recognize and encourage all of the transcendentals, that is, all of these ways to God.

4. Spiritual smothering: When I was growing up, I knew neighborhood kids with over-protective parents who would never permit anything that involved even the slightest risk. The same problem can occur spiritually, especially in the midst of a culture hostile to faith and morals. But children who are too isolated from the larger culture, with all its benefits and all its dangers, can be easily overwhelmed when finally released into the world. Kids are not best served by what we might call the formation of theoretical virtues in the complete absence of temptation. Just as children need physical exercise, they need moral exercise. This requires judicious exposure to the life they will one day be called to live as mature Christians in the world. The same applies to a form of spiritual smothering which prevents children from awakening to all the gifts of God which manifest themselves outside the realm of specifically “Catholic” and “spiritual” activities.

5. Hypercriticism: It is hard to remain upbeat when living in a culture hostile to nearly everything we believe, and in a Church which too closely mirrors that culture. The Devil launches a gigantic wave of temptations against serious Catholics to be annoyed by every failing and to comment instantly on what is wrong (including in our kids). One of my adult children mentioned that he was so used to hearing me criticize bishops that it took him a long time to enter into a proper relationship with the Catholic hierarchy. (Happily, I have another adult child who remembers that, after Mass one day, when the kids were commenting negatively on how the liturgy had been done, I pointed out that not one of us is worthy of even the most poorly said Mass.) Parents who constantly criticize everything, including their children and their children’s friends, cannot be surprised if their children run for cover as adults.

6. Confusion between tradition and Tradition: Readers of CatholicCulture.org tend to accept everything the Church teaches and try to live accordingly. While many of their neighbors confuse cultural platitudes with the Faith, our readers are more likely to confuse Catholic traditions with Catholic Tradition. For example, the Assumption of Mary into Heaven is part of Tradition (and therefore revealed), but the use of the Extraordinary Form of the Roman Rite is not. The unique particulars of this rite and even the use of Latin itself are simply human Catholic traditions. This does not mean it is wrong to have a preference for them—only that they are preferences. Parents who treat any human traditions as if they are Tradition run the risk of alienating their children from the Church when they realize that something inculcated as a matter of Faith is not Divinely ordained.

7. Emotional piety: The cases encompassed by item 6 are often occasioned by unrecognized emotional attachments. Just as our approach to the Faith can be too narrowly focused on behaviors or doctrines as if they exhaust the Divine mystery (see item 3), so too can our piety be too rooted in human emotion. While this can affect us in all kinds of ways, a classic example is found in the charismatic experience, which tends to be emotionally stimulating, and can lead to a confusion between feelings and the action of the Holy Spirit. Parents run a risk when the experience of the Faith they offer their children is predominately emotional. Unlike reverence and the principles of faith and morals, emotions cannot be inculcated. No matter what the context, if emotions are at the core of religious commitment, children who do not experience these emotions will drift away as they mature.

This list will do little good for the majority of those who claim the Catholic name. Better indeed that they should fall into a few of these excesses than continue to be lukewarm, proud of being in step with the larger culture, refusing to make the sacrifices to give their children a truly Catholic education, and failing to recognize that Catholicism must effect that revolution in all their affections which we call conversion. Such parents may well see these pitfalls as warnings against the very effort to acquire what St. Francis de Sales would call true devotion.

No, this is for those who are self-consciously committed to raising children to be lifelong Catholics. I have tried to outline seven dangers frequently experienced by parents who take their Catholicism very seriously. For, serious as we may be, we are all still very much “on the way”. We may be committed souls and committed parents, but we are as weak and fallible and sinful as anyone else who has received the treasure of the Faith with far too little gratitude.

Still, much has been given to us in our children, and so much is expected of us. Therefore, we may not fully trust our fallen nature. As parents we must be trained and corrected through constant prayer, by the Church and by Christ Himself. And of course even after our children are grown—and even if they fall away—our prayers must never cease, nor our confidence that Christ and His Church will bring them safely home. – Jeff Mrius, Catholic Culture, 10 Apr 2018

SHC holds follow-up parish assembly

A section of the delegates present at the second Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish Assembly, 9 Apr 2018, Sacred Heart Parish Centre Karamunsing.

KOTA KINABALU – Around 131 representatives from Sacred Heart Cathedral Parish and subparish of Church of Mary Immaculate turned up for the follow-up parish assembly at the Sacred Heart Parish Centre here on 9 Apr 2018.

At this gathering, Dr Jeffrey Soon, coordinating chairman of the parish PAX committee, presented to the delegates the summary of the reports they had gathered from all the groups/ministries/communities existing in the parish since the first gathering on March 13.

Prior to that, Soon also gave a brief overview of how the three parish priorities – issues on family life, faith formation and reaching out to nominal parishioners – came about and how they are related to the three challenges of apathy, secularisation and islamisation as well as the archdiocesan pastoral thrust of “going inward, going smaller, and going outwards” highlighted by PAX Assembly 2015.

In his turn, Parish Pastoral Council (PPC) chairman Jason Joenoi gave the overview from the PPC, highlighting the efforts to meet the needs of the parish, and calling on the groups to work together for the common good.

One of the issues highlighted during the Q&A session is the need to help the newly baptised to grow in their faith development which calls for the involvement of all the parish groups and communities.

