"And I beheld, and heard the voice of one eagle flying through the midst of heaven,
saying with a loud voice: Woe, woe, woe to the inhabitants of the earth....
[Apocalypse (Revelation) 8:13]

Monday, April 16, 2018

The Duties of Parents by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

The Duties of Parents
by Bishop Ehrler, 1891

"I am the Good Shepherd." --(John 10 : 1.)

The Pharisees continually and blasphemously assailed our Saviour's teachings on the ground that he had no authority to institute a new doctrine. 

They held fast to the law of Moses; and, although the divine Law-giver Himself, (who confirmed His teachings by miracles rather than by words), was present among them, they cast him forth from the synagogue as a violator of the law. In the present Gospel, our Saviour deigned to explain clearly to them the source of His high vocation. Since those presumptuous men constantly endeavored to turn against him the words of the inspired Writers, he proves to them from the sacred Scripture that he is really the Good Shepherd of whom God predicted by the voice of the prophet: "I will set up one shepherd over them; and he shall feed them." (Ezech. 34 : 23.) As clear as the noon-day sun He reveals to them, in His own person, all the qualifications of a Good Shepherd. The office of a good shepherd is one of trust, of tenderness, of devotion, and self-sacrifice--yea, even unto death. "The Good Shepherd giveth his life for his sheep." Such an office is analogous to that of a parent; and hence, on this occasion, I shall explain to you that every head of a household, as a good shepherd, must feed his family,

I. By his prayers;
II. By his admonitions; and
III. By his example.

Our Saviour after His resurrection repeated three times to St. Peter, "Feed my sheep," as though to say: Feed them with spiritual food-- with words and with works. This charge which was given to St. Peter as the chief shepherd of souls, our Lord repeats to all who are in authority, either spiritually or temporally.

I. No matter how vigilant or careful the head of the house may be, it will avail little without the blessing of God. "Unless the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it." (Ps. 126 : 1.) His family and servants may be as faithful to him as possible, and yet they may not be able to protect his property. "Unless the Lord keep the city, he watcheth in vain that keepeth it." (Ps. 126 : 21.) What, then, is the parent's surest safeguard and defense? Prayer. "Ask and you shall receive." Hence, the Apostle admonishes us, before all things, to pray. In order to show that this command is addressed chiefly to fathers and mothers, he adds: "I will, therefore, that men pray in every place, lifting up pure hands, without anger and strife. In like manner women." (1 Tim. 2:8.) As all are bound to seek first the kingdom of God, so, also, the head of the family is obliged to pray first for the spiritual, and afterwards for the temporal welfare of his household. Job, who "was simple, and upright, and fearing God and avoiding evil, rose up early and offered holocausts for every one of his sons. And why? Lest perhaps they might have sinned. "So did Job all days." (Job 1 : 1-5.) Would that all fathers imitated Job in this practice of daily and most fervent prayer! The fold of every Catholic home would then possess a good shepherd and every Catholic child a good Christian father.

II. In the Lord's Prayer we say: "Give us this day our daily bread." From our youth up we have been taught that this petition refers not only to the material food of the body, but, much more, to the interior food of the soul. In like manner the father of a family is bound to provide for the spiritual even more than for the temporal nourishment of his dependents. To him the divine command to Israel is applicable. "Set your heart on all the words I testify to you this day; which you shall command your children to observe and to do, and to fulfil all that is written in this law: for they are not commanded you in vain, but that every one should live in them." (Deut. 32 :46.) And: "Bring up your children in the discipline and correction of the Lord" (Ephes. 6 :4), that is, instruct them by precepts, and if these do not secure obedience, administer corporal punishment, for it is written, " Withold not correction from a child, for if thou strike him with the rod he shall not die." (Prov. 23 : 13.) A good father requires not only his children, but also every other inmate of his house to live in discipline; on which account St. Paul says: "Servants, obey your carnal masters, with fear and trembling, in the simplicity of your heart, as Christ." (Ephes. 6 : 5.) Alas! how many heads of families are more concerned about their cattle than they are about the salvation of their servants and dependents! How many are more careful of their swine than of their sons! Truly these are not good shepherds!

III. But prayers and admonitions will be of little account if the master or mistress does not set a good example to the family. In every case example is far more powerful than words. Woe to you, fathers, woe to you, mothers, if your example tends rather to scandalize than edify those under your care! Hirelings you are then, who live as if the sheep were none of your concern; and who, instead of driving off the infernal wolf, become yourselves wolves, which prey upon and destroy the unhappy sheep and lambs. Remember that "a most severe judgment shall be for them that bear rule." (Wis. 6 :6.) The misguided and scandalized souls which God intrusted to your parental care will be required at your hands on the awful day of reckoning. Even in this world you and your children will suffer punishment, because you have offended Him who says: "I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, into the third and fourth generations of them that hate me." (Exod. 10 : 5.) "God shall lay up the sorrow of the father for his children," says holy Job, "and when He shall repay, then shall he (the father) know. His eyes shall see his own destruction, and he shall drink of the wrath of the Almighty." (Job 21: 29.)

