I am in reflective mood at present; that is in part a fruit of the Chartres pilgrimage, and in part the result of a recent wedding anniversary (27) and birthday (50). At such moments, one pauses to take stock. So I have been reflecting on one of my fundamental responsibilities as a Catholic Dad: the responsibility to protect my family.

That is right at the heart of the vocation we share as Catholic Dads. And to do that, we need to know what we are protecting them against. Fortunately, we have the Church’s wisdom to draw on, and she identifies three principal enemies against which we must be on our guard: the world, the flesh, and the Devil.

Therefore over the next three weeks, I am going to reflect on each of these, and share what experience I have gleaned over the years, in the hope that it may prove helpful to someone else – or at least start a debate which may prove helpful…

The world is perhaps the least obvious of these enemies. We know from Genesis that the world was created good, so in what sense is it a temptation?

I think a helpful way of approaching this is to consider the word ‘worldly,’ particularly as it contrasts with ‘heavenly.’  Add this to the philosophical insight that all evil is a corruption of good (because God created everything, and created it good) and we can start to make some sense of this.

So the world is a temptation when it is in opposition to the heavenly order; or when its goods are sought in ways that mitigate against our ultimate good.

What does that mean in practice?

One of the tensions many fathers talk about to me is that between their work and their family. Both demand time and energy, and it is sometimes hard to maintain the correct balance. Clearly we have a responsibility to work conscientiously: we have a duty to our employer, to our co-workers, and of course to our families. But sometimes, we may find that we give so much time and energy to our work that we are short-changing our family. That is clearly problematic: and it can be compounded if we subscribe to worldly standards that expect us to value ever-higher wage packets and promotion as the only marks of a successful life.

And that gives us insight into another aspect of this temptation: once we subscribe to worldly values in any part of our life, we risk compromising heavenly ones. There is a huge difference between having a reliable vehicle to get us to work, and having a status symbol in our garage; between making our house comfortable and practical for our family, and having a house designed to compete with the neighbours; or more uncomfortably still, between helping our children to reach their God-given potential, and raising them to be successful in worldly terms…

The pattern is that all these are all goods we may legitimately pursue: a good job, a decent car, a nice home, and successful children; but the minute we make them the principal good on which we focus, we have elevated them beyond their place, and effectively de-throned God in our hearts. That is the great tempation of the world: to see it on its own terms and treat it as the most important thing.

Our kids face similar challenges and our job is to strengthen them to face them – and to teach them to notice them; and above all to seek help in the time of temptation.

For kids, the main manifestation of the world is probably peer pressure, the pressure to conform.  This is communicated by friends and media, especially TV…  So we must train our kids to dare to be different: different enough not only to keep their Faith, but also to be witnesses; but not so different (or so unappealingly different) that they  ineffectual ones!  There’s a real issue of prudence here.

Of course we are required to live well in the world: but always as pilgrims, not as though this is our final destination.

So that’s this week’s challenge: how do we, as Catholic Dads, remain in the world, but not become ‘of the world’? And how do we help our wives and kids to do likewise?

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3 Responses to Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Living in the World…

  1. @goodsaints says:

    Great post! Can't wait to read more.

  2. Pingback: Keeping Your Kids Catholic: Living in the World… « Press Release « catholic-press-releases.info