Thoughts to sustain Catholic Families |
Editor's Note: Father Wathen, through Maria Hughes, shares his most recent letter with Thoughts on the Feast of the Holy Family. He shares wisdom of immense value for husbands and wives, for young men and women in the single life, and for children as well. In each, he provides solid Catholicity of how each must respond in order to have their state in life blessed and become fruitful in the eyes of God, and then in the eyes of the world which, as he points out, is often a paradox for living as a true Catholic is a contradiction to the world. His encouraging words give hope that more will take his solid advice and apply it to their lives so that a generation of true Catholics can be generated for tomorrow. That is his gift for the feast of the holiest of families, Jesus' Own in Nazareth with Mary and Joseph.
Whatever your calling in life, God has a special blue print for you and Father's advice below is applicable at all times in fostering a love for God and the holy Faith He gave you.
Father James F. Wathen
"Love Christ. This must be your first and most insistent and persistent prayer. Pray to the Lord Jesus to give you the gift of love of Himself. You may not know what this saying means, or how it might ever be possible. The idea may even have no appeal for you whatsoever. No matter. You are praying by faith."
Above all things, you must be men of principle and men of duty. You must do what is right because it is right. And you must perform your duties, because in marrying, you have accepted tremendous responsibilities, which only you can fulfill. And you must require those subject to you also to do what is right, and to do their duties. These two obligations come before all other considerations, because they cover all the main things in your life, such as faithfulness to your religion, fidelity to your wife, being an example to your children, earning a living for your family. If your wife is more a woman of principle and more dutiful than you are as a man, you must follow her lead.
If you are a man of principle, you will encounter opposition. You will be criticized, possibly by your wife, possibly by your children, possibly by your own relatives, possibly your wifeís. You must be ready to stand against the whole world for the sake of righteousness, with Christ your only support. This will not happen if you have chosen your wife carefully, but a man sometimes is surprised at whom he has chosen.
You must be women of humility and quietness, women of counsel. It is impossible to express the power and goodness of a wife who accepts the role which she chose in marrying. Her humility is in following the lead of her husband, but being his helpmate and support, the one he can always talk to, and receive from you thoughtfulness and sympathy. The fewness of your words adds weight to each one you speak. Your exemplar is the Virgin Mary, who pondered all things deeply, and spoke only when it was necessary. This is a hard discipline, but it is proof of the true worth and quality of a good wife.
Here is a perfect prayer. It is not only for wives, but I send to you because it is a good daily prayer, full of supernatural comprehension. It was composed by Cardinal Merry del Val, the dearest friend and closest advisor of Pope St. Pius X:
LITANY OF HUMILITY
Jesus, meek and humble of heart, hear me:
From the desire of being esteemed, Deliver me, O Jesus.(*)
From the desire of being loved, *
From the desire of being extolled, *
From the desire of being praised, *
From the desire of being preferred to others, *
From the desire of being consulted, *
From the desire of being approved, *
From the fear of being humiliated, *
From the fear of being despised, *
From the fear of being rebuked, *
From the fear of being calumniated, *
From the fear of being forgotten, *
From the fear of being ridiculed, *
From the fear of being wronged, *
From the fear of being suspected, *
That others may be more loved than I, Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.(**)
That others may be esteemed more than I, **
That, in the opinion of the world, others may increase and I may decrease, **
That others may be chosen and I be set aside, **
That others may be praised and I go unnoticed, **
That others may be preferred to me in everything, **
That others may become holier than I, provided that I become as holy as I should, **
Love Christ. This must be your first and most insistent and persistent prayer. Pray to the Lord Jesus to give you the gift of love of Himself. You may not know what this saying means, or how it might ever be possible. The idea may even have no appeal for you whatsoever. No matter. You are praying by faith. Our Lord said in
Come to Me all you that labor and are burdened, and I will refresh you.
Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me, because I am meek, and humble of heart: And you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is sweet and My burden light.
If you do this, Christ will unfailingly grant your request--provided, in addition, you make an honest effort to be a good man. But I owe you this further caution: It may happen, in the case of a few of you, that, one day, when you have no expectation of it, the thought may come to you: "I want Him only. He is all I need." Thereby may He call you to a double grace, to be one of His very own, as a priest, as a monk. You will know what He wants of you when you need to. Whatever you do, do not resist Him, for He will give you no peace until you follow Him. You will have received His greatest earthly (and unearthly) gift.