Christian parents, do not these considerations move you? Have you all along faithfully performed the duties of good shepherds? Are you hirelings, or, perhaps, devouring wolves? Listen! Our Saviour, as the Good Shepherd, says: "I am come that they may have life and may have it more abundantly." (John 10 : 10.) Imitate His glorious example; be solicitous for the supernatural life of your flock; feed them daily and zealously by your fervent prayers, by your admirable instructions, by your pious and edifying example, so that they may have life, superabundant life. Fixing your eyes ever upon your divine model. Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd, beg him to aid you in guiding your little flock through all the dangers of body and soul which beset them in this thorny wilderness, called Life; and when difficulties and trials environ your households, and you seem to behold the hard, unbroken wall of adverse circumstances closing in and around you and your children, hearken to the sweet, consoling voice of the Good Shepherd calling to you: "I am the door. If any one enter by Me, he shall be saved; and he shall go in and go out, and shall find pasture"--yea, even the beautiful and fadeless pastures of eternal life.--Amen.

Parents Must Guard the Flock of their Children
by the Priests of the Congregation of St. Paul, 1893

"I am the Good Shepherd: I know mine."--St. John x. 14.

Our Divine Lord, my dear brethren, not only asserts that He is "the Good Shepherd," but also proves Himself to be so by the care and solicitude which He has for the well-being of His flock. He spared no pain, no labor, in His watchful care over His sheep, and finally shed the last drop of His Blood in their defence, leaving an example to those who are likewise shepherds in their own sphere. St. Augustine says that parents are shepherds in their houses, and that they must have the same care for their children that a shepherd has for his flock. They, like the Good Shepherd, must know and feed their sheep, protect them from the wolves, and go before, leading them in the right way. Parents, you must realize that the sheep entrusted to your care are spiritual beings, that they have souls, that they are images of God, created by God the Father, redeemed by God the Son, and sanctified by the Holy Spirit, and that, in heaven or hell, they shall continue to live for ever. Stainless and bright in baptismal purity are these sheep when placed in your hands to be led to their inheritance of the kingdom of heaven.

In order that you may be good shepherds you must know your children. Know them interiorly, what their dispositions are, what they wish, desire, and aim at; what troubles they have, what they need, what is good or evil, expedient or injurious to them, what their faults and defects are, whether they are inclined to this or that vice, that evil habits may not be allowed to grow up and take root in them. "Hast thou children," says sacred Scripture, "instruct them and bow down their neck from their childhood." You must instruct your children in the truths of religion. Impress upon them the end for which they were created. Speak to them ot the future life, of the eternal happiness or the eternal misery which awaits us--a heaven full of joy or a hell full of suffering. Speak to them of God's knowledge, who knows and sees all things; of God's justice, who leaves no good unrewarded and no evil unpunished. Instruct and warn them regarding all things appertaining to salvation. Let the words uttered by Tobias, when on his death-bed, be re-echoed in every household: "Hear, my son, the words of my mouth, and lay them as a foundation in thy mind, and take heed thou never consent to sin nor transgress the commandments of the Lord our God. Never suffer pride to reign in thy mind or in thy words, for from it all perdition took its beginning. See thou never do to another what thou wouldst hate to have done to thee by another. Eat thy bread with the hungry and needy. Bless God at all times, and desire of Him to direct thy ways and that all thy counsels may abide in Him. Fear not, my son; we indeed lead a poor life, but we shall have many good things if we fear God, and depart from all sin, and do that which is good."

You must protect your children from the wolves. Know who their companions are. Watch over them that no wolf in sheep's clothing may enter amongst the flock, that none of the flock may stray into the wolf's den of the dance-hall, the publichouse, or any of the other miscalled places of amusement. Be not like the hireling who leaveth the sheep and flieth when he seeth the wolf coming.

You, like good shepherds, must go before your flock leading it in the right way. Children are taught far more by example than by words. You yourselves must be virtuous and God-fearing, diligent in the practice of your Christian duties. Do you go punctually to Confession, or are you slothful and careless, and put off for a year, or years, the worthy reception of Holy Communion? Are all your acts influenced by the consciousness of God's presence? Are you just and forgiving in your transactions with others? Are you solicitous to perform good works, works of charity, of mercy? Would you have your children live according to the dictates of their holy faith? Then set them good example and they are sure to walk in your footsteps. '' If any man have not care of his own, and especially those of his house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."