May they all have birthdays.
To join the conversation about Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, or to order a copy, go here.
Family life will either be the salvation of America, or the death of it, depending, almost entirely on whether or not American Christians begin living their home lives like the Christians they say they are.
That has long been my opinion about both family life in this country and the future of the country itself. We are imploding as a nation because we have allowed our homes and families to implode along trendy lines.
The authors of Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, have written a simple how-to book for husbands and wives who want to create true Christian family and home for themselves and their children. There is no more important work than the rearing of little children to be strong, Christian adults who can take their place as the shepherds of the next generation after themselves.
That is what parents are: Shepherds of the home. If they fail with their little flock, then nothing else they do in life matters.
Let me repeat that: If you fail in raising your kids, then all the other things that seem so important — career, houses, cars, expensive vacations — all of it is for naught. I don’t believe that God ever created a person for the purpose of having a big house, driving an expensive car and taking lavish vacations. Those things, if they come your way, are the garnishes. They are not life.
Child rearing is becoming a lost art. We are inundated with childcare books for the early years, when things are easy, and a stale silence for the drug-infested, sexual-experimenting later years of childhood, when they are not. Our cultural role models are all about dissolution, parental selfishness, broken homes and designer babies.
True parenting is not about taking. The me-first, kids-are-tough-and-can-take-it philosophy has led us to the where we are today, which is the place where a huge number of our young people are not able or willing to form families and raise children of their own. From the throwaway kids of the inner cities to the trophy children of the rich and shameless, family life has far too often devolved down to a sad manifestation of the narcism of self-satisfying adults.
How are Christians, especially those who were themselves shaped by this malformed and malfunctioning social milieu, going to learn the techniques for raising their kids in a true Christian home?
Possibly, from books like Six Sacred Rules for Families.
This is not an in-depth book. It is rather, a faith-filled starting point. Sue and Tim Muldoon wrote a book that shares both their personal experiences of child-rearing, and the humility they faced in having to accept that they would not have children of their bodies, but would rather adopt children of their hearts. All this is informed by their professional work in the areas of faith formation and counseling.
They built the book around six rules that can get parents started in a dialogue about how best to build a Christian home. The rules are:
If you want to learn what these rules mean, you will have to read the book. I will say that I found number 3, “Our family doesn’t care about success” thought provoking in a personal way. I’ve got some changing to do myself, and reading this book helped me see that.
We’re going to have to be Christian in new ways in this post-Christian society. Perhaps the best way to begin that project is by resurrecting the lost art of Christian homemaking. Six Sacred Rules for Families provides simple direction on how to start down that path.
We owe a great deal to Emilia Kaczorowska.
Emilia Kaczorowska is the mother of Blessed John Paul II. According to a new book, The Mother of the Pope, her doctor advised her to abort the future pope when she was pregnant with him. Evidently, she suffered from the after-affects of rheumatic fever, which often include damage to the heart valves.
In the days before antibiotics, rheumatic fever was fairly common. Damage to the heart valves was treated mostly by bed rest and efforts not to strain the heart. Pregnancy, as anyone knows, puts a strain on the entire body. I would guess that this is what led the doctor to advise abortion to the pope’s mother.
It almost certainly was not a trivial suggestion, and the possible consequences were extreme. It takes courage for anyone to risk their life for another person. That includes mothers who are willing to die for their children.
Emilia Kaczorowska refused the doctor’s advice and gave birth to a baby boy that she and her husband named Karol. She survived the pregnancy, but died nine years later, leaving the little boy without a mother. I’ve often thought that Pope John Paul’s intense closeness to Our Lady may have begun with his longing for the earthly mother he lost when he was a little boy.
Blessed John Paul II was a great pope. Among other things, his fearless stand for the sanctity of human life ennobled and empowered a worldwide resistance to the evils of abortion, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and the many ways in which humanity attacks the dignity and value of those who can’t fight back.
Judging by his mother’s courageous determination to give him life, the apple did not fall far from the tree.
A new report out today suggests Pope John Paul II’s mother rejected an abortion when pregnant with him.
Under the headline “Blessed John Paul II was in danger of not being born,” the Vatican Insider web site says the information was revealed by Milena Kindziuk in the book just came out.
The report suggests that the future Pope John Paul II was in danger of not being born because of the precarious state of health of his mother Emilia Kaczorowska. The book, “The Mother of the Pope,” indicates Emilia Kaczorowska, married in 1905 with Karol Wojtyla, the army of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, rejected an abortion.
Pope Francis made a few comments today on one of my favorite topics: The role of women in the Church.
I think this is an area that needs a little work. My primary concern is the worldwide plague of violence against and exploitation of women. This evil is so endemic that we take it as a given. I have been praying for years that the pope — whoever the pope might be — would address this with the force and uncompromising moral clarity that it deserves.
The Holy Father did not address violence against women today, but he had a lot of other great comments, just the same.
