What Families Can Do
Come Holy Ghost…
In the previous posting I pointed out what is true and what is false obedience. These were not just my words, but the words of our good Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, of happy memory. Here was a great Catholic prelate who was not only steeped in orthodox Catholic Faith in schools and seminaries, but also from virtual birth within the bosom of a thoroughly Catholic family. It was here that he received his foundation, in not just the teachings of the Faith, but of living the Catholic Faith. From his earliest infancy his family life revolved around Catholic Sacraments, rituals, feasts, and culture. Therefore, he can speak with authority, not only as an Archbishop, but as a child of God from a strong Catholic family. Hear his words, which I reprint in entirety from his book, entitled: Open Letter to Confused Catholics, Chapter XXII; What Families Can Do:
It is high time to react. When Gaudium et Spes speaks of the movement of history “becoming so rapid that everybody finds it hard to follow,” we can take this as meaning the headlong rush of liberal society into disaggregation and chaos. We must take care not to follow!
One cannot understand how the leaders can claim to be of the Christian religion whilst destroying all authority within the State. On the contrary, it is important to re-establish this authority which is prescribed by Providence in the two natural societies of divine right, the family and civil society, whose influence here below is fundamental. In recent times it is the family that has suffered the hardest blows. The changeover to Socialism in countries like France and Spain has only speeded up the process.
The ensuing legal measures demonstrate a great cohesion in their determination to ruin the institution of the family; the reducing of parental authority, easy divorce, the disappearance of responsibility in the procreative act, the legal recognition of irregular unions and even of homosexual couples, juvenile cohabitation, trial marriage, the reduction of financial and social assistance to large families, etc… The State itself in its own interests is beginning to see the effects of this in the declining birth rate, and wonders how in the near future the rising generations will be able to maintain the pensions of those who are no longer economically active. But the effects are considerably more serious in the spiritual field.
Catholics must not follow, but as citizens they must bring all their weight to bear to put right what is needed. This is why they may not remain aloof from politics. However, their endeavors will be most effective in the upbringing they give their children.
On the subject, authority is contested at its very source by those who declare, “Parents are not the owners of their children,” by which they mean that their education reverts to the State with its schools, its day nurseries and its kindergarten schools. They reproach parents with failing to respect the “freedom of conscience” of their children when they bring them up in accordance with their own religious convictions.
These ideas can be traced back to the seventeenth-century English philosophers who maintained that men are separate individuals, independent from birth, all equal and free from all authority. We know that to be false. The child receives everything from his father and his mother, all nourishment–bodily, intellectual, educational, moral and social. Parents are aided in this by teachers, who in the children’s minds share their authority, but whether it be from either or both of them, almost all the learning they obtain during their youth will be received and accepted, rather than gathered by observation and personal experience. A considerable part of knowledge comes from the authority who passes it on. The pupil has confidence in his parents, in his teachers and in his books and thereby his knowledge grows.
This is even more true of religious knowledge, of religious practice, of moral training in conformity with the faith, with tradition, and customs. Men generally live by following family traditions, as can be observed throughout the whole world. Conversion to another religion from that received during childhood presents serious difficulties.
This extraordinary influence of the family and background was intended by God. He willed that His blessings should first of all be passed on by the family. This is the reason why He gives to the father of a family such great authority and power over his family, his wife and his children. A child is born in such extreme weakness that we can appreciate the absolute need for the stability and indissolubility of the home.
To want to exalt a child’s personality and consciousness to the detriment of parental authority is ruinous for him, driving him to revolt and to despise his parents, whereas long life is promised to those who honor their parents. Saint Paul, in reminding us of this, makes it a duty for fathers not to exasperate their sons, but to bring them up in the discipline and fear of the Lord.
If we had to there would be very few Christians today. We believe the truths of religion because its witnesses wait to receive an understanding of religious truth before believing and conversion, are worthy of belief by their holiness, their unselfishness and their charity. As Saint Augustine says, faith gives understanding.
The role of parents has become very difficult. As we have seen, the majority of Catholic schools have in effect become secular. The true religion is no longer taught in them, nor even the natural sciences in the light of the faith. The catechisms spread Modernism. The hectic style of modern living leaves no spare time and professional obligations separate parents and children from the grandfathers and grandmothers who before used to help with their upbringing. Catholics are now not only confused but also defenseless.
Not to such an extent, however, that they cannot provide the essentials, the grace of God making up what lacks. What must be done? Truly Catholic schools do exist, though few in number. Send your children to them even if it is a financial burden. Open new schools, as others have already done. If you are only able to use schools where the teaching has been distorted, then you must complain and demonstrate against it; do not allow the teachers to cause your children to lose their faith.
Read and re-read as a family the Catechism of Trent, the finest, the soundest and the most complete. Organize “parallel catechism classes” under the spiritual direction of good priests, do not be afraid of being called, like us “rebel.” Moreover, there are already numerous groups operating who would welcome your children.
Throw out the books that carry Modernist poison. Seek advice. There are courageous publishers printing excellent works and re-printing those destroyed by the Modernists. Do not buy just any Bible; every Catholic family ought to have a faithful translation of the Vulgate, the Latin version made by Saint Jerome in the fourth century and canonized by the Church.
Hold on to the true interpretation of the Scriptures, keep to the true Mass and the Sacraments such as were formerly administered everywhere. At the present time the devil is assailing the Church: that is the fact of the matter. We are witnessing perhaps one of his last battles, an all-out battle. He is attacking on all fronts; and if Our Lady of Fatima said that one day he would penetrate to the highest positions of the Church, we must believe that could happen. Personally, I am alleging nothing, yet there are signs which could make us think that in the highest administrative bodies in Rome there are men who have lost their faith.
Urgent spiritual remedies must be applied. We must pray and do penance, as the Blessed Virgin has requested, and say the Rosary together in the family. As we have seen during each war, people begin to pray together when the bombs begin to fall. In exactly the same way, they are falling at this moment; we are on the brink of losing faith. Do you realize that that would surpass in seriousness every catastrophe feared by man, such as world economic crisis or atomic warfare?
Renewal is absolutely necessary; but you must not assume that you cannot count on the young for that. The whole of youth is not corrupted, as some try to convince us. Many of them hold an ideal; for many others it would be enough to offer them one. There are boundless examples of movements that have successfully appealed to their generosity; those monasteries faithful to Tradition are drawing them, and there is no lack of vocations from young seminarians or novices wanting to be accepted. There is a magnificent undertaking to be accomplished in conformity with the instructions given by the Apostles, “Tenete traditiones. Permanete in iis quae didicistis.” “Keep the traditions. Stand fast in those things which you have learned” (II Thessalonions 2:14).
The old world called upon to disappear is the world advocating abortion. Families who are faithful to Tradition are also large families and their very faith ensures their posterity. “Increase and multiply!” By keeping to what the Church has always taught you will ensure the future.
What more can be said, other than to read and re-read the two books of His Grace Archbishop Lefebvre: Open letter to Confused Catholics, and They Have Uncrowned Him. Make these the touchstone to reconnect with the traditional Catholic Faith in all her beauty. Pray the Rosary for the Consecration of Russia to the Immaculate Heart of Mary; she is our last best hope.
Richard of Danbury, D.S.G.