At PatrickMadrid.com we learn that, in addition to having written fifteen books and booklets (yes, it says booklets), he's also the publisher of Envoy Magazine, which has "garnered numerous journalism awards, including several first-place awards in the magazine-of-the-year “General Excellence” category from the Catholic Press Association." So yeah, you can tell this guy's no schlub.
In the article, Madrid explains what Catholic fathers should do in order to ensure that their children remain Catholic, even after we can't control them anymore. And I thought this was interesting, as I was raised Catholic and can't imagine what my parents could possibly have done to make me believe any of that stuff. But I kept an open mind, wondering what pearls of wisdom Madrid could impart.
Forced to Grow Upright
Here's the opening paragraph:
When considering what Catholic parents can and should do to foster a lively faith in the hearts of their children, I often use an analogy of growing tomatoes. If left to grow naturally, the tomato vine will simply grow along the ground and produce inferior, often diseased, tomatoes. If, however, the plant is fastened to a stake and forced to grow upright, it produces healthy fruit. True, there are still dangers that need to be counteracted, but they can do far less damage to the tomato vine that has been tied firmly to the stake.Tied firmly to the stake. Yes, that's the sort of analogy that comes to mind when I think of parenting. You must force your children to believe what you believe, or they'll grow up inferior and diseased.
But needless to say, children are people, not plants. There IS an issue of free choice, and people can't really learn if they can't make their own mistakes. You can tell your kids the right way to be, but it doesn't do any good if you force them to obey.
Mary the Interceder
In the next section, Madrid informs us that being Catholic means thinking Catholic all the time, and not just at church. We should consider our home to be a "domestic church," and use faith to "inform the daily routine and decisions in the home." But what does that mean, exactly? Should we transubstantiate bread into flesh before making our lunch? Is that the sort of Catholic decision he had in mind?
No, he just meant a decision on whether or not you should pray. Guess what? The Catholic decision is that you should. How surprising.
As Madrid explains (empahsis in the original):
I always strongly encourage praying the family rosary. If you, the father of the family, trustingly invoke the powerful intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary each day (she knows quite a bit about parenting, after all), you can rest assured that she will be there to help you, no matter how bumpy the road of life becomes.Wow, that'll really help Patrick Junior as he makes his way through life. Got a problem? Just ask the Virgin Mary to intercede. That's guaranteed to work.
And really, Mary, as parental role model? I think Mary had things pretty easy, seeing as how she raised the only person who never sinned. Boy, yeah. Next time I raise a sinless child, I'll be sure to read Mary's book on how to do it.
Don't Fear the Professor
And what is it that Catholic fathers need to worry about? What else: Atheism.
As Madrid explains:
So many Catholic parents are shattered when their kids go to college and become swayed by an atheist professor or drawn away from the Church by others who challenge their Catholic beliefs.Yes, how horrible. Your kids might grow up to think differently from you. I can see how that could shatter anyone. Apparently, the reason I became an atheist wasn't because I don't believe in things without proof, but because I was too afraid to confront my professors.
We fathers have to prepare our children to face these challenges not with fear, but with heads held high, as Catholics who love Jesus Christ and are not afraid to be a light shining in a dark place.
So how do we keep our kids Catholic? Inoculate them. You need to "prepare your kids now for what they will face later." And that's a sensible enough proposition. Or so I thought, as I assumed this involved somehow informing said children of the "wiles of the world," and how to avoid them.
But no. Instead, we are to "inoculate" our children, by having them read Catholic websites, the Catechism, and the bible. He also recommends we:
Invest also in some CD's by great Catholic teachers and make sure your children listen to them. In other words, make sure they are inoculated.So basically, this guy's idea of how to "keep your kids Catholic" involves forcing them to read religious texts and listen to boring Catholics, as well as making them pray a lot, which is the solution to all problems. Wow, this guy really knows how to reach today's youth. I suppose his next move will be to convince teens that it's ok for straight men to have moustaches again. He's got about as much chance with that as his scheme to keep kids Catholic.