Wonderful book! The Catholic Family Handbook

IF YOU could carefully study families that are genuinely happy--those 
in which father and mother truly love each other and their children, 
and where children obey, respect and love their parents--you would find 
that they have many traits in common. These characteristics are 
distinct and recognizable, and sharply differentiate these families 
from those in which there is unending tension, bickering and 

No institution has had the opportunity to observe the characteristics 
of happy families as has the Church. Through the centuries, she has 
recognized the family as the ideal means of helping parents and 
children to lead holy and happy lives, and she has carefully noted 
which factors best encourage holiness and happiness. What she has long 
known has been borne out in recent years by the studies of social 
scientists. These researchers have questioned thousands of persons who, 
by their own testimony, are members of happy families; and they have 
questioned other thousands who admit that their family life is not 
happy. From such beginnings they have uncovered the characteristics of 
happy families which are lacking in the other kind. The findings of the 
Church, tested over the centuries, and of sociologists, using modern 
scientific methods, agree that there are five main characteristics of a 
happy family.Feb. 19, 2014 006

First, it places full, unquestioned trust in God. Father, mother and 
children accept the Almighty as their Creator without reservation. They 
show love and respect for Him and His laws in the everyday conduct of 
their lives. They pray together; they attend Mass and receive Communion 
together; they practice other devotions together; they make their home 
a little sanctuary, with pictures and statues to remind them of Our 
Lord or the Blessed Mother.

The father who believes and trusts in God is best equipped to perform 
his functions as head of the family. Aware of his responsibilities to 
the Lord for his children, he strives to instill moral virtues by his 
own example. The mother who holds the Blessed Virgin as her model 
develops the love and patience which nurture the spiritual and 
emotional growth of her children.

When father and mother give living evidence of their faith in God, they 
no longer need spend so much time trying to decide which course to 
pursue in bringing up their children. They usually know what to do, 
because they have a standard to guide them. They only ask: What does 
God want of us as parents? When they seek to understand His way and to 
follow it, they free themselves of the confusion which besets parents 
without standards upon which to rest.

Children in a home where God is worshipped also know where they stand. 
They are taught to respect the Creator and, in respecting Him, to 
respect all lawful authority. They learn in a precise way what conduct 
is acceptable and what is forbidden. In their study of religion and 
religious truths, they learn at an early age that punishment will 
inevitably follow wrongdoing; thus they learn the major principle which 
will guide their conduct throughout their lives.

Many authorities have observed that a major sign of danger in marriage 
arises when one or both of the partners stops attending religious 
services regularly. Records of the nation's courts clearly prove that 
the home which worships God does not produce the child who appears 
before a judge on charges of juvenile delinquency. Studies of unwed 
mothers prove that the girl who has learned the virtue of purity in a 
religious setting at home is not the one who gets into trouble in her 

Second, the happy family puts interest in its home in first place. 
Father and mother fully recognize that the most important work they can 
do is to train their children to be a credit in the eyes of God.Feb 28, 2014 002

One sometimes encounters a father who spends long hours at business 
during the week and then spends his week ends with business associates. 
In pursuing success or wealth--and perhaps believing that he is a good 
father in doing so--he refuses his children's fundamental need to know 
him as a human being. On the other hand, one often sees men who hold 
positions which, by the worlds standards, are low in social prestige. 
Perhaps they sacrifice material progress by devoting their leisure time 
to their children--playing and talking with them, sympathizing with 
their problems and encouraging them in their aspirations. Regardless of 
what the world thinks, the first type of father is a failure and the 
second type is a success.

In a happy home, parents often hold firm against other allurements 
which tempt them to put the needs of their children in an inferior 
place. Such allurements include the desire for an overly active social 
life, the constant pursuit of pleasure in the form of commercial 
entertainment and the exclusive choice of hobbies (golf, cards, dancing 
clubs, etc.) from which children are excluded.

