Thoughts? Too harsh? Outdated?
(Personally, I wouldn’t send my daughter away. She would need her family most at this time.
Another thought ….If the father is no good, and if she left the area until the baby is born, this may prevent a very bad marriage. It would give her time to think more objectively about the man.
It’s a fragile situation, that is for sure….)
From The Catholic Family Handbook, Rev. George Kelly, 1950’s
Often, despite the most sincere efforts of parents, a child for some inexplicable reason fails to develop into a normal adolescent or adult who lives up to his responsibilities respectably and honorably.
A son or daughter may be attracted to evil companions and may lead a life which causes public scandal. An offspring may drink, gamble, or develop other habits that become occasions of sin, if they are not sinful themselves.
Or, after acquiring a limited education, he may become sophisticated and turn away from the teachings of the Church because they are not modern enough for him.
Whenever such conditions occur, good Catholic parents are sorely tried.
If they could they would correct their child’s conduct and place him once again on the path to Christian virtue. Unfortunately, however, their influence over a child begins to wane after his early years.
A tendency toward evil that you can correct easily in your child of six will be difficult to eradicate when he is fourteen and may become impossible to remove when he is twenty-two. The plight of parents with offspring who cause shame should remind all mothers and fathers that the time to implant habits of virtue is when children are young–not when they are adults.
With our present knowledge of the causes of delinquency, promiscuity, and other shameful deviations from normal behavior, we can advise parents that scoldings, recriminations and threats are almost always foredoomed to failure.
Our Lord clearly taught in his gentleness toward Mary Magdalene that sinners can be won over by love, affection and sympathetic understanding–and that one may legitimately hope for reformation regardless of the depth to which the sinner has declined.
Parents must never cease to strive, by prayer, example and teaching, to help their wayward child to save his soul. They should create a framework of love and affection in which to discuss his problems with him and, by reasoning with him, try to get him to mend his ways.
Of course, you cannot condone sin. If your child uses your home for sinful purposes, you are morally obligated to prevent him from doing so.
If he refuses to be married in the Church, you cannot attend a civil ceremony and thus implicitly bless his action. You must always avoid giving others the impression that you support your child in actions which violate moral teaching.
On the other hand, you should make it plain that while you deplore and detest the sin, you love the sinner. By your unquestioned concern, kindness and sacrifice, and despite obstacles which seem insurmountable and disappointments which bring you to the border of despair, you may yet see a reawakening of his conscience and his ultimate return to you and the Church.
The need for sympathy and love is especially important in the case of a daughter who becomes pregnant outside marriage and faces the awful prospect of bearing a child without a father.
In older generations, such a sin was often considered justification for her parents to turn her away from their door and to thrust her, hopeless and friendless, upon a scoffing world. Such cold-blooded lack of charity was often a greater sin than the act which prompted it. Fortunately very few modern parents so lack compassion that they would reject a daughter at the moment when she needs them most.
Girls in such a predicament often have not received the parental love to which they are entitled. Some grow up in an atmosphere where they are deprived of natural objects for their affection, and they respond unthinkingly to the first individual who offers them kindness.
Of course, every person must fully accept the consequences for his or her own sins. But parents should also humbly consider whether their actions have not contributed to the tragedy. Even where they are not at fault, they should have charity.
When pregnancies occur outside of marriage, the question usually arises of whether the girl should marry the man responsible for her condition.
Experience teaches that marriages based solely upon a physical relationship which has produced unforeseen consequences stand little chance of providing happiness for either man, woman or child. If a strong bond of affection exists between the boy and girl, however, marriage may be considered a wise solution.
If marriage is impossible or undesirable, plans should be made for the girl to live away from her home community in the later stages of her pregnancy. Many institutions exist to provide kind care and sympathetic attention to unmarried mothers.
Often, they also arrange for the infant to be adopted, because the unmarried mother almost invariably lacks resources to provide the proper home environment for her child during his long years of dependency. The parish priest will know where institutions of this kind are located within convenient distance of the community where the girl lives.
When this procedure is followed, the unwed mother can return to her home without becoming the subject of a public scandal. Now, as during her pregnancy, her parents should display the Christian virtue of forgiveness. They should do all within their power to encourage her to turn from past habits and associations and to build a new life with courage and trust in God.
“Patience is a powerful help in married life. It controls and restrains strains angry feelings and outbursts of anger. It is a mature virtue that shows superiority of intellect, practical wisdom in daily life, strength of will, and a good, humble, and benevolent heart.