The two assemblies were held in preparation for the archdiocesanwide Pre-PAX Assembly on May 1 at the SHPC.

Artificial contraception and abortion have damaged society, conference hears

An anti-abortion activist holds a model of a fetus during a protest outside of the Longworth House Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC on 7 May 2015. Protesters are demanding Republican lawmakers approve a bill banning all abortions after 20 weeks.  (Photo credit: MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON DC – Medical and legal experts addressing the damaging effects of artificial contraception and abortion on health care, law and society as a whole urged hundreds of attendees at a symposium to evangelise and transform the culture through the Catholic Church’s profound encyclical reaffirming the sanctity of marriage and human life.

The speakers were talking about Blessed Paul VI’s 1968 encyclical “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”) and they made the comments at an April 4-6, 2018 symposium marking the 50th anniversary of the document.

The gathering was titled “Embracing God’s Vision for Marriage, Love and Life” and hosted by The Catholic University of America.

Among the speakers was Helen Alvare, a professor of law at the Antonin Scalia Law School at George Mason University. She spoke on April 6 as part of a panel on “The Prophecies of ‘Humanae Vitae’ — A Panel on Health and Love: The Distortions Introduced Into Healthcare, the Marital Relationship and Law by the Contraceptive Mentality.”

Alvare addressed the historical roots of making birth control and abortion a constitutional right in the United States and what she described as a devastating decline of legal safeguards for women and children that has resulted.

State laws existed in this country banning unwed cohabitation, pornography, birth control and abortion, but throughout the 1950s and 1960s, those laws began to be wiped away, Alvare said. The purpose of these laws was to protect children so they would be raised with a married mother and father.

“Poor women and poor children have suffered the most since contraception,” she said. “(Society’s message is) sexual expression without marriage is freedom.”

In erasing those laws, the courts soon found a “right to privacy,” which now in the opinion of many people supersedes all other rights, she said.

As a result, “being without children is (believed to be) women’s highest goal. … The courts have made women’s chief freedom the right to be alone with their contraceptives and abortion clinics,” Alvare warned.

In another session, Elizabeth Kirk, a scholar who writes and speaks on matters of family law and religious freedom, spoke about the document’s teaching on infertility and the hope that it can bring to couples like Kirk and her husband, who have struggled with infertility throughout their marriage.

The heart of “Humanae Vitae” affirms that the unitive and procreative meanings of conjugal love are inseparable, said Kirk. It specifically notes that all couples are called to live fully fruitful lives, even if they are infertile, she added.

“The beauty of ‘Humanae Vitae’ is that it tells infertile couples that conjugal love expressed fully and faithfully always carries both meanings,” even if it does not result in biological children, said Kirk, who noted that the teaching “brings great comfort and consolation to infertile couples,” who can discern other ways that God is calling their particular marriage to bear fruit, such as through adoption.

“Infertility is just one example of how our human suffering can bear spiritual fruit,” she said.

The Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage, abortion, human sexuality and contraception is rooted in the same respect for human dignity that guides its work for social justice and care for poor people, Philadelphia Archbishop Charles Chaput said in his keynote address opening the symposium on April 4.

It is imperative that the church make known why it upholds its teaching, as reiterated in “Humanae Vitae” (“Of Human Life”), so that Catholics and the world understand God’s plan for humanity, said the archbishop, who chairs the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. – CNS, 10 Apr 2018

Indonesian priest shares on BECs with Papar parishioners

Cake-cutting ceremony by Father Thomas Yip, Romo Eduardo Raja, Sister Juanah and others at the Easter gathering, Fr John Tsung Hall Papar, 7 Apr 2018.

PAPAR – Indonesian priest Romo (Rev) Eduardo Raja of Ende Archdiocese Flores gave a sharing on Basic Ecclesial Communities (BECs or Komuniti Kristian Dasar [KKD]) to Papar parishioners on 7 Apr 2018 at the Fr John Tsung Hall St Joseph Parish here.

The sharing was given during the Easter gathering after the Sunset Mass.

In his welcoming speech, PPC chairman Johnny Sitamin thanked the parishioners for their participation during the Holy Week celebrations,  Romo Eduardo’s ministry to the Indonesian migrant and local communities at the outstation chapels and estates in Papar and Limbahau.

In his sharing, the visiting priest told his audience that the Ende BECs (or Komunitas Umat Basis or KUB as it is known in Indonesia) were started in the 1950s under the Congregation of Santa Maria and became an official body in the 1980s, providing prayer services with gospel reading and reflections,  spiritual and economic community services.

Since 1987, the KUB has become a centre of generating and collecting ideas and discussion platform in dealing with all aspects of lives and thereafter stamped its direct involvement in pastoral activities.

The priest said the KKD works best in smaller groups of 10-20 Catholic families living in a neighbourhood that  know each other well, meeting weekly, praying, reading and sharing the Gospel, celebrating the Eucharist, sharing problems encountered,  and  searching for possible solutions to these problems.

Romo Eduardo stressed the need for all the BECs to work together in ensuring that pastoral faith formation and development are in line with the archdiocesan vision and mission.

Prior to this sharing, the audience witnessed the Easter cake cutting led by Father Thomas Yip and rendition of the blessed birthday and congratulation songs accompanied by the choirs, parish pastoral councillors, catechist, Sister Juanah Saliun and her novices, and the parishioners. – William Charles Mindus (SOCCOM Papar)

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