BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN
[continued from yesterday]
...We may see more clearly now what kind of love that of children to parents must be. It must not be one merely of external deference. It must be that heartfelt love, which is human affection apprehended by the reason, controlled and directed by the will, raised and spiritualized by grace. Thus cultivated it will of necessity bring forth fruits in external life and conduct. There will be no more black looks or harsh words; no more unseemly quarrels and aggravations; no more complaints of parents neglected in sickness and old age.
"Of what an evil frame is he that forsaketh his father: and he is cursed of God that angereth his mother."Nay, more. If once the real motive of filial love be grasped and the consequent heartfelt affection be excited, there will be no need of forced outward deference, which even in times of annoyance and dissatisfaction must be observed.
All will flow naturally, or rather supernaturally; for with a person whose heart is right, all his actions, however natural, easy, and pleasant they are, are spiritualized and clothed with divine charity.
The superiority of parents involves reverence on the part of children. It is not the reverence due from an equal to an equal, nor yet is it that of a slave to a master. But it is that special kind of affectionate regard which is known as filial reverence. It is begotten only by a certain attitude of mind. It cannot exist merely as an external show. It cannot exist from any purely philosophical motive. Unless there is an inward acknowledgment to one's self of the parent's superiority under God, there cannot be true filial reverence.
This duty, therefore, must have its foundation laid in the heart and mind. The habit of mind must be cultivated of regarding parents as representative in some way of the superiority of God. The reverential fear of God is the root motive of filial reverence of parents.
"He that feareth the Lord honoreth his parents and will serve them as his masters, that brought him into the world."From the inward habit of mind and affection there will flow forth the external reverence of words and deeds.
It may happen, it often does happen, that a parent does things which tend to disturb that inward reverence. Here, however, we are concemed with the duties of children, and particularly with the duty of reverence on occasions when the parent has failed in his or her duty. The child is never justified in offering to a parent irreverence.
To attempt to justify such conduct on the grounds that the parent has forfeited the reverence due to him is to have missed the chief meaning of reverence to parents. We do not owe them i this reverence simply because they are good and kind and affectionate. Doubtless those qualities ido impose an extra claim on us. But the foundation reason of our reverence is the bare fact that ithey are our parents and that under God they are bur superiors.
And no amount of subsequent neglect of duty on their part can undo this fact. Of course, our inward feelings are not always under our control. Still, in such circumstances we can and ought to maintain at least an outward reverence of word and deed. Then this outward behavior will react on the inward soul and will tend to fasten the due inward reverence. The exercise of control over our outward actions will strengthen our inward patience, and the effect of this inward patience will make itself felt in the parent and thus be the means, perhaps, of making him reflect on his duty.
"Honor thy father in work and word and all patience, that, a blessing may come upon thee from him, and his blessing may remain in the latter end."[Continued tomorrow]
From Marriage and Parenthood, The Catholic Ideal
By the Rev. Thomas J. Gerrard
Author of "Cords of Adam," "The Wayfarer's Vision," ETC.
Copyright, 1911, by Joseph F. Wagner, New York.