Obviously, men must work to provide for their families. It is also 
obvious that parents are entitled to entertainment away from their 
children--in fact, an evening alone can have a pronounced therapeutic 
effect. Nor is the desire to succeed in business or to enjoy one's self 
blameworthy. But when a father becomes overly ambitious and sacrifices 
his children for his career advancement, or when a mother engages in an 
unending round of social activities, the great bond of unity in the 
family is weakened. Mutual love and respect, which are born and held 
only in intimacy, are the ingredients that make for true family life, 
and they cannot thrive when the father or mother places other 
objectives ahead of them.

Third, in happy families, father and mother occupy a position of 
equality, but there is no misunderstanding that he is the head. The 
importance of the mother is an accepted fact. She is the heart of the 
family--the custodian of love and warmth, the first comforter and 
educator of the children. In according her a just status, however, we 
must not weaken the father's traditional position.

By nature and temperament, he should exercise headship. When he fails 
to do so, his children lack an appropriate male model to guide them in 
their conduct, and they are likely to reach maturity without properly 
understanding the roles they must play as men or women. But while he 
must be the leader, he should not be like a common type of fathers of 
the past--the tyrant whose word was law, and whose wife and children 
constantly trembled before him. Such a father does more harm than good; 
his children either become submissive before everyone, or become so 
rebellious against authority that they cannot lead normal lives as law-
abiding citizens. In happy homes, the father is the just dispenser of 
punishment, but he also wins the respect of his children by the 
reasonable rules he imposes and the merciful way he enforces them.

Fourth, the happy family is based upon mutual sacrifice. In such a 
home, Dad will forgo desserts at lunch to save for a family vacation 
which all members of the family may enjoy. Mother will wear a dress 
that is several seasons old so that her daughter may take piano 
lessons; and the children will save for weeks to buy her a special gift 
for Mother's Day. When Dad must do extra work at home for his employer 
and Mother can help him, she gladly does so. When guests are coming and 
the house needs a thorough cleaning, Dad rolls up his sleeves and does 
his share of the manly work. Johnny washes the windows as his regular 
chore, Billy sets the table for dinner, Mary washes the dishes while 
Mother rests, and after school Tommy sometimes watches the baby in her 
playpen while Mother shops. In this family, everyone makes sacrifices 
for the common good.

Fifth, the happy family runs on rules. The children know exactly what 
they can do without offending others, and what they cannot do. They 
know what their punishment will be if they break the rules. And they 
know that it will not vary from time to time or from parent to parent.March 3, 2014 056

Establishing clear-cut family rules requires complete agreement between 
father and mother. Few things disturb a child more than when his father 
establishes one standard of conduct and his mother makes continuous 
exceptions to it. Once a father and mother agree, neither should change 
the rules without consulting the other, or the child will not know what 
is expected of him. And both father and mother must share in enforcing 

Probably the happiest homes are those in which each family member 
imposes rules upon himself. One wife becomes unduly disturbed whenever 
references are made to the alleged inferiority of women in any area of 
activity. She becomes angry at jokes about women drivers, women who are 
late for appointments, women who can't balance a checkbook. Out of 
respect for her feelings, her husband never raises such subjects even 
in a joking way. Many husbands have similar quirks in their make-up 
which may be unjustified from an objective point of view but which 
their wives respect for the sake of harmony. Sometimes children also 
become sensitive about certain points. When family members are 
motivated by a spirit of Christian tolerance, they willingly impose the 
rule upon themselves not to raise such touchy subjects.

As this review of the characteristics of happy families suggests, 
achievement of a genuinely Christian environment in your home will not 
result from mere chance. Rather you must put into effect the principles 
that follow from recognition of the fact that the family should be a 
triangle with God at its apex, or else it is doomed to failure. For the 
very characteristics that make a home holy, happy, and a source of 
strength and solace for its members come from nowhere but Almighty God. 
The love which the mother displays for her infant, the just and 
consistent way in which the father exercises his authority--these are 
but human copies of the loving authority which God exercises over all 
His children. And the respect for God and each other that family 
members display in the truly happy and Christian home springs from the 
two greatest commandments--that we love God with all our minds and all 
our hearts, and that we love our neighbor as ourselves.+angel frame+ - 2zxDk-whH8 - print