January 9, 2000
Dear Friends and Benefactors,
As this letter has said before, once a year is certainly not too often to write in defense of the family. The liberal ideas possessing most people's minds today keep it under relentless attack. But the family is the nursery-bed designed by God for the engendering and growth of human beings. Therefore as the family disintegrates, so everything human disintegrates.
Local horror stories continue to come to our knowledge at the Seminary. In the hope of aggressing the sickly "Sound of Music" mentality, let one more story of this sort be outlined: a boy of 14 who with his three brothers of 12, 11 and 10 is forced by their father to learn how to "be a man" upon their 9-year old sister! The problem is not that such insanity has never happened before, but that it is hugely increasing, while the amount of sanity available to deal with it is diminishing all the time.
Through a married couple that this 14-year old learned to trust, and through a good "EMT" (Emergency Medical Technician!), this lad was committed to hospital (for the severe lacerations over his back from his father's belt, inflicted every time he did not want to go along with the forced incest) and to the "Social Services". Problem solved? Listen to the lad's comments: "These adults are so dumb. We're told to listen to them, but everything they say is empty. And they try to dress and behave like teenagers!"
Indeed. How can the adults be so stupid as to send "technicians" to treat human horrors of the kind evoked above? If this EMT is a good man who succeeded in rapidly gaining the lad's confidence, it had nothing to do with his being any kind of "technician", it had everything to do with his having still some old-fashioned humanity and common sense. But these are being fast eroded.
The reason why our society drives its youngsters crazy by treating them like machines is of course that it is as strong in things material as it is weak in things spiritual, and so at every turn it wants to misconceive spiritual problems. Our society's strong suit is technology, so of course it plays off its strong suit. So it dopes its problem youngsters with violent drugs like "Prozac" or "Ritalin". But these youngsters are going to turn around and dope their elders with euthanasia! Which includes their parents! Which may start with their parents!
However, just suppose that one of these youngsters looks in the direction of the Catholic Church, and I mean the conservative Catholic Church. What will he find? "Sugar in the morning, sugar in the evening, sugar at supper time", while he is screaming out for meat and potatoes! Listen to the sales pitch for supposedly Catholic books from a Winter 2000 Trade Catalogue which just landed on my desk (before landing in the circular file. The title alone is a give-away "Beautiful Inspiring Spiritual Books, from XYZ Press")-
"Transform your 'random acts of kindness' into dynamic sources of spiritual regeneration" ... "Find your heart's rest in the peace that only God gives" ... "Experience one of the soul's greatest and purest pleasures" ... "The treasure of holiness" ... "How to develop maturity, spiritual awareness and even nobility' ... "A 'Dear Abby' for Christians" ... "Learn by example how to be good-humored, self-disciplined, and unshakably holy' ... "Conquer your anxiety forever" ... "Find lasting happiness" ... "A great benefit to all who suffer from discouragement", etc., etc., etc..
The EMT mentioned above, a good man with a distinguished track record in really helping youngsters, as above, was asked if religion helped him at all - "Oh, all those fake churches! When I can't take it any more I go off into the woods and talk alone with God". Would this "Beautiful Inspiring Spiritual" Catalogue give him any reason to think that the Catholic Church was not also a man-centred, money-making, kidology outfit?
Certainly not! Such advertising titles, which must be successful in selling books for XYZ Press, still betray; the pursuit of personal gratification. And even if the gratification is "spiritual" rather than physical, it is so self-centred as to be little better. I can imagine the EMT wanting to scream at XYZ Press, "But wake up, wake up, for your God's sake - your children are perishing in your homes, and all you can do is sell books to make people feel "spiritually" good about themselves while they stuff their children with Prozac and Ritalin? Is your religion for real?"
Dear readers, is our "Traditional" Catholicism any better? What kind of Catholicism is for real?
One in which there is suffering, which does not lie, when it hurts. Let us rejoice in suffering for its ability to teach truth amidst a world of lies. However, for suffering to teach truth, it must be accepted in sacrifice of self, neither rejected in a spirit of revolt, nor wallowed in as yet another form of self-gratification. For instance, I need not ask whether the Catholicism is real of a young couple living together and staying together for the sake of their children, but striving with might and main to live like brother and sister because they have discovered their marriage is invalid before God.