I need to add here a truth of greatest importance: To hear some people speak, even priests occasionally, and to read some peopleís writing, you might get the idea that they think that the center of Catholic faith and devotion is the Virgin Mary, or Our Lady of Fatima. They probably do not mean it this way, but that it the way it reaches us. Regardless, let it be said very clearly: Jesus Christ is the Eternal Fatherís Gift to you. He is your divine Way, your eternal Truth, and your supernatural Life. He is your Lord and Savior and Love. He is God given to you as He Whom you must love to live in this world and in the next. He alone can satisfy your heartís absolute need for a infinite love. This is what He teaches you; this is what Mary teaches you; this is your essential faith.
Our Blessed Mother is no rival to Christ. If you love Christ, you will love His Mother, and she will love you and teach to how to love Her Son. His Heart and hers are as one.
Among your requests to Christ and His Mother, pray to have the strength to keep the Faith. Pray that, in your pride and first independence, you do not go through a phase of abandonment to your passions, particularly your pride and lust. Very often, young men, before they marry, cannot stand freedom from their parentsí control. Until then, their virtue has hardly been tested. They do sinful things, which burden their consciences the rest of their lives, even after they have returned to God. Often too, they ruin their reputations, lose the respect of others, break their parentsí hearts, to say nothing of Christís.
Sometimes a young man becomes infatuated with a pretty little woman on the prowl. She enjoys a conquest; it feeds her vanity. She knows all the tricks, all the things to say, when to giggle and when to flatter, when to pretend she is not interested, and when to pout. If you are good looking, you are a tasty morsel in her eyes. If you have any sense, you will realize you are no match for such a one, and flee her as from a nest of hornets. Getting involved with such a one is an irreparable mistake; marry such a one and you will live in Hell. Be warned or be sorry.
After you pray to Christ for love, beg Him to send you a good Catholic woman. They are exceedingly hard to find. The world is full of modern women, who are the scourge of the age. All the media of influence, beginning with the public schools, are engineered to corrupt women, and, to no small extent, they are succeeding. From their earliest years, girls are taught to be self-centered, indecent, mannish, opinionated, and talkative. Whether they are smart or stupid, they cannot be made simply to stop talking. Most of them are vain, empty-headed gossips. Marry one of these wenches and she will not obey you. She will argue about everything, and she will always have the last word. The fondest memory of your life will be the time when you were a lonely, single man.
Wait patiently for the woman whom God has in mind for you. At best, your life will be hard, but she will be with you through everything, making everything possible, giving added worth to all your striving.
Before all other things, you must pray for the love of Christ, and the love of your holy Faith. What I said above to unmarried men, I say to you too for the same reason. Either you will love Christ, and be self-possessed and interiorly tranquil, or you will be a fearful and an insecure person. If you love Christ, you will remain pure and serene. If you do not, most likely you will lose your innocence, if not your virginity, before your marriage, and rue it bitterly the rest of your life.
Furthermore, pray for humility. Humility means nothing more than being honest about, and content with, the person God has made you, whether you are pretty or plain. Every woman cannot be beautiful in body, but all women can all be beautiful within. Every woman becomes disfigured with age, but her soul, though it ages, does not grow old. Fear not; you will be the "apple of the eye" of the man for whom God has chosen you, the one he wants, the one he cannot live without. And that should be enough for you. Read often the saying of the Scripture from
Proverbs 31:10-12, 25-31,
Who shall find a valiant woman? far, and from the uttermost coasts is the price of her. The heart of her husband trusteth in her, and he shall have no need of spoils. She will render him good, and not evil all the days of her life... Strength and beauty are her clothing, and she shall laugh in the latter day. She hath opened her mouth to wisdom, and the law of clemency is on her tongue. She hath looked well on the paths of her house, and hath not eaten her bread idle. Her children rose up, and called her blessed: her husband [stood forth also], and he praised her. Many daughters have gathered together riches: thou hast surpassed them all. Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain [worthless, misleading]: the woman that feareth the Lord, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands: and let her works praise her in the gates [of the village, where all the people gather].