The more spiritual progress you make, the more patient and gentle you will become. Patience procures for you love and influence. It attracts people to you and is of the utmost importance in the family, since you spend so much of your lives together.” – Fr. Lovasik, Catholic Family Handbook https://amzn.to/2Dbcimb (afflink)
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Here, Baroness Maria Augusta Trapp tells in her own beautiful, simple words the extraordinary story of her romance with the baron, their escape from Nazi-occupied Austria, and their life in America.
Now with photographs from the original edition.
Most people only know the young Maria from The Sound of Music; few realize that in subsequent years, as a pious wife and a seasoned Catholic mother, Maria gave herself unreservedly to keeping her family Catholic by observing in her home the many feasts of the Church’s liturgical year, with poems and prayers, food and fun, and so much more!
With the help of Maria Von Trapp, you, too, can provide Christian structure and vibrancy to your home. Soon your home will be a warm and loving place, an earthly reflection of our eternal home.
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Hello, I think it was in earlier times more about being strict and just than merciful, but sadly it still happens. I dont think it is necessary to do what is stated in the last part of the article and I agree with you.
I especially like this quote which can refer to any part of our life as we are called to love people: “Of course, every person must fully accept the consequences for his or her own sins. But parents should also humbly consider whether their actions have not contributed to the tragedy. Even where they are not at fault, they should have charity.”
Humans are weak, especially without God, and it is important to take in consideration the circumstances even though God can turn everything to good.
Very good, thank you.
I agree with Marija, I can see value to being tough on children and turning your back on them when they go the wrong path. When pregnancy is involved, I can see value in sending someone to an institution so that they can repent and think about what they’ve done and evaluate how they want to change their life for the better. Giving the baby up for adoption is really sad and I don’t think God would want that. How strained and heart broken the mother would be for giving up her child.
Laura Puckett said:
Dear Mrs. Vanderputten,
Firstly, thank you so much for your blog ministry! It has been SUCH a blessing to my family! I had been wanting to respond to this post for some time but just finally got around to it! There is certainly that balance of justice and mercy that we all have to carry in our parenting. The article I think is a perfect balance of the two. The solution of sending her off to be cared for by nuns (perhaps holier and more tender than the parents themselves) gives the errant child a sense of how her sinfulness has cut her off from the Communion of saints, and the “ nursery of Saints” ( her household)while also giving the impure one an opportunity for tenderness, compassion, mercy, and repentance.
Sending the daughter off likewise preserves the younger children from the contamination of impurity. It is kind of like why the Church expels the heretics. It is both just and merciful, and prevents the faithful from being corrupted by the heretic’s errors.
If my daughter did this, would I want her horrible example to be allowed into my home, to potentially contaminate the rest of my children? How are you to preserve the innocence of your younger children when this horrific scandal is before their eyes daily? How can we be merciful to both the impure child and the rest of our little flock? How would Catholic parents explain to their little ones how their sister got into this circumstance? Keeping the scandalous daughter in the home contradicts, by example, the training for purity. Whereas our Catholic purity books give us sweet formulas to teach about the nest in the womb of Mary where Jesus flew! The act that brough Our Immaculate Lady into the world. Etc. This association of sex and wickedness would doubtless make an impression that would contradict a good Christian education. It would give them impressions of IMPURITY and base selfishness. And woe to him through whom a scandal comes……
As the Church fathers and philosophers of old repeat, we imitate those whom we are around. Keeping the faithless one in such close contact with the siblings is dangerous. I do NOT want the rest of my little flock imitating the unchaste one. Perhaps this was social sense was in the mind of the author. of this article. Whereas it is not in our modern minds, we are in more individualistic society, and tend to think more in terms of helping the unchaste one and forget about all of the impressionable children who would surround this unchaste one. Father James Doran( former SSPX ,turned Marionite rite) mentioned in a family sermon on “ bandcamp” that St. Alphonsus, and the other moralists consider an unwed pregnancy so scandalous that the woman was dispensed from the Sunday obligation to attend Holy Mass. I think in this absolutely wicked society we have lost a sense of how truly horrific it is for a young woman to ruin an innocent child’s life through her selfishness, and pave the way for impressionable souls around her to follow the broad path to hell.
Kicking the daughter onto the streets would preserve your younger children from scandal, but would harden and cause excessive sufferings to the poor sinner. Doubtless, that option is CRUEL!
Welcoming the scandal into the home would create an atmosphere of normalizing that horrible sin, and would be a grave injustice to the younger siblings who need purity and holiness set before them.
Sending the daughter to some nuns to care for her in this scandalous maternity, what a perfect answer in light of the needs of the WHOLE family.
May the Holy Saints Anne and Joachim whose feast we celebrated yesterday preserve us from ever having such a scandal in our “domestic Churches”. And may they give wisdom, prudence, and charity to any poor parents whose good family name is forever stained by such a crime.
In Christ, Mrs. Puckett