Then where can such a spirit of sacrifice be learned? Certainly not from book catalogues presenting even good books as self-gratification. Rarely even from reading books. Then where? Especially from attending with mind and heart the unbloody repeat of the bloody Sacrifice of the Cross, i.e. the true Sacrifice of the Mass (which absolutely excludes the Mickey Mouse Novus Ordo). And how will that put sacrifice into people's lives? When in a world of unreality I am in the presence of the divine reality of the man-God sacrificing Himself for me, I cannot help feeling unworthy, so if I persevere in attending the true Mass I will soon want to go to individual Confession (as many XYZ readers may not have done in a long time), which means the immediate sacrifice of my pride and vanity, and the long term struggle (if I persevere) with the rest of my miseries and failings. And as the state of grace re-establishes a beach-head in our individual lives, so it must, if we persevere, spill over into our family lives.
Sacrifice in the family. For heaven's sakes, what can the family be without sacrifice? Answer, exactly that which is slaughtering the children with Prozac and Ritalin.
The head of the family is the father, so the sacrifice must start with him. "Husbands, love your wives and be not bitter towards them" (Col. III, 19). The husband and father must give up his independence, selfish pursuits, and, all due proportion observed, career and money, to make time for his family, quantity time, because by how much time he gives them they will accurately gauge how much he cares for them. In particular his wife needs from him attention, time and affection, not disproportionately much, but certainly more than many husbands today come up with.
"Love in a man's life is a thing apart,
'Tis a woman's whole existence."
A wise husband who discovered the art of husbanding has written that the wife carries the unavoidable burden of the home, which cannot easily be lightened, but her husband should let her know that despite her problems, exhaustion and dishevelment, he loves her, that he is sorry she is suffering and that he would change things for her if he could. That is all she wants, and yet it is everything. A Fr. Hesburgh said that the greatest thing a man can do for his children, is to love their mother.
As for the wife, sacrifice is inscribed by God in the depths of her feminine nature, only sin and the modern world's crazy falsification of woman get in the way. Let her with the help of her Catholic Faith re-discover her deep-down instinct to give herself to husband, children, family, and she will be as happy as she can be in this "valley of tears", while preparing for eternity.
"Wives, be subject to your husbands", says St. Paul, "as it behoveth in the Lord" (Col. III, 18). For "The head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man" (I Cor XI, 3). (From which it follows that if a man wishes to be obeyed by his family, the first thing he should do is himself obey Christ). Let the wife then sacrifice her own will, her emancipation, her trousers, her money and pseudo-career in order to attain the glorious freedom of motherhood to bring into the world and raise whatever children God sends -- "The woman", says St. Paul again, "shall be saved through childbearing; if she continue in faith, and love, and sanctification, with sobriety" (I Tim II, 15).
However, for this purpose it is, again, essential that the husband know how to honour and love his wife in her role as mother, because almost nobody else will. And as for accepting the children God sends, both of them must trust in God. As a mother recently wrote to me, "We have a few more child-bearing years in which to exercise trust in God. As our family increases, this has been the most difficult of crosses and the richest of blessings".
I must say that as I visit the various churches, chapels and missions of the Society of St. Pius X in the United States in particular, I am impressed by the number of lovely young mothers with many children, looking feminine and fulfilled. I imagine they are the delight of their husbands, and I imagine that few of them wear trousers or slacks, even during the week. Am I under an illusion? God bless them, almost none of our women wear men's wear to Mass.
As for bringing children into the world, everything going on around us would seem to discourage it. But how could God through His Church so strictly forbid sinful means of avoiding children, and not be willing to bless and protect the homes where His law is obeyed? For parents to obey God is the key to their being obeyed by their own children. Contraception and teenage revolt rise and fall together. Let the home be filled with the Faith in the form of sacrifice, not in the form of self-gratification disguised as "spirituality", and the children will have a strength of God inside that need fear little that the Devil can throw at them from the outside. Only if we adopt the principles of the Devil for marriage and family need we fear him or the world. Our Faith is our victory over the world (I Jn V, 4).
Dear friends, whatever looks dark or threatening around us in the New Year or Millennium is only allowed by God to drive His friends closer to Him. Let us use it that way.
Most sincerely yours in Our Lord,