How can we restore the authentic Christian family values in our world today? The Church teaches that the family is the first cell of society; the husband and wife in union with God and cooperating with Him in the rearing and education of their children. Each parent has a special role to play; the father as the head of the family and provider, and the mother as the heart of the family and nurturer in the home. This is the ideal, but how to make it a reality? Where have we gone wrong?
In the early 1920’s, the first state-controlled day cares were started in Communist Russia. The reason given was to increase the work force of the country. In hindsight, we realize that it was, in reality, a means to “pull” the children away from the parents and the family structure, so as to indoctrinate them with communistic and atheistic ideas.
Today, because of financial pressures, many families find themselves in circumstances where both parents need to work outside the home to make ends meet. If the children are not in school, this brings about a problem of providing “day care” for their little ones. What many parents are now realizing is that, more often than not, they are now faced with a new dilemma of “indoctrination”, e.g. “moral relativism”, “new-age” ideas, “political correctness”, etc., new ways of thinking that are contrary to authentic Christian values.
|Jean Marie Meyer and his wife Anouk Lejeune (the daughter of famous French scientist Jerome Lejeune) are the parents of seven children, and grandparents of ten grandchildren. In 1982, there were chosen by Pope John Paul II to be among the first twenty married couples members of the Pontifical Council for the Family|
The United States currently funds day care on the federal, state, and local levels. This funding includes Head Start programs, full-day kindergarten, and after-school programs. Unfortunately, all of these programs substitute for the absent mother to the detriment of the family. The work of the mother in the home is irreplaceable. The state has an obligation to provide assistance to the family. This funding should therefore be given, as a voucher for the Mom, in order that she may choose what is best for her children. The Church’s social teaching opposes any social program that replaces a role that the parents can perform themselves. This Catholic principle is known as subsidiarity. We must recognize and respect the work of the mother in the home because of its value for the family and for society.
Recent statistics show that there is a strong trend toward a more traditional structure of family life. According to a new study by the Pew Research Center: the percentage of U.S. mothers who don’t work outside the home has risen over the past 10 years after decades of decline, the share of stay-at-home moms in the population hit a “modern-era low” of 23 percent in 1999, and has since risen to 29 percent (2012). The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of working mothers has decreased to 3 million from 4 million in 1997 and between 1997 and 2005, the number of working married women with college degrees dropped by almost 8%. This may be evidence that Americans desire to return to a more traditional way of life.
As early as 1931, Pope Pius XI stated in his encyclical letter, Quadragesimo Anno: “It is an intolerable abuse, and to be abolished at all cost, for mothers, on account of the father’s low wage, to be forced to engage in gainful occupations outside the home to the neglect of their proper cares and duties, especially the training of children.”
On this subject the Holy See issued the “Charter of the Rights of the Family”, in October 1983, in which it called for “remuneration of the work in the home of one of the parents; it should be such that mothers will not be obliged to work outside the home to the detriment of family life and especially of the education of the children” (Article 10).
|“The Holy Family is the beginning of countless other holy families.” – Pope St. John Paul II|
Pope St. John Paul II championed the cause for the Stay-at-Home-Mom when he stated in his encyclical letter, Laborem Exercens: “Such remuneration can be given either through what is called a family wage - that is, a single salary given to the head of the family for his work…or through other social measures such as family allowances or grants to the mothers devoting themselves exclusively to their families. These grants should correspond to the actual needs, that is, to the number of dependents for as long as they are not in a position to assume proper responsibility for their own lives.
“Experience confirms that there must be a social re-evaluation of the mother’s role, of the toil connected with it, and of the need that children have for care, love and affection in order that they may develop into responsible, morally and religiously mature and psychologically stable persons. It will rebound to the credit of society to make it possible for a mother – without inhibiting her freedom, without psychological or practical discrimination, and without penalizing her as compared with other women – to devote herself to taking care of her children and educating them in accordance with their needs, which vary with age. Having to abandon these tasks in order to take up paid work outside the home is wrong from the point of view of the good of society and of the family when it contradicts or hinders these primary goals of the mission of a mother” (n.19).
And again in his Letter to Families (1994), “While speaking about employment in reference to the family, it is appropriate to emphasize how important and burdensome is the work women do within the family unit: that work should be acknowledged and deeply appreciated. The “toil” of a woman who, having given birth to a child, nourishes and cares for that child and devotes herself to its upbringing, particularly in the early years, is so great as to be comparable to any professional work. This ought to be clearly stated and upheld, no less than any other labour right. Motherhood, because of all the hard work it entails, should be recognized as giving the right to financial benefits at least equal to those of other kinds of work undertaken in order to support the family during such a delicate phase of its life.
“Every effort should be made so that the family will be recognized as the primordial and, in a certain sense ‘sovereign’ society! The ‘sovereignty’ of the family is essential for the good of society. A truly sovereign and spiritually vigorous nation is always made up of strong families who are aware of their vocation and mission in history. The family is at the heart of all these problems and tasks. To relegate it to a subordinate or secondary role, excluding it from its rightful position in society, would be to inflict grave harm on the authentic growth of society as a whole.”
The Social Credit proposals, advocated by the Pilgrims of St. Michael, would make up for the gap in the purchasing power of families, and allow mothers who choose to do so to stay home and raise their children. A national dividend to all, and a compensated discount on prices, would increase the family’s purchasing power. This is a response to the Holy Father’s call to the role of the laity to work to restore the family in society. (Recommended book: The Social Credit Proposals Explained in 10 Lessons, by Alain Pilote. www.michaeljournal.org)
To be effective in changing our own society we need to begin by examining our conscience, and ask ourselves, do we truly know our Catholic Faith? Do we teach it to our children? And most importantly, are we truly living it? Do we pray the Rosary with our children? Are we setting an example of Christian virtue and are we practicing true charity towards our neighbor, especially our loved ones in our own homes? Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta said: “Everybody today seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater developments and greater riches and so on, so that children have very little time for their parents, parents have very little time for each other, and in the home begins the disruption of peace of the world.”
“May the Holy Family, icon and model of every human family, help each individual to walk in the spirit of Nazareth. May it help each family unit to grow in understanding of its particular mission in society and the Church by hearing the Word of God, by prayer and by a fraternal sharing of life. May Mary, Mother of “Fairest Love”, and Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer, accompany us all with their constant protection.” — Pope St. John Paul II (Letter to Families).
Yves and Anne Marie Jacques