THE CATHOLIC FAMILY
[continued from yesterday]
The ideal of the Catholic family has been once fully realized. There have been many good examples, all more or less approaching the ideal. But all except one must be regarded as having failed, at least in some respects, to achieve the perfection of family life. That one, of course, is the Holy Family of Nazareth. Since, therefore, God has given us the ideal fully realized in the concrete, it is to that rather than the more remote symbols that we must go for our lessons as to what the Catholic family should be. The Word was made flesh to reveal to us the mind of the Eternal Father. In order, then, to learn the mind of the Eternal Father concerning the nature and end of the Catholic family life we cannot do better than turn our thoughts to the little home at Nazareth.
The school of the Apostles was formed by Our Lord during the years of His public ministry. Then, having been organized by Him during His lifetime, it was fully promulgated and endowed with its special gifts after His death, by the descent of the Holy Ghost on the day of Pentecost. The purpose of the Incarnation was the salvation of souls. The purpose of the Church was the salvation of souls. The purpose of the first Catholic Family was the salvation of souls. The first and foremost purpose, then, of every Catholic family is to obtain for its members the possession of everlasting life. The family does not exist merely for the sake of the love of husband and wife; nor for the love of parent and children; nor for the acquisition of worldly fortunes; nor for the promotion of the children in business; nor for the material prosperity of nations.
All these are lawful and subordinate aims, subordinate to the final aim which is to help immortal souls to get to heaven. This is the first and, in a sense, the only lesson to be learned from the Holy Family of Nazareth; the purpose of the Catholic family is the undoing of sin, the hindrance of sin, the propagation of those truths and virtues which lead to life eternal.
The child Jesus grew in wisdom and age and grace in the eyes of God and of men. Although possessing the Beatific Vision, and consequently all wisdom, knowledge, and grace, yet Jesus deemed it expedient to acquire an experimental knowledge of things, to learn from Joseph and Mary the great truths about religion, and how to apply them to the development of the spiritual life. Jesus was the foundation of all grace. He was knowledge itself; He was wisdom itself; but He chose that His wisdom and knowledge and grace should be manifested gradually. He chose to undergo that laborious education to set the example to all Christian families, to show them that it was only by constant teaching and learning that Christian character could be formed.
The Christian mother, then, assiduously watches for the first dawn of conscience in her child. She knows, or ought to know, that first impressions are the most effective and most lasting. She delights to take her child on her knees and teach it to pray. Her pride is to show her friends how her little one can say the "Our Father" and the "Hail Mary." The time at length comes when the child must be sent to school. There must be no question about the character of the school, it must be Catholic....
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.