BETWEEN PARENTS AND CHILDREN
[continued from yesterday]
...He knows also the blessings that are in store for the true vocation faithfully followed.
By virtue of this division of labor it comes about that in addition to the love, reverence, and obedience which children owe to their parents, there is also a love, reverence, and obedience due to spiritual superiors. The priest is God's servant through whose ministry God's graces are conveyed to the soul. He is our spiritual father, and therefore in all matters spiritual is entitled to the obedience of the spiritual children committed to his care. And by the same title of spiritual fatherhood he has also a claim on their reverence and their love.
Sometimes it is necessary for both parents and pastors to get others to help them in their work of temporal and spiritual education. This help is represented in modern times by a vast system of scholastic and collegiate institutions. The schoolmaster, the schoolmistress, the professor, the master of the apprentice, — all these, too, have in their own measure a claim on the love, reverence, and obedience of the children committed to their care.
The teacher stands in place of the parent or pastor. It is his duty to recognize in himself an instrument in the hand of God, for the education and improvement of those committed to his care. On this account, therefore, he is entitled to his share of love, reverence, and obedience. True, the love cannot equal the love of a parent.
Still, in proportion as the schoolmaster takes upon himself the responsibility of training a child, he may lawfully expect from the child corresponding duties. The principle involved is the same. The teacher is doing the work of God. The child, therefore, in honoring the teacher thereby acknowledges its submission to God; and in doing so it does honor to itself, for It makes profession of its right place in the order of the world.
In these days there is a strong tendency among men to exaggerate their rights and to undervalue the rights of their superiors. In the family, and in the State and in religion, there is a strong force of opposition to law. It is well, then, for children to realize early the dignity of dutifulness to parents, spiritual pastors, and temporal masters.
From a merely natural point of view such dutifulness can only lead to the good of the children. But from a supernatural point of view the thought is noble In the highest degree. We see that in serving our parents and those in authority for the sake of God, we are serving our own best interests; for we are thereby doing our best to place ourselves in that adjustment of the universe which God has ordained as the most perfect.
The saints have ever been eminent In this virtue. Let us take the Blessed Thomas More as a glorious example. Dutifulness toward his parents was one of the most beautiful traits of his life. From his earliest years he showed the tenderest affection for them. Then, when in later life he came to occupy the high post of Lord Chancellor, the fondness and reverence for his parents increased rather than diminished. And the story is told of him how, when his father held a position in one of the lower courts, he used to be seen every morning to go and kneel and ask for the old man's blessing.
The law is clear, then, and so it remains for children to fulfill the commandment and to look forward confidently to the reward which will surely come to them in this life and in the next. For God has promised and He is faithful....
[End of Chapter X]
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.