Book Review: Building Christian Family by the Sacred Rules

To join the conversation about Six Sacred Rules for Families; A Spirituality for the Home, or to order a copy, go here

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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:

  1. God brings our family together on pilgrimage.
  2. Our love for one another leads to joy.
  3. Our family doesn’t care about ‘success.’
  4. God stretches our family toward His Kingdom.
  5. God will help us.
  6. We must learn which desires lead us to freedom. 

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. 

Vocation: Whatever You Do, Do It For the Lord and Don’t Worry About the Consequences

Vocation

 

Today is the beginning of Vocations week.

Many people have a particular vocation. Some people are called to a vowed life as a priest or religious. Others are called to marriage or to create a lay ministry. While these particular vocations are a great gift to all of us, there is a spiritual danger in over-emphasing them. The danger lies in the fact that an over-emphasis on particular vocations can make us forget the first and universal vocation of all Christians.

Whatever we do, if we are Christians, we all have the one overarching vocation of accepting God’s love and living in the light of eternity. We are destined for greater things than whatever we do in the here and now. This life is just a prelude for us. However, it is an important, defining prelude.

Our call as Christians is, first and foremost, to live our lives in the acceptance of His transforming love. Our first job is to say “yes” to the God Who made us, Who died for us and Who calls us to Him until we come home.

I have experienced this call. Every single day of the 17 years of my anti-God period, He called me. It was a pull that never stopped or wavered, no matter what I did or said to the contrary.

Our first and essential vocation as Christians is to simply say “yes” to this call. Our most important vocation is the vocation of beloved children of a loving God.

Everything else flows from that. We are Christians and our first and primary vocation is to let Him love us and to live in the flow of that love. We don’t have to spend hours and days of our lives “discerning God’s will for our lives.”

My experience has been that if God wants you to do something, you’re not going to be able to get out of it. So don’t worry about it.

Who, me?

The God Who called you from death to life can and will call you to any work He has for you. You don’t have to go chasing after Him. He’s right there with you, all the time.

So relax. Accept and believe that living in His love is your vocation. He will use you as He wishes if you just do what He tells you. But first you have to live humbly in that love and walk faithfully in the “yes” you said when you gave yourself to Him.

Your vocation, whether your are a priest, bishop, nun, monk, or housewife, is to live your life and do your deeds as a Christian. If you are an attorney, then your vocation as a Christian is to be an honest, hard-working and generous Christian attorney. If you are a policeman, your job is to never cut corners, never lie, follow the evidence without trying to alter it to fit your ideas, and be an honest, hard-working Christian policeman. Whatever you do, your job, your vocation, is to do the work in front of you as if you were doing it for Christ the Lord, because in fact, you are.

Any job a true Christian puts his or her hand to is a vocation if they do it for the Lord. But the glossiest, most high-profile ministry is dust that blows away with the slightest breeze if they do it for themselves. Our vocation is to live in His love and to follow Him. All the rest will come to us if we do that.

In my opinion, the highest vocation any of us can know is not founding some ministry. It is raising our own children. If you are a father or a mother, then your first vocation in this life is to protect, shape and love the precious lives God has entrusted to you. It is your vocation before God to bring them into a productive and Christian adulthood. If you don’t take care of your own children, nothing else you do in life matters all that much.

Family is eternity work. It is also the dearest blessing in this life.

Today is the first day of vocations week. If you are a Christian, your first and most important vocation is simply letting God love you from death into life. Your second step in that vocation is to follow Him all your days. The third is to do the work that is in front of you in the light of that love and that followership. Whatever you do, do it for the Lord and don’t worry about the consequences. He will take care of that part.

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