Adapted from Superabundant Family Love, by Fr. Bill McCarthy, MSA
"When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls. Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize. She brings him good and not evil, all the days of her life."
(Proverbs 31: 10-12)
He is your primary love. Allow Him to move you, forgive you, speak to you, guide you, heal you and fill you. Try to keep a spiritual journal of the inspirational messages you sense from Him, even if the entries are just short, encouraging and inspirational sentences; share these with your husband.
Jesus first, your husband second, your children third, etc. The best thing you can do for your husband is to love Jesus and see Him in your husband, despite any faults and weaknesses your husband might have. The best thing you can do for your children is to let them see you love their father. Try not to work outside the home. If you do need to work outside the home, try to make sure that your work does not interfere with your primary responsibilities as a Catholic Christian wife, mother and woman living in the midst of the modern world. There is great dignity in the domesticity of this three-fold aspect of your one vocation. Develop a weekly schedule setting aside primary time for Jesus, for your husband and for each child.
Both head and heart work together for the benefit of the whole body, which in this regard is the family. Even on a purely natural level, one's head and heart work together for the benefit of the body: the heart pumps blood to the head, the head processes it and is able to function and work rationally. It is your primary duty and responsibility to work with your husband and support him with your love. Love is your greatest gift.
Remember that Christians are called to be "in the world, but not of the world." Work with God and your husband toward solutions. For example, TV is dangerous because of the violence and sexual promiscuity that dominate many programs today. Decide with your husband which television programs you will allow the family to watch. You and your husband must also be disciplined in this regard.
Share your insights with him. If you keep a spiritual journal, share it with him. Ask and allow the Lord to sanctify and purify your relationship with your husband. Ask the Lord for the strength to love your husband with the same love and purity He has for you and His Church.
There is nothing to compare with a mother's love in a child's life. You will intuitively know each child's needs and problems. Treat each child in a unique and personal way. The power of a mother's affirming love is tremendously overwhelming and something truly wonderful. Children need it. They require it for their full and proper development. Share openly with your children and allow them to be open with you. You should know their fears, worries and temptations. Pray daily for guidance and wisdom – both for yourself and for them. Dare to discipline with love and firmness.
Encourage your family members at family devotions to place everything in God's hands – worries, fears, doubts, difficulties and temptations. Establish a family "Book of Petitions" similar to that which is found in your parish church and which family members can freely write in. Instill in them the Truth that God is really their Father and that the Blessed Virgin Mary is really their Mother. Instill in them, too, that the Holy Spirit is really present to each one of them, desiring to work actively in each one of their lives. Remind them that Jesus lives in their hearts, is speaking to them and is constantly loving them and is willing to forgive them. Foster the use of sacramentals among your family members. Sacramentals are "sacred signs which bear a certain resemblance to the Sacraments and by means of which spiritual effects are signified and obtained through the prayers of the Church" (Catechism of the Catholic Church). Examples of sacramentals include the Sign of the Cross, holy water, enrollment in the Brown Scapular of Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, religious medals, blessings, pilgrimages, processions, the Stations of the Cross, sacred art, rosaries and the veneration of relics. While sacramentals do differ from the seven Sacraments, they are still very important in the life of a Catholic Christian. Also, promote spontaneous visits to the Blessed Sacrament with your family members, for instance, when in town running errands.
This is a challenge in the materialistic, pleasure-seeking and individualistic culture in which we live today. You are called to heroic virtue here – the very stuff for which a person is canonized a Saint. Movie stars, TV heroes and sports heroes are generally not the best role models for children. Keep watch over the songs your children are listening to and the posters they hang in their bedrooms. This calls for wisdom on the part of both you and your husband – and firm, loving discipline and order from both of you.
Each child is called to put God first and to serve Him with his or her whole heart. This is a difficult, yet heroic task in today's world. You can teach your children how to do it. Pray for wisdom and know-how.
Encourage your family to receive frequently the Sacrament of Confession and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist. Help to ensure the celebration of the Sacraments by your family members on a regular basis. The Sacrament of Confession should be partaken of at least monthly and the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist should be partaken of at least weekly. Take your family to Sunday Mass as a family. Again, do everything in your power to make Sunday the Lord's Day and a day of family togetherness; that is, a day of prayer, relaxation and recreation. This calls for creativity, imagination and frequent planning in advance. Seek input from your husband and older children in this regard. Remember, any good and wholesome recreation is really a "re-creation" of both body and soul.
Fr. Bill McCarthy, MSA
Author and Founder of My Father’s House A Retreat Center in Moodus, CT