Monday, May 10, 2010

The Office of Parent

Early May brings Mother’s Day; likewise June delivers Father’s Day. So it’s appropriate to reflect on parenting.

The office of parent is a holy vocation, as holy as the office of husband or wife. The work parents do is holier than that of nearly any other vocation, with the exception of spouses. The work of raising children in the fear and knowledge of the Lord is one of the holiest works to be done. So it is good to honor these estates of motherhood and fatherhood, not merely on one day a year but on every day. And it is good to model our parenting after Holy Scripture and the Catechism.

From the Table of Duties of the Small Catechism: “Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

There are two styles of parenting: sacrificial parenting and selfish parenting. The world greatly prefers selfish parenting. Worse, our sinful flesh is inclined not toward godly, sacrificial parenting but toward self-interested, selfish parenting. Christian parents must constantly struggle against this sinful tendency.

In a culture where children are a choice and little more than fashion accessories, selfish parenting comes naturally. The trend to be a hip parent is far more popular than any inclination to give up our desires, needs, dreams for the sake of raising our children in the training and instruction of the Lord. There is a distinct tension between wanting to remain the centers of our worlds and needing to heed the call from God to be fathers as He is our Father.

And yet these vocations, these stations in life, these holy offices of mother and father are God-given. And as He has given them, only He can enable the work done through them. So fathers, live in repentance and faith. Learn from God the Father how to be a faithful father to your children. Learn from the St. Joseph, whom God chose to be the guardian and earthly father to the Son of God. Learn from him who taught the Scriptures to the Incarmate Word of God how to raise godly sons and daughters. Learn from him who taught Jesus how to pray to His Father to teach your children to pray to their Heavenly Father. And mothers, live in repentance and faith. Learn from the Church who raises and nurtures you as the sons and daughters of God how to raise your sons and daughters to belong to God. Learn from St. Mary whom the Lord called to be the mother to the Son of God. Learn from her who set aside her own ambitions and goals to embrace this higher, holier calling how to treasure the holy calling of motherhood when the world is quick to denigrate it. Learn from her whose few recorded words are “let it be to me according to your Word” and “Do whatever He tells you” the content of faith.

So, happy Mother’s Day. Happy Father’s Day. God has given you these holy callings, and He enables you, by the forgiveness and mercy He lavishes upon you, to live in these offices and do His work.

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