- In the ancient Israel, the family was the foundation of society. As families stressed tradition, they contributed towards the stability of society.
- The family was determined to be faithful to Yahweh. “These words which I –the Lord God—command you should be in your heart and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk to them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise (Deut 6:2-7).
- A Jewish father felt the moral obligation to transmit the deposit of faith entrusted to him. This transmission is essential for the family’s prosperity and happiness.
- Families were converted to Christianity through the father’s conversion: “he believed and all his household” (Jn 4:53).
- There are abundant examples of the sense of the responsibility of the early Christian families to transmit the faith in the family, with high aspirations to holiness. There is perhaps no better model for a Christian couple.
- These families were small Christian communities, centers for spreading the Gospel. They were the domestic Church. When they teach their children, it is the Church that teaches.
- The first Christians gave very clear witness to 3 important truths:
- The purpose of marriage is to help married people to sanctify themselves and others…Christian couples should be aware that they are called to be apostles and that their first apostolate is in the home…The effectiveness and success of their life –their happiness—depends on to a great extent on their awareness of their specific mission.
- Through their parents, children learn to put God first and foremost in their affections.
- A child easily “captures” what is transmitted to him through the bonds of affection he has with his parents (also stressed by educators like Piaget, Baldwin and Bovet).
- Thus, one of St. Josemaria’s pastoral intuitions has spread widely: schools that work closely with parents efforts to educate their children and in which parents continue to exercise the role of principal educators.
- Be friends with your children. All true education is based on a relationship of friendship between child and educator. This might seem to be a key pedagogical technique, but in reality this is charity, love, the very core of our new life in Christ.
I. Education in Holiness
- Without this grace, it is impossible and absurd to educate sinful man in morals.
- St. Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians is the Magna Carta for Christian educators. Christian life goes beyond a simple observance of precepts or moral codes. “My children, with whom I am again in travail until Christ is formed in you.” (Gal 4:19). This is holiness.
Parents should (1) transmit the truths of the Catholic faith and (2) guide their children towards the means of sanctification provided by the Church. Nevertheless, parents teach their children mainly by their conduct.
- Jesus teaches how important prayer is for attaining sanctity. If you don’t make the boys men of prayer, you have wasted your time.
- The meaning of true piety should be taught first by example and then by word.
- It is important not to lose these wonderful traditions of family prayer, but don’t impose them. Let your children see you preserving them with affection. They should know when the rosary is said each day; and they will end up joining you. Tell each one separately: Look, this custom of ours is centuries old and ought to be continued because it pleases our Lady very much, and God is very pleased by it and blesses us. But say it when you want, with complete freedom.
- To foster union with God, the only path is based on freedom. You can’t force your older children to fulfill their religious obligations…Because, even though they are physically present at church, if they don’t want to be there, they won’t really be at Mass. But parents should tell their children what is wrong (e.g. it is a grave sin not to go to Mass on a Sunday).