Even if you marry a perfect man, you will have a lot to contend with. But the man you marry will not be perfect, and never imagine that you will make him so. He will not be infallible, and, at times, he will put himself before you and the children. One of the greatest gifts you can hope for is to know when to speak; at all other times you must keep your counsel. With most men, there are times when they will be reasonable; at other times they will not. At these times, the more you say, the less you will accomplish. Like the typical oriental, most men always try to save face, especially with their wives; it is their pride, which they surrender only after many painful mistakes..
BOYS AND GIRLS:
You have three things to do during your young years. The first is to pray that you will always love our Lord and be faithful to Him. Make this your daily prayer, even if you do not know why or do not want to. Say often him: "Dear Jesus, teach me how to love You, and never let me leave You." Ask our Blessed Mother to teach you how to love her Son.
The second thing you have to do is to obey your superiors, mainly your father and mother. This is very hard at times. You must accept the fact that the life of a Catholic is very often doing what you do not want to do, and not doing what you want to do. For most other people, life is doing what they want, finding an excuse to allow them to do what they want, even devising a religion which allows them to do what they want under some pretext or another, or just doing what they want because they will have their own way and no one is going to stop them.
Sometimes it is harder to obey your mother than your father. In your teenage years, you may think you hate one or both of your parents, that you cannot endure another day under their roof. You may become a complete ingrate, having no remembrance or appreciation of all that they have done for you, all they have given you, how much disobedience and "sassiness" they have put up with from you, or how much trouble and worry you have been to them. When you have children of your own, you will know what your parents did for you, but, as a selfish teenager, who thinks that he (or she) cannot wait to be grown up and gone, your parents may seem like heartless jailors. It is because of all these possibilities that, as a young boy or girl, you must learn how to pray to our Lord and our Lady to take care of you always, and not let you make a big fool of yourself.
The third thing you have to do is study. If you are wise, you will learn all you can when you are young and have the time to devote to study. Study hard; strive for high marks, strive to excel others in learning. If you cannot do this, do always the best you can, which will prove to be enough. The striving is almost as valuable as the success. Remember the old saying: "There is plenty of room on top."
Moreover, if you are wise, you will develop a love of reading. One of the main reasons the Church and the world is in the apparently hopeless mess that they are in, is because most people are simply too lazy-minded to read anything of substance.
With regard to reading, there is one piece of advice which one of the Sisters urged upon us when I was in grade school, and that is: "As you read, always look up unfamiliar words." Read what the dictionary says about the word in question. For the most part, I have done that all my life. There is everything good about this habit, even though you will read a few less books. Every word is a unique thing, for it says something no other word says exactly. Looking up words helps your memory. Looking up words is a good discipline for the mind and the will, because you would rather get on with the story.
Read books you enjoy. Thanks be, there are still more good books than bad ones, and they are almost a (totally) free luxury, available to the rich and the poor. The rich man who does not love to read is poor; the poor man who enjoys books is richer than he by far.
Editor's Note: A wise and holy priest imparted additional wisdom on this many years ago and it is confirmed in the private revelation* in mystic Maria Valtorta's meditative 4-volume work The Poem of the Man-God, which was verbally approved by Pope Pius XII himself to the Servite Fathers in Rome. Jesus counseled Lazarus, who possessed a library to rival that of Alexandria, to be careful in what he read. He admonished His good friend Lazarus not to read just to gain knowledge for that is satan's trap since pride goeth before the fall. Rather Our Lord said to Lazarus and therefore to all of us today, if you study, study to learn God and grow nearer to Him in the truth. If you read, even books for entertainment, do so only if you find God within the pages. The same applies to movies, TV, the internet, and music today. If you do not find God present in these mediums, toss the book aside, walk out of the movie, turn off the TV, go to a Traditional Catholic site, listen to classical or harmless music or, even better, pray and offer up all you do for His greater honor and glory. Remember knowledge for the sake of knowledge, entertainment for the sake of entertainment devoid of God is the swift path to perdition. A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing if it is not properly focused on the end-all which is your eternal salvation.
