by Celestine Strub, OFM, The Christian Home
The world today is full of reformers. Society, we are told, is sick with many ills, and a radical remedy is imperative if the utter breakdown of Christian civilization is to be averted. Yet, while the urgent need of reform is quite generally conceded, there is a wide divergence of opinions as to the proper means of bringing it about.
As Catholics, possessed of the divinely revealed truths that should regulate all human action, we know that many of the remedies proposed for the cure of social ills are inadequate, because they do not reach the root of the evil; and that many a well-meant reform movement is foredoomed to failure, because it is not based on the only true and solid foundation of all social reform; namely, the principle that there can be no real, permanent social justice and morality without private justice and morality; and that there can be no enduring private justice or morality without religion.
So much is agreed upon among Catholics: religion and morality must form the basis of all true reform; and it is a truism to say that if all the individuals that make up society were morally good and religious, the ills that afflict society would disappear.
It is furthermore agreed among Catholics that the Catholic Church offers the individual all that is necessary for leading a good life. Why then do so many of her children fail? They have the true Faith; they have the Commandments, which tell them what they must do and what they must avoid; and they have the means of grace, prayer and the Sacraments, to help them to avoid sin and practice virtue. Why, then, are they not all morally good and religious?
The Sin of Adam
The fundamental reason is simply that they do not choose to be so. Sin is apparently so pleasant, at least for the moment, and the constant practice of virtue is so hard, that men often choose the former in preference to the latter. Even in Paradise, where all circumstances were so favorable, Adam and Eve abused their free will by disobeying God.
But in consequence of that first sin of Adam, there exists in all his descendants a strong inclination to evil, which makes the practice of virtue still more difficult. And added to all this is the example of the wicked world in which we live.
The Enemy Without
It is this latter, the bad example of the world around us, which forms the great obstacle to social reform even among Catholics. If man were merely an individual living by himself, he would have only the enemy within to fight against; but being a social being, destined by God to live in society with others, he has also an enemy outside himself-the evil example of many of those with whom he lives.
How to overcome this evil example is the great problem of social reform. It is easy enough to say that the bad example must be offset by good example; but how and where is the good example to be had?
Many there are who say that since it is mainly social attractions that lead Catholics into dangerous company and dangerous places of amusement, we must have our own societies, our own social agencies, club rooms and recreation centers, so that our people can satisfy their craving for company and amusement in a harmless manner.
While admitting that our people should be provided with ample opportunity for healthful and innocent recreation; while admitting, too, the importance and desirability of Catholic societies, both secular and religious, and attesting that, when properly conducted under proper auspices, such societies can do an immense amount of good, I am nevertheless of the opinion that it is not by means of these societies that social evils will be greatly reduced.
Let us have these societies by all means; but when we have established them and made them flourish, let us not imagine that our task is done. In all such societies something is wanting,’namely, the intimate daily association of the members in all the important affairs of life.
The Best Catholic Society
Happily, however, there is a society that has this all-important requisite; a natural society in which the great majority of men spend their lives; a society that is capable of exerting a lifelong influence on its members. That society, dear reader, is the family.
In the family we have all the essential things that man requires as a social being for his physical, moral and intellectual well-being and advancement. And since the family rather than the individual, is the unit of society, to reform society one must begin with the family.
Restore religion to its rightful place in the home; let religion direct, control and permeate the family life, and not only will the individual have the safeguard he needs against the evils of society, but society itself will be transformed. This, then, religion in the home, is to my mind, the best of all remedies for the reform of society; and the purpose of this little book is to explain the remedy and to induce all Christian families that can be reached to adopt it.
“For the love of our Savior, Jesus Christ, we implore pastors of souls, by every means in their power, by instructions and catechisms, by word of mouth and by written articles widely distributed, to warn Christian parents of their grave obligations.
And this should be done not in a merely theoretical and general way, but with practical and special application to the various responsibilities of parents touching the religious, moral, and civil training of their children, and with indication of the methods best adapted to make their training effective, supposing always the influence of their own exemplary lives.” -Pius XI, Christian Education of Youth
What is our conversation like each day, especially with the members of our family? Do we continually talk about depressing news, do we regularly voice our negative opinions about the people and situations around us? Do we talk about our own sufferings and our needs in a complaining manner? How about a different approach? Let’s talk about the positive instead. If we are talking of people, let’s make the effort to only bring up the good. Want to talk about heroes? Our grandparents, parents, ordinary folk and how they have overcome obstacles would be a good testimony to your kids. We all have stories to tell….make sure they are bringing out the best in those who are listening! – Finer Femininity
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