Posted September 21, 2015:
Protecting Your Family from the Culture of Death

by Michael O’Brien.

Christian parents everywhere are facing the dilemma of raising their families in the midst of a tsunami of cultural corruption—an extremely invasive corruption it is.

We sense the dangers, but so often we do not know what to do about it. We know that our children are especially vulnerable to the spirit of the times and that the older they get, the more they must live with one foot in the family and one foot in the world around them.

An essential factor in their development is interaction with other young people from like-minded families. The sooner we help them find a wholesome community of friends, the better, since the foundation for later development is laid in the early years.

Younger or older, their community need not be a formal one, nor does it depend on constant traffic, since a little goes a long way in family life.

Often it is enough for a child or teen to know that he is not alone and that now and then he can have quality time with good friends.

When our children first met peers who had parents as "crazy" as theirs, the situation in the family changed dramatically for the better. We found ourselves no longer scrambling to say "no" to an influx of external pressures, and instead were saying "yes" to the increasingly wholesome influences that come with a healthy community life.

No family in our circle of friends had exactly the same policies or understandings regarding various aspects of the culture as any other family, but we all sensed the need for more effective discernment.

Most of us have found from experience that certain "strategies" are helpful and can gradually shift the balance in our children’s lives.

First and foremost, we parents must beg God for the graces we need in order to protect, guide, and nourish our children according to the mind of Christ. God and all heaven desire to help our children, and when we ask daily for this good "bread," he will give it. We might think of this as the over-all covering prayer.

In addition, we should be praying for specific needs and at crisis moments as they arise. We must ask God for particular graces for the specific battles over our children’s souls.

Ask God for the gift of an inner "radar" that will alert you to any incoming cultural material that may have a negative influence. It can enter your child’s life as mandatory reading material at school or as a birthday gift from a well-meaning relative, or as a DVD or music CD brought over to the house or at a party to which your child is invited.

Attend daily Mass if possible and go frequently to confession. If you have in your region a perpetual adoration chapel, make visits there as often as you can, and take along any young people who are willing to go. Make the visits short in the beginning, so you won’t turn them off.

The Lord is pouring out unusual graces through this practice, which Pope John Paul II urged every parish to make available.

Ask Our Lady, the Mother of God, to intercede for your family. We pray the rosary every day as a family, and my wife and I have found this to be a major influence in bringing our children to mature Christian adulthood.

God has given Our Lady a major role in our times in overcoming the devourer of souls. If you ask for her help—and keep asking day by day—she will pour out the graces you need.

The help of the guardian angels is also important. Pray to your children’s guardian angel, and from their youngest years, teach them to pray to their guardian angel every day.

Ask God for a miracle regarding the problem of peer pressure. Ask him to arrange through divine providence that you meet like-minded families in your area. There must surely be some, though they can sometimes be hard to find. Everywhere we have lived and travelled, no matter how small the community, they are there.

Search high and low for stimulating young people’s literature. We have browsed used bookstores for more than thirty years and have about 6,000 books in our home, most of them children’s and young adults’ literature. Now our grandchildren are beginning to dip into it. To heck with retirement funds! This is our investment in the future.

The adversary makes war on our children’s souls at every turn in this society. So you may want to add this: Every time you sense or know that something rotten (however minor it may appear) has entered your child’s life, pray the prayer to St. Michael the Archangel for his protection.

It is of utmost importance to know that the devil won’t give up trying to harm you, especially in the beginning. He may even come on stronger then in order to discourage you, make you drop the habit of praying against him. He is very clever. He has a PhD in psychology.

The saints and great spiritual directors tell us that discouragement is the devil’s major tactic in bringing us down. Temptation to sin, of course, is his first line of offence against us all, but I’m referring to those people who have begun to make progress in virtue and spiritual growth.

So please don’t give up. As we know, this struggle will continue throughout our lives; this is just normal Christian life in a war zone.

We have all the helps we need in order to bring ourselves and our families through to Paradise. Yet God always respects our freedom. He will force nothing on us, so we must ask for everything we need.

Use the sacramentals of holy water, blessed oil, or blessed salt (maybe all three!).

The children’s father should bless them every night, and if possible, every morning. If he can’t, the mother should do it. Always make these moments brief, gentle, and loving.

Finally, stand firm. Be willing to be misunderstood. Be willing to be considered fanatic, paranoid, and obsessive-compulsive. But always stand firm, with love—calm, unshakeable love—with an iron core of determination. No defensiveness, no hardness of face or heart. Just be unbudgeable.

Though your children may rant and resist you, in their heart of hearts, they will feel more secure with such a strong mother or father (or both), and they will respect you for it. As a result, in time they will listen to you and follow your guidance more attentively.

In hindsight, I see that we have come through many trials, and that we needn’t have been so anxious. Slowly, gradually, we learned the power of persistent prayer and the gift of patience.

And above all things, trust in the Lord.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge him and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Excerpted with permission from Father at Night, Justin Press, (2011), pp. 173-179.

Michael O’Brien, a friend of MH, is an artist and author of numerous books including a series of nine novels and collections of essays. Some of his novels (especially Father Elijah), are best sellers in the Catholic world. His works are published by Ignatius Press and Justin Press, Ottawa


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