February 7, 2000
volume 11, no. 26

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    Pat Ludwa, a committed lay Catholic from Cleveland, has been asked to contribute, on a regular basis, a lay person's point of view on the Church today. We have been impressed with his insight and the clear logic he brings to the table from his "view from the pew." In all humility, by his own admission, he feels he has very little to offer, but we're sure you'll agree with us that his viewpoint is exactly what millions of the silent majority of Catholics believe and have been trying to say as well. Pat puts it in words that help all of us better understand and convey to others what the Church teaches and we must believe.

    Today Pat filters the mixed messages coming from society where children are confused by double standards, rules and laws that are not formulated by authorities of respect but rather a conglomerate of village idiots comprising the "village" where they set policy based on nothing substantive and void of God and then wonder why children are straying and rebelling. Stephen Sondheim's lyrics in one of his songs in "Into the Woods" says "Children listen, be careful what you say." But, as Pat points out, these village idiots have not been careful and that includes village idiots within the Church posing as dissidents who have managed to tear down the walls of protection and put the children of the Church in great peril through their idiocy. That is the gist of his column today, Honor thy Father and thy Mother.

    For past columns by Pat Ludwa, click on VIEW FROM THE PEW Archives   If you want to send him ideas or feedback, you can reach him at

Honoring thy Father and thy Mother

        Every time I hear of an incident in a school, my heart goes out to those who were victimized by it. Not the children hurt or killed, those who were witnesses to it and the parents of those who did it. Why? Because today, it seems their damned if they do and damned if they don't.

        Recently, in a high school lauded nation wide for it's security, a girl and a group of boys were finally caught after she had bestowed sexual favors on them in a group. This was done in classrooms, stairwells, etc. This had evidently been going on for quite a few months. Where was the security? Who was responsible for this? The school? The teachers? The parents? Who?

        Turn on any news show, talk show (other than Jerry Springer) and sooner or later you'll find an 'expert' being paraded about on how kids should be raised. One tells how parents have to watch and guard everything a child does. Another speaks of parents letting go, not watching over their shoulder all the time, but to trust them. Which advice are parents to take?

        Some States have laws which 'emancipate' children at ridiculously young ages. 15, 16, 17, maybe even younger. Yet, if the child cuts school, if the child gets into trouble with the law, it's the parents who often get charged, or at least accused, of taking a hand in their children's life. Again, mixed messages.

        Parents are told they have to 'teach' their children, and be involved in their lives. Yet, when they do, they're often told to keep quiet and let the 'experts' handle it. And then we have the notion that parents aren't supposed to teach and raise their children, rather (as a New York Senate hopeful said) 'It takes a village'. Ever notice some of the characters in a village? Do we really want our kids raised by the village idiot? The village thief? Etc?

        We also have the problem that 'families' are touted as the key of stability, but families are under attack. I've heard various spokespersons from Planned Parenthood and other places, that parents have no right to 'impose' their morals, values, or beliefs on their children. And we hear them tell 'parents', on one hand, that they have to see to themselves first, but then chastise them when they do. It seems acceptable for a wife and mother to leave her children if she feels 'oppressed', but the father is a dead beat Dad.

        No fault divorce makes the idea of commitment to either a spouse or a family a joke. No other 'contract' can be so easily broken as the marriage contract, the marriage vow. And of course, love and sex are separate things not connected in any way with marriage and commitment. Which brings us back to the high school escapades.

        We say we expect the parents to raise and teach their children. But either from being mistaught themselves, or from the necessity of having both parents work to make ends meet, the children aren't taught but end up being taught by the village. That is, their peers, their teachers, their television shows, etc. Any one but the parents.

        For all the rhetoric, for all the hype, the facts are that society doesn't expect, and in some cases, even want, parents to raise their kids. Rather, they want the 'village' to do it. They don't want parents teaching the children, everyone else will, the village.

        So, we hear children attacking their parents as 'unfair' (Jimmy's parents let him stay out til 2 am!), unenlightened, backward, and dictatorial. So is it any wonder we have kids killing kids and kids having kids? But let something go wrong, and it isn't society's fault, it's the parents. You can't win for losing, damned if you do and damned if you don't.

        It's the same with the Church. We are the family of God, His children whom He loves and cares for. "But to all who received Him (Christ), who believed in His name, He gave power to become children of God; who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1: 12-13).

    "So then, brethren, we are debtors, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh--for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the spirit of sonship. When we cry, 'Abba! Father!' it is the Spirit Himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with Him in order that we may also be glorified with Him" (Romans 8:12-17).

        Our Father gives us what we need. He provides for us just as any father should do. He praises and chastises, He extols and rebukes, but always, He loves. "For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16).

        "Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?" (Matthew 6: 26-30).

        But we see in society that to see God as a Father is wrong. Anything that even smacks of God is to be removed, silenced, and ridiculed. After all, if an earthly father is of no importance, can be ridiculed, why not the Eternal Father?

        And what of the Church? The Church is our mother. (Recall the old saying of 'Holy Mother Church'?) Like a mother, the Church cares for, nurtures, and teaches her children. Christ speaks of Himself as the Bridegroom, the Church being His Bride. The Church, being the spouse of God, cannot go against His wishes, His desires, His commands. "As the church is subject to Christ, so let wives also be subject in everything to their husbands. Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present the Church to Himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body. 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.' This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband" (Ephesians 5: 24-33).

        Note, Christ and His Bride are not in competition with each other, but mutually supportive. The Spouse of Christ, the Church, doesn't see itself as 'enslaved' or 'oppressed' by her Lord. Rather, she subjects herself to Him out of love. Likewise, out Lord doesn't 'bully' His Bride, the Church, but supports her and loves her. And together, they try to teach their 'children' the ways of the Father.

        But her children are being taught by others. The village. Try as she might, her (the Church's) children are being taken from her. Her children are being 'emancipated' even though they don't know the how to live according to the Father's will. This means that their own wants and desires become the center of their lives. Friends, peers become the main focus of acceptance. Bit by bit, we are told that we don't need the Church to teach and guide us. Is it then any wonder so many say that their Mother the Church is 'unfair, unenlightened, backward, and dictatorial. They can't see the love and concern of the Church since 'the village' has blinded them to the real love of their 'Mother'.

        If any parent puts limits on their children, they do so out of love, not a sense of power. A parent doesn't tell their children not to play with fire because they want to keep them from the warmth, rather, they want to protect them from getting burnt. So it is with the Church.

        "Catholic doctrine and discipline may be walls; but they are the walls of a playground. Christianity is the only frame which has preserved the pleasure of Paganism. We might fancy some children playing on the flat grassy top of some tall island in the sea. So long as there was a wall round the cliff's edge they could fling themselves into every frantic game and make the place the noisiest of nurseries. But the walls were knocked down, leaving the naked peril of the precipice. They did not fall over; but when their friends returned to them they were all huddled in terror in the centre of the island; and their song had ceased." {G. K. Chesterton: Orthodoxy, Garden City, NY: Doubleday Image, 1908, p. 145}

        And just as it is with the parents, if any of these 'spiritual'children get into trouble for not listening to their Father and Mother, who gets the blame? The village who taught them and encouraged their rebellion? No, the Church.

    Pax Christi, Pat


February 7, 2000
volume 10, no. 26

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