From Catholic News Agency:
Vatican City, Oct 12, 2013 / 08:36 am (CNA/EWTN News).- Pope Francis met with experts on women’s issues today in Rome, affirming that the Church must continue to work for a more profound understanding of women and their roles.
“Also in the Church it is important to ask ourselves: what presence does woman have? Can it be valued more?” the Pope asked.
He met with experts who had participated in a seminar marking the 25th anniversary of Blessed John Paul II’s apostolic letter, “On the Dignity and Vocation of Women.” The two-day seminar was sponsored by the Pontifical Council of the Laity.
Pope Francis said the presence of women in the Church is “a reality that is very much on my heart.” He said he wanted to meet the seminar participants “and bless you and your task.”
He noted that John Paul II’s apostolic letter teaches that “God entrusts man, the human being, to woman in a special way.”
“What does this ‘special entrustment’ mean?” asked Pope Francis.
“I think it is evident that my predecessor refers to motherhood,” he explained. “And this is not simply a biological fact, but it involves a wealth of implications both for woman herself, for her way of being, and for her relationships, for a way of extending respect for human life and for life in general.”
The Pope then warned of two ever-present dangers, “two extreme opposites that degrade woman and her vocation.”
“The first is to reduce motherhood to a social role, to a task, however noble, but in fact sets apart woman with her potential, not fully valuing her in the construction of the community,” he noted.
The second peril is that of “promoting a type of emancipation that, in order to occupy the space stolen by the masculine, abandons the feminine with its priceless elements.”
He said women can help provide better insight into the nature of God.
Ironically, this is also a core need of men.
People need home and family. The deepest fulfillment in life is looking in the face of your own beautiful child.
How did we get so turned around that we think these things are burdens rather than gifts?
Mama, out on the town at her favorite hamburger joint. She made the bead necklace she’s wearing at Adult Day Care — her “Job.”
My mother smoked like a diesel for almost 70 years.
I guess she was lucky.
She didn’t get lung cancer. She never had asthma. But at the ripe old age of 85 or so, she developed COPD.
I’d heard of this disease, which, nearly as I can tell, is basically emphysema with complications and a larger understanding. But I didn’t know a lot about it. I have to admit that now that I’ve been the caregiver for someone who has it, I still don’t know a lot about it.
Extreme old age is tricky.
People this age have an overall feistiness that, when it combines with the lack of memory that goes with dementia, means they can fool you. One of my worst memories of care-giving was the time about a year ago when my mother almost died because I thought that making an appointment with the doc and taking her in the next day would be enough.
As I said, extreme old age is tricky.
They can be doing their “I’m ok,” feisty act one minute and gasping for breath the next.
We’ve had several close calls in which we had to literally pick her up and carry her to the car, then drive the few blocks to the nearest ER (if it had been further, I would have lost her.) But that day was the closest of close calls, and it was, as these things always are if you don’t act quickly enough, complicated by other problems.
Extreme old age is tricky.
Everything in the body is worn out and running on habit. When one thing (breathing) goes wrong, then the old heart starts to beat funny, and when the heart starts to beat funny, the lungs get cloudy, and when the lungs get cloudy, the heart stops being able to do its job, which somehow or other craters into kidney failure.
All in a matter of minutes.
If you don’t get it stopped at the breathing is getting difficult point, it’s like taking that first step out the hatch of the airplane without your parachute. It can take days to get her back ticking again.
That particular night, it was hours of ER close calls and docs who told me they didn’t “like the looks of it” followed by a week in the hospital.
Then Mama came home, feistiness fully intact, and thanks to no-short-term memory, blissfully unaware of most of what had happened. But I remembered. For a while after that, I was taking her to the ER if she coughed twice.
Extreme old age is tricky.
And the primary care-giver is also the first diagnostician. I make a lot of medical calls for my mother, including the all-important when to go to the doc or the ER. That’s dicey for the simple reason that I don’t know what I’m doing. I’ve never dealt with this oddball combination of small child skating along on the ice in an 88-year-old body before.
And she is a small child.
A pampered, spoiled, demanding small child.
The further she gets into the dementia, the more childish she becomes. For instance, she loves for me to take her out for drives.
She loves for me to take her out for drives frequently. In fact, I think she would be happy to have me chauffeur her around all day, every day.
If I’m working on something, she says, “I want you to take me out for a drive now.”
I say, “I’m busy. We’ll do it in a few minutes.”
She looks at me almost exactly like the actor pretending to be a toddler demanding a cookie in Convos with My Two-Year-Old, and repeats “I want you to take me for a drive now.”
She doesn’t quit until I give up and do it.
She goes to Adult Day Care every day. I am going to write in more detail about Adult Day Care. It is a wonderful program. She loves her “job” as she calls it.
She loves it so much that she gets up about 5 every morning and starts announcing that it’s time to “go to work” and she’s going to be late. You can’t turn her off. It’s. Every. Morning.
