Intro overview: we're going to cover a lot of territory. An introduction to a variety of disciplines that incorporate beautifully into family life, but starting off with one or two is probably the best way to go.
Single note responsorial chant: intro.
1 Cry out full-throated and unsparingly,
lift up your voice like a trumpet blast;
Proclaim to my people their transgression,
to the house of Jacob their sins.
2 They seek me day after day,
and desire to know my ways,
Like a nation that has done what is just
and not abandoned the judgment of their God;
They ask of me just judgments,
they desire to draw near to God.
3 “Why do we fast, but you do not see it?
afflict ourselves, but you take no note?”
See, on your fast day you carry out your own pursuits,
and drive all your laborers.
4 See, you fast only to quarrel and fight
and to strike with a wicked fist!
Do not fast as you do today
to make your voice heard on high!
5 Is this the manner of fasting I would choose,
a day to afflict oneself?
To bow one’s head like a reed,
and lie upon sackcloth and ashes?
Is this what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD?
6 Is this not, rather, the fast that I choose:
releasing those bound unjustly,
untying the thongs of the yoke;
Setting free the oppressed,
breaking off every yoke?
7 Is it not sharing your bread with the hungry,
bringing the afflicted and the homeless into your house;
Clothing the naked when you see them,
and not turning your back on your own flesh?
8 Then your light shall break forth like the dawn,
and your wound shall quickly be healed;
Your vindication shall go before you,
and the glory of the LORD shall be your rear guard.
9 Then you shall call, and the LORD will answer,
you shall cry for help, and he will say: “Here I am!”
If you remove the yoke from among you,
the accusing finger, and malicious speech;
10 If you lavish your food on the hungry
and satisfy the afflicted;
Then your light shall rise in the darkness,
and your gloom shall become like midday;
11 Then the LORD will guide you always
and satisfy your thirst in parched places,
will give strength to your bones
And you shall be like a watered garden,
like a flowing spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people shall rebuild the ancient ruins;
the foundations from ages past you shall raise up;
“Repairer of the breach,” they shall call you,
“Restorer of ruined dwellings.”
Fear. Fear that the serpent was right. This is the root of all sin. Be it fear that our children will be safe, fear that we are inadequate to teach them, fear that the world we live in is collapsing in on us and keeping us from heaven, fear that we can’t provide for our children … and a thousand other fears — all of them expressions of our doubt. Maybe the serpent was right. Maybe I need to do it my way instead (except it never is my way, but the serpent’s way, is it?).
Fear can swallow us, just like fear of the waves and winds swallowed Simon Peter as he tried to walk on water toward Jesus. Sounds a lot like family life! Tumult. Chaos. Wave upon wave. “Jesus, save me!” we cry. He does. He always does. Then he scolds us for having so little faith. The serpent has no power … unless we give it to him. With our will. Either willfully or through neglect. Through fear, creeping up within us. How do we choose to trust Jesus instead of Satan?
"These are the beginning and the end of life: Faith the beginning, love the end … No one professing faith sins; no one professing love hates.”
- St Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr in a letter to the Ephesians
Faith and love are the beginning and end. But both require discipline lest the waves swallow us again, and we “forget” faith and taint love.
A few facts of the soul:
- We only control one thing, ever.
- Every choice we make does one of two things: either it grows our inner Saint and shrinks our inner Sinner (when we willfully choose faith in Jesus our Christ), or it grows our inner Sinner and shrinks our inner Saint (when we trust Satan, either willfully or through neglect).
How do we connect this with family life? How doe we choose Christ in the uncontrollable chaos of diapers, hollers, endless wants become needs, job searches, health issues, burned potatoes, flooding laundry room, and, oh yeah, a school day in there somewhere? You say choose holiness. You’re nuts! This is family life!
Exactly. Family life is holiness. Don’t believe me? Listen to Jesus our Christ:
‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father. Inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, a stranger and you welcomed me, naked and you clothed me, ill and you cared for me, in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him and say, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? When did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? When did we see you ill or in prison, and visit you?’ And the king will say to them in reply, ‘Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.’
- Matthew 25:34-40
How do we defend against the wickedness and snares of the Devil assailing the family? Wave after wave of onslaught against us? Faith and Love are the beginning and the end, and discipline is the road to get us there. What, exactly, does discipline look like? Here are some concrete ideas:
- Everyone of us is a tabernacle. Defend the holiness of the tabernacle. Protect your sacred innocence and that of your children and whole family.
- advertisers know scantily clad, immodest women triggers the amygdala (attraction/pleasure center) in the brain of men and women, for different reasons — but those reasons always threaten our sacred innocence. Women: I need to look like that to keep my husband. I’m not like her, I’m unworthy… ; Men: Hubba, hubba! Then we have to, within ourselves think: “Whoah! Wait! I am at the near occasion of sin here. Envy. Lust. Either way, I’m objectifying another person, and myself. Should we instead choose to not consume content that exposes us to thoughts we have to battle just to return our focus back to choosing what is right?
- Pray with your Beloved kneeling before Jesus our Christ on the cross at least 15 minutes every day. The rosary is perfect for this.
- Cultivate mindfulness: return to the mysteries when you wander. Discipline.
- Create margins to your day to cultivate focus. What “borders” do you need with time, transitions, physical space, lighting, etc. God can do more with far less when we give the margins to him (Sabbath is the prime example).
- You and your Beloved are one flesh. This is more than physical intimacy. Strive to parent, socialize, work, vote, and everything else in union, as one flesh.
- Cultivate ways and times to pray throughout the day. Prayer makes a great transition. Daily gospel reading, morning or evening prayer, the Angelus at lunch, the rosary kneeling before the cross. Chant and kneel prayer. Prayer is a margin, and helps what we do next also be prayer, our actions united to God’s will.
- Trinity Sword Prayer throughout the day, as any and every temptations is felt.
- Be disciplined in the authority God has given you: Lady, handmaid, of your hearth. Feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, welcoming the stranger, clothing the naked, caring for the ill, and visiting those in prison.
- “Yes Mama!” “Yes Papa!” with obedient joy every time you give your children an instruction. Be disciplined in helping them be disciplined.
- Home reconciliation for every offense
- punishment (consequence)
- Name the sin
- Choose to “make things right” — this means taking action to heal broken relationship , forgiveness is critical.
— younger kids need help with this, but the more they can own every choice they make, the stronger their will becomes in choosing Christ with every choice. Their discipline will help inform your discipline!
- Prayerfully consider wearing the scapular or the Miraculous Medal — to reflect your commitment to be disciplined in faith and love in your daily choices, including prayer.
As you choose discipline, you will discover faith and faith brings us to know Jesus which gives us hope that this fallen world is not victorious, and that frees us to love as God loves, acting out of charity to our family and the whole world. Your children will see this transformation deepening in you and imitate it themselves, often in ways you didn’t realize you need yourself!
Beginning of our conversation. I've thrown a lot at you. Pick up one piece. Live it. Be disciplined to living it, and watch the fruit that come to you and your whole family because of your radically Catholic discipline with every choice you make.
“So submit yourselves to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you of two minds. Humble yourselves before the Lord and he will exalt you” (James 4: 7-8,10, as in Vespers).