Seventh Sunday after Pentecost.—On the Education of Children.
PRAYER BEFORE MEDITATION.
My God, I firmly believe that Thou art here present. I acknowledge that on account of my many sins I am utterly unworthy to appear before Thy sacred countenance. Yet, confiding in Thy infinite goodness and mercy, I venture to address Thee, to call upon Thy holy name, and meditate upon Thy commandments, in order that I may acquire a better knowledge of Thy holy will, and accomplish it with more fidelity. Wherefore enlighten my understanding that I may perceive what I ought to do or leave undone for the promotion of Thy glory and my own salvation; at the same time excite my will, that I may repent with my whole heart of my past sins, and resolve for the future to do all that Thou requirest of me. Grant me above all to know Jesus, my divine Teacher and Guide, more clearly, that I may love Him more dearly, and consequently labor, struggle and suffer with greater generosity and self-sacrifice in imitation of His example. Holy Mary, Mother of God and my Mother, show Jesus to me now, and let me study thy divine Son to the salvation of my soul. Holy Guardian Angel, keep far from me all distracting thoughts; my patron saint, come to my assistance. Amen.
“A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can an evil tree bring forth good fruit.” Matt. vii. 18.
Then the gospel of this day tells us, that a good plant cannot produce bad fruit, and that a bad one cannot produce good fruit. Learn from this, brethren, that a good father brings up good children. But, if parents be wicked, how can the children be virtuous? Have you ever, says the Redeemer, in the same gospel, seen grapes gathered from thorns, or figs from thistles? “Do men gather grapes from thorns, or figs from thistles?” (v. 16.) And, in like manner, it is impossible, or rather very difficult, to find children virtuous, who are brought up by immoral parents. Fathers and mothers, be attentive to this sermon, which is of great importance to the eternal salvation of yourselves and of your children. Be attentive, young men and young women, who have not as yet chosen a state of life. If you wish to marry, learn this day the obligations which you can contract with regard to the education of your children; and learn also that, if you do not fulfil them, you shall bring yourselves and all your children to damnation. I shall divide this sermon into two points. In the first, I shall show how important it is to bring up children in habits of virtue; and in the second, I shall show with what care and diligence a parent ought to labour to bring them up well.
First Point.—How very important it is to bring up children in habits of virtue.
1. A father owes two obligations to his children; he is bound to provide for their corporal wants, and to educate them in habits of virtue. It is not necessary at present to say more on the first obligation, than that there are some fathers more cruel than the most ferocious of wild beasts; for these do not forget to nourish their offspring; but certain parents squander away in eating and drinking, and gaming, all their property, or all the fruits of their industry, and allow their children to die of hunger. But let us come to the education, which is the subject of my discourse.
2. It is certain that a child’s future good or ill conduct depends on his being brought up well or ill. Nature itself teaches every parent to attend to the education of his offspring. He who has given them being ought to endeavour to make life useful to them. God gives children to parents, not that they may assist the family, but that they may be brought up in the fear of God, and be directed in the way of eternal salvation. “We have,” says St. Chrysostom, “a great deposit in children; let us attend to them with great care.” (Hom, ix., in 1 ad Tit.) Children have not been given to parents as a present, which they may dispose of as they please, but as a trust, for which, if lost through their negligence, they must render an account to God. The Scripture tells us, that when a father observes the divine law, both he and his children shall prosper. “That it may be well with thee and thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is pleasing in the sight of God.” (Deut. xii. 25.) The good or ill conduct of a parent may be known, by those who have not witnessed it, from the life which his children lead. “For by the fruit the tree is known.” (Matt. xii. 33.) “A father,” says Ecclcsiasticus, “who leaves a family, when he departs this life, is as if he had not died; because his sons remain, and exhibit his habits and character. His father is dead, and he is as if he were not dead; for he hath left one behind him that is like himself.” (Eccl. xxx. 4.) When we find a son addicted to blasphemies, to obscenities, and to theft, we have reason to suspect that such too was the character of the father. “For a man is known by his children.” (Eccl. xi. 30.)
3. Hence Origen says, that on the day of judgment parents shall have to render an account for all the sins of their children. “Omnia quæcumque delinquerint filii, a parentibus requiruntur.” (Orig., Lib. 2, in Job.) Hence, he who teaches his son to live well, shall die a happy and tranquil death. “He that teacheth his son …when he died he was not sorrowful, neither was he confounded.” (Eccl. xxx. 3, 5.) And he shall save his soul by means of his children; that is, by the virtuous education which he has given them. “She shall be saved through child-bearing.” (1 Tim. ii. 15.) But, on the other hand, a very uneasy and unhappy death shall be the lot of those who have laboured only to increase the possessions, or to multiply the honours of their family; or who have sought only to lead a life of ease and pleasure, but have not watched over the morals of their children. St. Paul says, that such parents are worse than infidels. “But if any man have not care of his own, and especially of those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” (1 Tim. v. 8.) “Were fathers or mothers to lead a life of piety and continual prayer, and to communicate every day, they should be damned if they neglected the care of their children. Would to God that certain parents paid as much attention to their children as they do to their horses! How careful are they to see that their horses are fed and well trained! And they take no pains to make their children attend at catechism, hear Mass, or go to Confession. “We take more care.” says St. Chrysostom, “of our mules and horses, than of the children.” (Hom, x., in Matt.)
