Newspaper Archive of
The Message
Evansville, Indiana
October 3, 1997     The Message
PAGE 8     (8 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
 
PAGE 8     (8 of 16 available)        PREVIOUS     NEXT      Full Size Image
October 3, 1997
 

Newspaper Archive of The Message produced by SmallTownPapers, Inc.
Website © 2019. All content copyrighted. Copyright Information.     Terms Of Use.     Request Content Removal.




The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana October 3, How to wear the parent's many hats well By MARY MILLER PEDERSEN Catholic News Service At a daughter's piano recital parents are her greatest fans. But they become coach- es from the sidelines when she's booting the soccer ball down field for a goal. Parents are teachers when a child takes that first drive in the car. They're disci- plinarians when the first speeding ticket arrives. Then there are the trips to the shoe store, grocery and shopping mall where Morn and Dad become the providers (alias: Mr. and Mrs. Moneybags). Parents are children's companions for quiet Saturday mornings fishing from the dock. And during the awkward years (a-round 2, 12 and 20), Morn and Dad play "cheerleader," encouraging and guiding kids as they learn new skills and struggle with self-confidence. The different faces of parenting can be overwhelming and confusing at times. Parents find themselves constantly putting their own needs (for affirmation, control, a new pickup truck or coat) aside in order to provide the guidance or com- panionship a child needs. Parenting is a full-time, lifetime job! That's why the church calls marriage and family a vocation, which means a calling to holiness. Do you tend to think of holiness in terms of a Joan of Arc, who was burned at the stake, or Francis of Assisi, who left a wealthy h.ome and family to live in poverty? (/:here are dayswhen I'm in the car pool for school, the swimming pool for lessons and the toilet bowl for house- cleaning m that a few minutes at the stake sound much easier!) Certainly, heroic acts of bravery and years of quiet prayer and asceticism are noble pathways to heaven. But in recent years leaders in the Catholic tradition have begun to write about other avenues through which the Spirit of God leads us believers to sainthood. One example is from a 1993 U.S. bishops' letter titled "Follow the Way of Love": "The profound and the ordinary moments of daily life, mealtimes, work- days, vacations, expressions of love and intimacy, chores, caring for a sick child or elderly parents, handling conflicts or disciplining children -- all are the threads from which you can weave a pat- tern of holiness." Whenever we who are parents establish rules for a child and enforce them (some- times against tremendous pressure), or put aside our own agenda to go out and play ball (when we are exhausted), we are following the way of parental love. As the bishops' letter to families says: "What you do in your family to create a community of love, to help each other to grow and to serve those in need is criti- cal, not only for your own sanctification but for the strength of society and our ,church. It is a participation in the work of the Lord, a sharing in the mission of the church. It is holy" ("Follow the Way of Love," NCCB, 1993). It's time for parents to take their notion of holiness off the plaster pedestal and the holy card. There's a place for that kind of sanctity, and it remains a respected tradi- tion and source of rich spirituality in our lives. But for most of us who have chosen the parenting vocation, God is calling us to follow the way of love every day. What is complicated and sometimes confusing, however, is the fact that par- ents follow the way of love by making their way through a maze of different roles that are theirs: by being teacher and guide, disciplinarian and companion, coach, provider, nurse and source of sta- bility to children. Father Edward Hays calls it "home- made" holiness. And Jesus Christ gave us a model for how to do it in his ordinary Godly actions of feeding the hungr cloth- ing the naked, forgiving the sinner and instructing the lowly. That's exactly what parents do every day in switching from one role to another at home. Single parents and immigrant !ili!ii!iiiiiiiiiiiiii@!iiii!i i I i: "Parents follow the way of love by making their way through a maze of different roles that are theirs: by being teacher and guide, discipli- narian and companion, coach, provider, nurse and source ity to children," says Mary Pedersen. CNS photo by Bill families have a special challenge in this regard. Many are heroic in their commit- ment to adapt to the needs of their chil- dren in new circumstances. I think most good parents who are real- ly trying will not have to pass go or col- lect $200, but will go straight to when they die. Despite our toward selfishness and fatigue wanting to give up some days, recommit ourselves to loving See HATS Wisdom for families from Sirach By FATHER JOHN J. CASTELOT Catholic News Service Jesus ben Sira spent a lifetime acquir- ing wisdom. A devout Jew, he read and reflected on the Scriptures, but he was not an "ivory tower" scholar. This ancient thinker traveled widely and observed keenly, and his wisdom was of the practical sort. Like the rest of Israel's sages, nothing of human interest or importance escaped him. He carefully noted what sort of con- duct brought people happiness and what brought them sadness. He thought this knowledge valuable enough to share and wrote a book in his native language, Hebrew. His grandson decided the book deserved wider publi- cation and translated it into the vernac- ular of the day, Greek. The name of the translator's grandfa- ther in Greek is "Sirach." We learn from the "translator's preface" to what is one of the Old Testament books that Sirach's interests were as wide as his travels. Sir- ach gave advice on an amazing variety of subjects. His book was so practical a guide to living that the early church made abun- dant use of it when instructing those about to be baptized. This earned for it the title "Liber ecclesiasticus," the church's book; it long was known by this title. A subject of universal interest -- then as now -- was child rearing. You might enjoy hearing some of what this biblical writer thought about parenthood's chal- lenges. A basic principle of his was the impor- tance of parental discipline -- keeping a rein on children. Giving children everything they want also is not very loving, he advised. Sirach observed that "he who educates his son makes his enemy jealous and shares his delight in him among his friends." And Sirach felt that well-behaved chil- dren provide a sort of "immortality" for their parents. "At a father's death, he will not seem dead, since he leaves after him one like himself." In Sirach's view, "he who spoils his son (would) have wounds to bandage .... Pamper your child and he will be a ter- ror for you." Of course, there are different ways to discipline children; the approach.of one culture or one time in history may not work in another. In Sirach's time physi- cal punishment was generally accept- able. "Bend him to the yoke when he is young, thrash his sides while he is still small," he wrote. Those words have a startling sound today, when most experts agree that such discipline is not .the best. We have become painfully, and rive to the horror of child abuse. The basic need for discipline however, a common thread ents of biblical times with It is a challenge parents must meet with loving wisdom. Father Castelot is a author, teacher and lecturer. ,, Raising, But it  never  harder. Are the many roles a asked to fulfill in a child's threads from which "At Confirmation, gifts of the Spirit, to move from one another and from, i: