Does it not strike you as a surprising fact that Catholic parents so often urge their children to do what is asked of them from merely human motives and that everything about their homes tends to nourish ambition and luxury? They tell them how such and such a man of obscure birth has made himself famous by his eloquence or has acquired great riches and has married an heiress, that he has built himself a magnificent house and lives envied by all. Such examples are held up to the children , but the parents never think of talking to them of those who are great in the kingdom of heaven. If anyone else tries to speak of these things, the parents stop them as though they would spoil everything by such talk.
There are mothers who take great care of their daughters’ health but little of their conscience. Far from forbidding them foolish and even bad books, indecent dresses, undesirable friends, indecent pictures, plays, and dances, they allow them these things and even sometimes force them on their children.
Do not such parents know that spiritual fornication is a crime among Christians; that a look may kill a soul and that a desire or thought is enough to rob children of innocence and grace?
Some mothers think that when they have brought a child into the world they have no further duty toward them. They hand him over to a nurse who may pass on her own bad inclinations to the child with the milk that nourishes him. From the hands of a nurse, the child passes into those of a governess or tutor, who has perhaps been chosen without the parents’ knowing if the person is good or bad!
Yet marriage was instituted and is blessed only that children may be brought up in the fear of God. If only parents would take the trouble, what could they not do for their children!
If you do not bring up your children well, what do you do? It is the only thing you have to do; it is this that God requires of you, for this that he established Christian marriage; and it is on this that you will be judged.
You reply that you have amassed a fortune for your children. Did God ask that of you? At judgment he will say: Give me an account of this soul that I confided to your care. What has become of him? It was the field, the vine that the Lord left in your hands to be cultivated. Have you brought up your children to lead holy lives? What have you taught them? Are they good? Do they fear God? Are they well instructed? Many parents will not know what to answer to these questions. They do not even know if their children are good or bad, well or ill-instructed!
It is surprising how many parents, knowing from their own experience what the world is and how vain, false, and dangerous the pleasures of this life are, are foolish enough to let their children frequent these pleasures because they themselves are no longer of an age to enjoy them. Such parents, instead of regretting that they have lost their time in such follies and grieving over the sins they have committed , urge their children on toward the same perils. What excuse can they bring forward at judgment to shield themselves from a sentence of condemnation? For what grace or mercy can they hope?
The above is a sermon that was given by and written in a book called – The Spiritual Direction of Saint Claude De La Colombiere, who was a Jesuit priest and lived from 1641-1682. I am grateful to my friend Jim who gave me this book; it is a treasure and the greatest book I have ever read next to the Bible and The Cathechism of The Catholic Church. St. Claude was the spiritual director of St. Margaret Mary Alocoque and together through our Lord’s grace they brought us, the Church, the most beautiful devotion of The Sacred Heart of Jesus! This sermon was given by St. Claude almost 400 years ago, yet as I read it all I can think is ,wow, this is so true and appropriate for our times today! Also, as I read it I realize how much I have fallen short and how much I have missed the mark as a parent to five. I realize I will be a parent for life and I truly try and train very hard every day to be the man and father God created me to be. I will stand before God one day and give account of my parenting and fatherhood, which are gifts our Lord gave me and pray I am giving my children back to Him! All for the glory of God, in Christ our Lord!!!!
For more information on St. Claude click on this link – https://www.piercedhearts.org/theology_heart/life_saints/claude_colombiere.htm