- Salvation — seeking to save our eternal souls and help save the souls of others (that salvation, the Church teaches, is God’s free gift but requires our cooperation through faith in God, obedience to his commandments, and repentance of our grave sins).
- Service — using our God-given talents to build God’s kingdom here on earth.
- Sanctity — growing in holiness.
The third of these life goals, sanctity, is central to building Catholic character. At the end of the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says something that is stunning: “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Mt 5:48). St. Gregory put it this way: “The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” So then, where is a parent to start? First, realize that to prepare our kids to follow Christ is to prepare them to take the road less traveled. Living a life of Christian virtue has always been countercultural but never more so than in today’s media-driven, materialistic, sexually decadent, and morally relativistic world. With that in mind, we will explore five fundamentals of raising children to have solid Catholic character. 1. Build a loving relationship with your children Time together. Kids will care about our values when they know we care about them. Emotionally intimate time is especially important for helping our children feel loved and for maximizing our influence on the kind of person they are becoming. The late Christian Barnard, originator of the heart transplant, remembers the times with his father:
Whenever we were ill, my father got up late at night to doctor us. I suffered from festering toenails that pained so much I would cry in bed. My father used to draw out the fester with a poultice made of milk and bread crumbs or Sunlight soap and sugar. And when I had a cold, he would rub my chest with Vicks and cover it with a red flannel cloth. Sunday afternoons we walked together to the top of the hill by the dam. Once there, we would sit on a rock and look down at the town below us. Then I would tell my problems to my father, and he would speak of his to me.
Love as communication. The quality of our love often comes down to the quality of our communication. To create quality dinner discussion, for example, try having a topic: “What was the best part of your day?” “What is a way you helped another person?” “Who has a problem the rest of the family might be able to help with?” Love as sacrifice. Says one mother: “The most important thing parents can do for their children is to love each other and stay together.” In a major shift from a generation ago, both secular and religious marriage counselors are now urging married couples having problems to do everything possible to work out their difficulties and save their marriage. Catholic parents can strengthen their marriages by drawing constantly on the graces of the Sacrament of Marriage through good times and bad. Research shows that the more a husband and wife each practice their faith, the better their relationship, and the more their children thrive. — This week, let us concentrate on how we relate with one another in our families:
- Talk with one another without the aid of the palm-held ‘smart’ devices.
- Ask Jesus to strengthen your marriage. If you are having difficulty, consider making a retreat through the Archdiocese’s Retrouville Retreats.
- As a family, pray together at the beginning or the end of the day. Ask each person in your family what they would like to pray for.
NEXT WEEK: The Power of a Good Example ==== This first of five-part article is taken from Thomas Lickona’s “Building Catholic Character: 5 Things Parents Can Do.” Catholic Education Resource Center (April 18, 2012). Resource: http://www.catholiceducation.org/en/education/catholic-contributions/building-catholic-character-5-things-parents-can-do.html