Part Two is here.
by Mary Perkins, Beginning at Home
“What are you going to do when you finish school?” “Oh, get some kind of a job, I guess.”
How many Catholic young men and women today give this vague and dreary answer to a question which should call forth intelligence and heroism, zeal and hope!
And how many of us who are now parents, even those of us who had good Catholic parents and a good Catholic education, look back regretfully on many dismal years spent in finding out what our lives were for, convinced as we were that since God had not given us a priestly or religious vocation, He had no special plans for us at all.
But it is part of our faith itself to believe that God has a special plan, a vocation, for everyone, and that means for each of our children. And it is part of our faith to believe that this plan of His for each child is an integral part of His plan for the whole human race, for the upbuilding of the whole mystical Body of Christ to its final perfection.
Surely, then, one of our main tasks as parents must be to give our children a positive and realistic idea of the Christian vocation as a whole, and of the various vocations, professions, and occupations by which that vocation may be carried out by Christ’s members. And we must also do everything in our power to equip our children to find out and to fulfill the part which God has given each of them in His great plan.
Obviously, all our home life, all our education and training should tend to give our children the great plan of the Christian vocation, “to know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings…doing the truth in charity, to grow up in all things in Him who is the Head.”
But even if we teach our children the outlines of this great plan, even if we also show it to them in our daily living, our education may yet fail of its purpose if we do not give them some idea of the various ways in which this great plan actually is to be furthered by daily Christian life and work, of how it may be furthered not only by a man’s general ‘state in life,’ but by the works of that state and, in particular, by the work by which he earns his daily bread.
For unless God gives our children a clear and early vocation to the priesthood or religious life, the necessities of earning a living will face them as soon as their schooling is over.
And if we have not managed to show them how ‘real life’ and earning a living, in all its rightful forms, is meant to be part of the Christian vocation, the vision we have tried to give them of God’s plan may well prove to be more of a torment than a guide, more a cause of schizophrenia than of sanctity. And what a waste!
Let us begin, then, to give ourselves as clear an idea as possible of all the rightful forms of human work, of how each of these has been ‘Christ-ened’ by our Lord’s own example and by the grace He gives us to work in Him and for Him, and of how each is meant, in God’s plan to contribute to the building up of Christ’s Body and to the re- establishment of all things in Christ.
For if we ourselves can truly see how the work of a farmer, a storekeeper, a train-dispatcher, as well as that of a doctor or teacher or priest can be truly a share in Christ’s work, then we will be prepared to give our children an intelligent and comprehensive idea of real life and of the possibilities of their own future lives.
Moreover, if our children really possess the Christian idea of work, then they will be able, with God’s grace, to help make sense out of life for their fellows in high school or college, in their neighborhood or place of work, at that most trying and difficult age when one wants the best, but is learning to expect the worst.
What a marvelous opportunity for charity this would be, were more Catholic young people trained to take advantage of it!
If we consider human nature, then, in the light of Christian teaching, we see that God made men as incomplete creatures, needing each other’s services and many kinds of material and spiritual goods and services in order to exist and grow and perfect themselves. We see also that God made men to His image and likeness so that they could fulfill each other’s needs and their own.
As God is our Creator, He made men able to be makers: as He is Truth itself, He made men able to be teachers, communicating what they learn of His wisdom to each other. And as He is Goodness and Love, the end of all human wills, He made men able to rule and guide one another toward the ends of human life.
The work of mankind, then, consists in one way or another in making, teaching, and ruling, and, because of the very relation of men to God, in the work of uniting men to God, the work of priesthood.
Farmers, herdsmen, miners, builders, storekeepers, businessmen, all who work to make or produce or make available goods and services, are, obviously, makers, and many of them are also rulers of their enterprises and of those who work under them.
A doctor is a maker of health and a teacher, as his name implies, of how to become healthy. A lawyer is (or should be) a maker of peace and order and a teacher of how to achieve it. A writer is a teacher of some aspect of wisdom and a maker of the story or play or poem or article by which he communicates his vision to others.
Now all this four-fold work of mankind was planned by God in the beginning. But it has been, obviously, warped and thwarted and perverted in many ways by sin and sinfulness throughout human history, as it has been made arduous and difficult in punishment for original sin. But it has all now been redeemed and consecrated by Christ our Lord, so that men can now, in Him and through Him, work as befits God’s children.
Our Lord was anointed with the Oil of Gladness of the Holy Spirit at the very beginning of His human life, to be the Priest, the King and the Prophet of all mankind (see the Preface for the Feast of Christ the King and the ceremony for the Consecration of Holy Chrism).
And the great work which His Father gave Him to do of making us all into a Kingdom, included during His life on earth the ordinary human work of making tools and furniture at Nazareth, and of making stories and sermons in His public life.
Since, then, by Baptism and Confirmation, we share in our Lord’s life and His powers, His work and His purpose, we can in very truth work in Him, with Him and for Him. We can make the work by which we earn our daily bread a part of our Lord’s one great work of building up the Kingdom of God.
In the first place, as we all realize from the words of the Morning Offering, because of our share in Christ’s Priesthood as baptized and confirmed Christians, we can offer our lives and work and sufferings to God with Christ’s sacrifice in the Mass.
We were incorporated into Christ’s mystical Body by Baptism. Our vitality as members of that Body is increased as we grow in grace; we are living and useful members to the degree of our union with Christ in love.
According to the degree of this union, according to the measure in which our life is at the service of Christ’s life, our activity is somehow united with His so as to share in the value of His great work. The more perfectly Christian we are, then, the more whatever we do and suffer is united with His work and suffering, represented in the Mass, for the redemption of mankind.
In this way, all our work and suffering, whatever its other value, may be transformed into a positive contribution towards the greater vitality, growth and perfection of the whole mystical Body, the welfare of mankind and the glory of God.
“One secret of a sweet and happy Christian life is learning to live by the day. It is the long stretches that tire us. We think of life as a whole, running on for us. We cannot carry this load until we are three score and ten. We cannot fight this battle continually for half a century. But really there are no long stretches. Life does not come to us all at one time; it comes only a day at a time.” -My Prayer Book, Father Lasance http://amzn.to/2mwR5u6 (afflink)
Celebrate the Faith with your kids all year round!
For over half a century, Catholic families have treasured the practical piety and homespun wisdom of Mary Reed Newland’s classic of domestic spirituality, The Year and Our Children. With this new edition, no longer will you have to search for worn, dusty copies to enjoy Newland’s faithful insights, gentle lessons, and delightful stories. They’re all here, and ready to be shared with your family or homeschooling group. Here, too, you ll find all the prayers, crafts, family activities, litanies, and recipes that will help make your children ever-mindful of the beautiful rhythm of the Church calendar.
Author Mary Reed Newland here draws on her own experiences as the mother of seven to show how the classic Christian principles of sanctity can be translated into terms easily applied to children even to the very young.
Because it’s rooted in experience, not in theory, nothing that Mrs. Newland suggests is impossible or extraordinary. In fact, as you reflect on your experiences with your own children, you’ll quickly agree that hers is an excellent commonsense approach to raising good Catholic children.
Let Mrs. Newland show you how to introduce even your littlest ones to God and develop in your growing children virtues such as:
- The habit of regular prayer
- Genuine love of the Rosary
- A sense of the dignity of work
- Devotion to Mary and the saints
- A proper love for the things of this world and for the things of Heaven
- Attentiveness at Mass
- Love for the Eucharist
- An understanding and love of purity
- The ability to make good confessions
- And dozens of other skills, habits, and virtues that every good Catholic child needs