September 10, 2012

Honoring My Father and My Mother

Catechism Paragraphs 2196 – 2257

Chapter Two: You Shall Love Your Neighbor as Yourself

The Fourth Commandment:  Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you. 

The catechism goes into depths beyond the literal words of this commandment.  It explains the natures and duties of the family and its members, not only to the parents, but to one another.  It goes on to extend similar duties of us to all who are teachers and all who administer legitimate authority over us.  They are all to be respected --- and to respect us.

“The fourth commandment … shows us the order of charity.  God has willed that, after him, we should honor our parents to whom we owe life and who have handed on to us the knowledge of God.  We are obliged to honor and respect all those whom God, for our good, has vested with his authority. 2197   It extends to the duties of pupils to teachers, employees to employers, subordinates to leaders, citizens to their country, and to those who administer or govern it. … and presupposes the duties of parents, instructors, teachers, leaders, magistrates, those who govern, all who exercise authority over others. 2199   Respecting this commandment provides, along with spiritual fruits, temporal fruits of peace and prosperity.  Failure to observe it brings great harm to communities and to individuals.”  2200

“The Christian family … assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament.  In the procreation and education of children it reflects the Father’s work of creation.  The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task.  2204-5  The family should live in such a way that its members learn to care and take responsibility for the young, the old, the sick, the handicapped, and the poor.  There are many families who are at times incapable of providing this help.  It devolves then on other persons, other families, and, in a subsidiary way, society to provide for their needs. (note: it says society, i.e. government, last).  2208   The importance of the family for the life and well-being of society entails a particular responsibility for society to support and strengthen marriage and the family. 2210   The fourth commandment illuminates other relationships in society.  The neighbor is not a “unit” in the human collective; he is “someone” who by his known origins deserves particular attention and respect.” 2212  

“Filial respect is shown by true docility and obedience.  ‘A wise son hears his father’s instruction.’  As long as a child lives at home with his parents, the child should obey his parents in all that they ask of him when it is for his good or that of the family.  ‘Children obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.’  Obedience toward parents ceases with the emancipation of the children; not so respect, which is always owed to them.  This respect has its roots in the fear of God, one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.  The fourth commandment reminds grown children of their responsibilities toward their parents.  As much as they can, they must give them material and moral support in old age and in times of illness, loneliness, or distress.”  2216-8

“The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute.  Parents must regard their children as children of God and … they educate their children to fulfill God’s law.  Parents should teach their children to subordinate the material and instinctual dimensions to interior and spiritual ones.  2221-3   Children in turn contribute to the growth in holiness of their parents.  Each and everyone should be generous and tireless in forgiving one another for offenses, quarrels, injustices, and neglect.  The charity of Christ demands it.  2227   Family ties are important but not absolute.  The first vocation of the Christian is to follow Jesus: ‘He who loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me; and he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me.’” 2232

“Those subject to authority should regard those in authority as representatives of God, who has made them stewards of his gifts. 2238   (There was a long pause at this sentence, as we debated its meaning, since we have so many examples of those in authority who seem to in no way represent God.)  Submission to authority and co-responsibility for the common good make it morally obligatory to pay taxes, to exercise the right to vote, and to defend one’s country. 2240   The citizen is obliged in conscience not to follow the directives of civil authorities when they are contrary to the demands of the moral order, to the fundamental rights of persons or the teachings of the Gospel.  ‘We must obey God rather than men.’  2242  

It is a part of the Church’s mission “to pass moral judgments even in matters related to politics, whenever the fundamental rights of man or the salvation of souls requires it.”  2246

YOUCAT defined the limits of government and our obligations more succinctly:  “No state has the right to define the family differently, for the family’s commission comes from the Creator.  No state has the right to deprive the family of its fundamental functions, especially in the area of education.” Q370   “It was Peter who called us to practice only a relative obedience toward the state when he said, ‘We must obey God rather than men.’  If a state should establish laws and procedures that are racist, sexist, or destructive of human life, a Christian is obliged in conscience to refuse to obey, to refrain from participation, and to offer resistance.  Q377

Personally, I found that last sentence most refreshing and supportive to my feelings:  We must refrain from participation (re the mandate to buy insurance including abortion coverage), and to offer resistance.  I wholly agree.

Next week (well, actually tomorrow, based on when I’m typing this), we move on to the fifth commandment:  You shall not kill.  I’m a bit worried what it’ll say about some of the thoughts I’ve had lately relative to our politicians.  Oh well, there’s always confession, if need be.   

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