by Thomas J. Centrella
How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to Thy Word. Psalm 119:9
How can we as Catholic parents help our children keep their way pure when they go out into the world? This is the second in a series of articles on seven practices that can help our children—as well as ourselves—stay on the right path. Last time, we discussed the first two of these seven practices: Daily Mass and Weekly Eucharistic Adoration, and Frequent Confession.
Today, we will discuss the third of these practices: Immersion in the Mind of Christ, Not the World.
3. Immersion in the Mind of Christ, Not the World
Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).
If we and our children are to keep our faith, we must immerse ourselves in the mind of Christ, not the mindset of the world. Knowing the teachings of the Magisterium (teaching authority) of the Catholic Church is essential to living a life that is pleasing to God. How can we learn these teachings? The best way to begin is by studying (1) the Baltimore Catechism and (2) the Catechism of the Catholic Church (make sure you have the second edition).
Then, over time, we can try to gain a deeper understanding by studying other documents that the Magisterium has promulgated over the centuries. At the same time, we must avoid immersing ourselves in the mindset of our culture, which is often diametrically opposed to many of these teachings.
One of the key problems in our culture is the question of authority. When our children leave home and are no longer required to be obedient to us, which “authority” will they follow? Whom will they serve? Will they obey the Authority of God and His Holy Church, or will they follow those who try to substitute their own “authority” for His?
Our government is quickly becoming totalitarian, while simultaneously pushing an agenda that is wicked and depraved. This is a frightening combination. No Christian can, in good conscience, be obedient to any laws that are contrary to the Laws of God. Our children must know God’s Laws so that they will be able to recognize a fraud when they see one.
The entertainment industry and the mainstream media push the same evil agenda, often speaking with an air of authority, as if they were the judges of what is right and wrong. Yet, they are increasingly, and ever more blatantly, acting as enemies of Jesus Christ. They call evil that which is good, and they call good that which is evil.
Those who allow their children to be immersed in the trappings of these industries will one day wake up to find that they have an enemy in their own home. Their own children will begin to have the mindset, not of Christ, but of the world, which in reality is the mindset of the devil. The minute they leave home, these children will throw off all that their parents have taught them. They will serve the “authority” of the world, rather than the Authority of God.
If parents are immersed in these industries, their children will notice, and they will one day follow their parents’ example, but extrapolated to however bad the culture is at that time. As disciples of Jesus Christ, we must not be enslaved to anything. Yet, how many Catholics are enslaved to the modern entertainment industry? It is impossible to serve two masters—especially when one is the enemy of the other. It is absolutely critical that we as Catholics free ourselves from the influence of the entertainment industry and the mainstream media. If we do not, we will be corrupted every day in a thousand different ways, and so will our children.
For those who aren’t completely convinced of the dangers of these industries, I have a friendly challenge to suggest: do not watch any television, movies, or other entertainment for 40 days. For example, you could offer this up as a sacrifice to Jesus during your next Lent. (If this seems too long, perhaps you could try it during the four weeks of Advent instead.) When this period is over, and you turn on your TV again, I guarantee that you will be shocked at what you see. When we are immersed in the entertainment industry, we are numb to the countless temptations, impurities, and lies that are constantly bombarding us and shaping our character. When we are free from it, even for little while, we begin to see just how depraved it really is.
Peer pressure is another form of “authority” that can lead our children away from what is good. So, it is important that we are careful about whom we allow our children to spend time with. Yes, we are called to evangelize others and lead them to Christ. However, our children are not yet fully equipped to do that. We must not fool ourselves. If our children hang out with those who have the mindset of the world, they will begin to adopt that mindset. It will enter our home like a bad smell that we can’t seem to make go away.
Part of our task in raising our children is to train them to be polite and courteous to everyone, but to be careful about whom they choose to be their friends and counselors—and ultimately their spouses, if that is their vocation. “Let those who are at peace with you be many, but let your advisors be one in a thousand. When you gain a friend, gain him through testing, and do not trust him hastily” (Sirach 6:6-7).
Avoiding being immersed in the mindset of the world is extremely important, but it is not enough. We must at the same time be immersed in the mind of Christ by knowing the mind of the Church. We must teach our children to respect God’s Laws and Authority by being obedient to His Commandments and being faithful to the Magisterium of the Church He established.
The best way to teach our children is through our own example. And the best example we can give is to constantly strive to live morally upright lives in union with Jesus Christ. However, our example is not enough. We must also teach our children by talking with them about what the Catholic Church teaches and why.
In order for our children to stay on the right path, it is critical that they—and we—remain immersed in the mind of Christ, not the world. Fortunately, we are not alone in our fervent desire to help our children remain true to their Catholic Faith. The Blessed Virgin Mary, who is the Queen of Heaven and Earth, earnestly desires their salvation as well, and she can show them how to stay close to Jesus throughout their lives. Next time, we will discuss two more practices that are important in our walk with Christ: Devotion to Mary through the Daily Rosary, and Charity and Service to Others.