Even though she loves Adult Day Care, she has a very short attention span. If there’s a lull in the good times, she’ll call me and tell me to come get her. Sometimes, she’ll announce that everybody is just sitting around doing nothing and she wants me to come get her. I remember once when I called the Director of the Day Care Center and told her Mama had called and I was coming to pick her up and she said, “You don’t want to watch the dancers, Mary?”
There were dancers, getting ready to perform, and my elderly toddler got tired of waiting for them to get with it and called for me to come get her. If I’d gone over there, she would have gotten miffed because I stopped her from “having fun” watching the dancers.
If the “I’m bored,” explanation doesn’t move me to come get her, she’ll tell me she’s sick. I always go when she says she’s sick. I don’t have a choice, since there’s no way to know if it’s real or bluff.
In fact, I got one of those calls just a few days ago. Obedient daughter that I am, I drove over, parked the car, went in and got her. As I was guiding her and her cane/jacket/stuffed animal-she’d-won/painting-she’d-made to the car, she told me “I was having fun.” It seems that between the sick call and when I got there, the staff had gotten the fingerpaints out and Mama had gone from too sick to stay to having too much fun to leave.
On the last day of May, the whole town was under threat of the widest tornado in history. As our family gathered around the tv to watch what was happening and decide what to do, Mama kept talking.
She does that.
Talk, I mean.
Non-stop. Just like a toddler. You can’t really have a conversation with her anymore, but she rattles non-stop as long as she’s awake.
I usually just un-huh her the way I did the kids when they were babies.
But we needed to hear the tv.
“Hush,” I told her.
She paused for a beat, then started in, talking about one of the lamps or something.
“Mama,” I said, waiting until she stopped chattering and looked at me, “Hush.”
She stared at me a moment, then turned away. “Well alright. I guess if I can’t say anything, I’ll just be quiet. I don’t know why I can’t talk. But if you want me to just sit here and not say anything, then, I’ll shut up. If that’s what you want, then I guess I’ll have to do it, but I don’t see why I can’t talk
“That lamp shade is crooked. Or maybe it’s made to look like that. No. I think it’s crooked. Mary Belle had a lampshade like that. Only hers was pink. Or maybe it was purple. I want you to take me for a drive …..”
We give her the medicine she’s supposed to have. Then, we watch her swallow it. Otherwise, (for reasons I do not know) she will hide it behind her bed.
We hide her medicine so she can’t find it. Otherwise, (again, for reasons I do not know) she will decide she’s not getting enough and upend the bottle into her mouth.
I give her money to take with her to her “job.” But I can’t give it to her too soon because she will hide it, and then she’ll forget that she hid it and tell me somebody stole it.
She gets lost in the house.
She tells everyone that I “stole” her car from her.
And to this day, if I needed a heart transplant, she would say, “Here. Take mine.”
My Mama. My sweet, baby Mama.
I love her so much it makes my teeth ache.
It is no burden, taking care of my Mama.
It is a blessing and a privilege. I cherish every day with her.
Our corporate media lines up hard against working people. They extol the virtues of the rich and proclaim the necessity of robbing the worker in every situation, from maintaining an unequal tax structure that permits some to pile up great wealth while forcing workers to pay more than the Biblical ten percent on every loaf of bread and gallon of milk they buy.
They yammer constantly about the totally fallacious “necessity” of cutting Social Security or putting it into the stock market where the wealthy can get a bite of it, but they say nothing about the vast corporate welfare and “privatization,” (Which is just a form of graft that attaches corporate profits to the tax base.) that is actually bankrupting the country.
You would think, listening to them, that a living wage was robbery and robbing retirements and social security so that we go back to the practice of putting our elderly people in poor farms was righteousness.
Who are working people?
I believe that would be you and me. And a few others in our past and present. Let’s have a look.
Catholic social teachings have their roots in the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.
One would think, watching this video, that every person, everywhere, would unite with all others behind these teachings. However, Catholic Social Teachings are the reason that the Church is attacked from so many quarters, including, sadly, from the pews and even from behind the altars of its own parishes.
Everyone has someone they want to exploit, abuse or even kill for their own privilege. This impulse is evil from its core, and like all evil it responds to anything that seeks to limit it with anger and rage.
Nothing makes people more angry than telling them that their most precious little sin is, in fact, a sin. Of all the angers I have encountered as an elected official, none is so vicious, hate-filled and unreasoning as the rage of people who are being told they can’t kill or exploit other people they have deemed not human enough to matter.
I think the reason for this is that, by defining other people as not human enough to matter, and taking on themselves to power to kill and exploit them, they have already aligned themselves with the darkness.
And the darkness hates the light, even it is just a flash of the tiniest flame of another person telling them that they are wrong.
This beautiful video describes Catholic Social teaching with colors.
Watch it and pray that Kingdom come, His will be done.
Click here throughout the Year of Faith, as the Catholic Channel at Patheos.com invites Catholics of every age and stripe to share what they are gleaning and carrying away from this gift of timely focus.