4. If all fathers fulfilled their duty of watching over the education of their children, we should have but few crimes and few executions. By the bad education which parents give to their offspring, they cause their children, says St. Chrysostom, to rush into many grievous vices; and thus they deliver them up to the hands of the executioner. “Majoribus illos malis involvimus, et carnificum manibus damus.” (Sem, xx., de divers.) Hence, in Lacedemon, a parent, as being the cause of all the irregularities of his children, was justly punished for their crimes with greater severity than the children themselves. Great indeed is the misfortune of the child that has vicious parents, who are incapable of bringing up their children in the fear of God, and who, when they see their children engaged in dangerous friendships and in quarrels, instead of correcting and chastising them, rather take compassion on them, and say: “What can be done? They are young; they must take their course.” Oh! what wicked maxims! what a cruel education! Do you hope that when your children grow up they shall become saints? Listen to what Solomon says: “A young man, according to his way, even when he is old, he will not depart from it.” (Prov. xxii. 6.) A young man who has contracted a habit of sin will not abandon it even in his old age. “His bones,” says Job, “shall be filled with the vices of his youth, and they shall sleep with him in the dust.” (Job xx. 11.) When a young person has lived in evil habits, his bones shall be filled with the vices of his youth, so that he will carry them with him to death; and the impurities, blasphemies, and hatred to which he was accustomed in his youth, shall accompany him to the grave, and shall sleep with him after his bones shall be reduced to dust and ashes. It is very easy, when they are small, to train up children to habits of virtue; but, when they have come to manhood, it is equally difficult to correct them, if they have learned habits of vice. But, let us come to the second point—that is, to the means of bringing up children in the practice of virtue. I entreat you, fathers and mothers, to remember what I now say to you; for on it depends the eternal salvation of your own souls, and of the souls of your children.
PRAYER AFTER MEDITATION.
My God, I give Thee heartfelt thanks for all the graces and all the light Thou hast conferred on me during this meditation. Pardon me all the negligence and the distractions of which I have been guilty, and give me strength to carry out the resolutions that I have made. Fortify me, that from henceforth I may diligently practise this virtue . . . avoid this fault . . . perform this action . . . to Thy honor. Help me to do this, sweet Virgin Mary; and if I ever forget my good resolutions, I entreat my Angel Guardian to recall them to my memory. Amen.
Of avoiding Rash Judgement.
II. But there is often something lies hid within, or occurs from without, which draws us along with it.
Many secretly seek themselves in what they do, and are not sensible of it.
They seem also to continue in good peace, when things are done according to their will and judgment: but if it fall out contrary to their desires, they are soon moved and become sad.
Difference of thoughts and opinions is too frequently the source of dissensions amongst friends and neighbours, amongst religious and devout persons.–Thomas à Kempis–Imitation of Christ Bk I, Ch XIV pt II.
July Devotion: The Precious Blood of Jesus
Virtues to practice: Simplicity, faith, liberty of spirit, cheerfulness
Prayers in honor of the Most Precious Blood of Jesus.
Most merciful Jesus, lover of souls! I pray Thee, by the agony of Thy most Sacred Heart, and by the sorrows of Thy Immaculate Mother, wash in Thy Blood the sinners of the whole world who are now in their agony, and who are to die this day. Amen.
Heart of Jesus, once in agony, pity the dying.
100 days indul.—Pius IX., Feb. 1850.
“May Thy Blood, shed for us, O Lord Jesus Christ, obtain for me the remission of all my sins, my negligences, my ignorance; may It strengthen, increase and preserve within me, Faith, Hope, Charity, Grace, and every virtue, may It bring me to everlasting life; may It deliver the souls of my parents and of all those for whom I am bound to pray.”
—St. Catharine of Sienna.
O blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my soul to purify it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my heart to inflame it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my mind to enlighten it. O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my thoughts to elevate them! O Blood of my crucified Jesus, dwell in my every action to sanctify them; in every power and faculty of my being, that all within me may exalt Thy might, proclaim Thy benefits and publish Thy mercies!
Praises to the Precious Blood.
Glory be to Jesus!
Who in bitter pains,
Poured for me the life Blood,
From His sacred veins.
Grace and life eternal
In that Blood I find;
Blessed be His compassion,
Blessed through endless ages
Be the precious stream,
Which from endless torment
Doth the world redeem.
There the fainting spirit
Drinks of life her fill;
There, as in a fountain
Laves herself at will.
O the Blood of Christ!
It soothes the Father’s ire,
Opes the gates of heaven,
Quells eternal fire.
Abel’s blood for vengeance
Pleaded to the skies;
But the Blood of Jesus
For our pardon cries.
Oft as it is sprinkled
On our guilty hearts,
Satan in confusion,
Oft as earth exulting
Wafts its praise on high,
Hell with terror trembles.
Heaven is filled with joy.
Lift ye then your voices,
Swell the mighty flood
Louder still and louder,
Praise the Precious Blood!
(100 days indulgence once a day.— Pius VII. , Oct. 1815.)
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