Good advice for these times when there is a push for all young people to attain higher education when in reality Jesus would be much happier if men and women obeyed the roles that He gave to them for all time. Today, with the explosion of the information highway on the world-wide-web and society's topsy-turvy concept that everyone must have a degree in order to be successful, there is an over-emphasis on education that depletes the soul by dulling the conscience and awakening the seven deadly sins in reprising the very same scene that led to Adam and Eve's downfall. A word to the wise is sufficient. You don't have to be intelligent to get to Heaven, but humble and wise. Wisdom comes from the Holy Ghost, not from the public education or university system which is the hot-bed of liberalism and rebellion of lawful authority. Be wise and concentrate on the signposts that will guide you on the specific highway God placed you on. In the face of all your peers, go against the grain: strive to be a humble and meek person - emulating Our Lord's words in Matthew 11: 29, "Take up My yoke upon you, and learn of Me because I am meek, and humble of heart: and you shall find rest to your souls. For My yoke is sweet and My burden light." Christ never gives us a yoke too great to bear. Bear your crosses willingly and with joy. Do not detour, do not be dazzled by the bright lights and glitter of something so fleeting, so insignificant compared to the treasure awaiting you in Heaven. Likewise, if you have a loving, caring homelife where the true Faith is kept, do not be so eager to leave it.
In previous times the parish and family supported each other, with dedicated priests and nuns whose primary purpose were getting souls to Heaven. What both Holy Mother Church and parents taught were absolutes and provided a blueprint for their children to carry on the Faith. There were guidelines and borders and few crossed them. The Church fostered many vocations and was the moral beacon providing necessary and wise - even holy - spiritual counseling by the pastor, the unchangeable doctrines within the Sacred Deposit of the Faith reinforced with a one-year liturgical calendar where all that was needed for salvation was contained. She also kept the immoralists in check with the Book of Index and the League of Catholic Decency which kept Hollywood, for all practical purposes, from tainting our youth. Built in was the assurance that when you studied and what you studied was of God, for God and with God. Sadly, this is not the case today at all in the modern church and society. More than ever parents must take charge or lose their children to the devil. Mothers and Fathers, teach your children yourself; young men and women, be open to the wisdom and grace of your parents. In the long run you will realize that if your parents love God and His holy Church, their love for you is uncompromising and whatever they propose for you is the best advice you could gain. We leave you with this final thought which should allay any shame or fear of ridicule: Our Lord lived at home for 30 years obedient to His Mother. Can He expect less of us?
* Always keep in mind that private revelation is on the bottom rung of the ladder in obedience to the Church. While we must believe Dogma and the Doctrines of the Church for they are contained in Divine Revelation, we do not have to believe in private revelation. However, if we apply what St. Paul counsels in 1 Thessalonians V: 17-24, we can be assured that we will not be led astray and by testing the Spirit, we can better refrain ourselves from all evil. Case in point, Rue du Bac, Lourdes, and Fatima are not necessary for salvation, but they surely help in our journey. Also consider, that 90% of the religious orders founded by the saints throughout the history of the Church originated through private revelation steeped in prayer.
Again, I wish to thank everyone who is praying for me, and having Masses offered for me; and the priests who are offering Masses out of their priestly charity. I received my second "chemo" treatment Wednesday of this week. Friday evening, I had a rather strong reaction, with a "queasy stomach," and a great deal of "wooziness," (if there is such a word); I could not trust myself to stand up or walk without holding on to something. I thought that it was the beginning of a long period of misery, such as some many people must suffer, but by Saturday morning, I felt normal again--normal for me, that is, with very little energy. Apparently, these super strong chemicals effect everyone differently; so far I seem to be one of the lucky ones. Not really. I happen to be a rare, fortunate individual who has a great number of fervent souls interceding for him; and the good God is granting their prayers. I receive assurances of prayers in the mail and by word of mouth day in, day out. God grant that somehow I will be able to make a proper repayment.
I thank again everyone who has sent me feastday good wishes and most kind gifts. Please, please forgive my not acknowledging these; maybe I will be able to do so at some future time. I send everyone who has shown his concern for me my priestly blessing and assurances of remembrances at holy Mass.
Father James F. Wathen
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