Manners, Customs, Clothing
Establishing a Spirit of Order, Prayer & Duty
in a Catholic Home
This question was posed to TIA regarding establishing good customs and a spirit of recollection in a family:
After watching the videos on Courtesy on your TIA Media Center and reading some information on Our Lady of Good Success, it is obvious to me that my constant lack of recollection, searching out new books and devotions, and confusion/frustration comes from the lack of guidance from the Church hierarchy. There are very few priests who are concerned for our souls much less their own soul. Our Lady of Good Success told us this would happen in our time.
What are we to do in these confusing times? What can I do as a father and husband concerned about my soul and those of my family especially when we have been living, in many ways, of the world?
Your input is much needed.
Our response follows:
Thank you for your inquiry, which demonstrates a great trust in us that we will strive to merit.
It seems to us you are asking a basic question that many men and women formed by the Novus Ordo liturgy and the modern world are asking: How do I install harmony and order in my home and life?
Let us first address your concerns and offer some practical advice on putting order into your home.
Order in the home
A well-ordered life is pleasing to God and will help you to find the recollection that you seek.
The best way to attain recollection is to strive to make your home a safe haven from the tempests of the world, an abode of peace and recollection. This can be accomplished by having a structured family life.
Dinner should be a time for conversation led by the father, not a time for cell phones
The dinner time, especially, should be the time for conviviality among all the family members. This is the time to discuss the interesting facts of the day that have taken place, pertinent local and world news, family stories and legends, saints of the day, or any other topic that will interest the entire family. There is an old saying that the real education is not gained in books, but at the family table. Perhaps that is why the Revolution has made so much effort to destroy the family meal.
As the father of a family, it is important to make sure that the children do not dominate the conversation and that you direct the conversation, thus moving your wife and children towards a Catholic way of analyzing and discussing events. In particular, you should guard against gossip or detraction of neighbor entering the family conversation at meals.
Prayer should be the center of family life; therefore, after establishing set meal times, it would be advisable to establish the custom of the Angelus being said by all family members (and guests) present in the home three times a day (6:00am, 12:00pm, and 6:00pm). Some families find it easiest to pray the Angelus around the table before sitting down to begin each meal. While this method is certainly acceptable, the more perfect way is to keep the exact times prescribed by the Church for the Angelus to adhere to a schedule and force everyone to pause what they are doing to lift their minds to God.
Prayer should be led with dignity, not in a casual manner
Another essential element of a well-run house that was strictly maintained in Catholic families of the past of all classes was the habit of rising early. If the whole family (excepting the very young children) is able to rise at 6:00 am and pray the Angelus together, many blessings will come to the family, and the early rising will help all its members to accomplish more in a day, if they diligently manage their time.
However, you may find that this is very difficult to do at first, especially if some household members have the bad habit of awakening late. In this case, it is best to gradually wake up earlier, moving in increments of 30 minutes earlier every week or month. Efforts should also be made to go to bed earlier.
St. John Baptiste de la Salle wisely advises, “It is quite proper, both for your health and for the good of your soul, to go to bed not later than ten o’clock and to get up no later than six in the morning. Say to yourself the words of St. Paul, and repeat them to those whom laziness keeps in bed: The time has come for us to rise from our sleep; the night is past, and the day has dawned (Rom 3:11-12). Thus you may then address God in the words of the Royal Prophet: O God, my God, I watch for you from the break of day (Ps 63:1).”
An ordered home requires a regular schedule to rise and go to bed
The Rosary should be prayed in a very respectful manner, with the parents setting the good example of kneeling devoutly (or sitting straight and still, if unable to kneel) and reciting the prayers with attention in front of a holy picture or statue. The father of the family should lead the rosary to reinforce the hierarchy in the home, speaking in an even tone without expression neither too quickly nor too slowly, but at a pace that all members can easily follow.
The Rosary is the most essential devotion for these times, as Our Lady of Fatima asked all Catholics to pray the Rosary every day. It should be the key devotion for you, more important than any novenas or other devotions that can often distract Catholics from fulfilling their daily duties.
Establishing a sense of duty
As a father of a family, it is your obligation to instill a sense of duty in your children. Children should not be idle, nor should they be playing all day. Every member of a family has duties to fulfill to make the household run well.
Sons should assist their father in learning his trade or doing outdoor chores
Modern family life normally reflects the complete opposite of this order. Spontaneous, vulgar, and chaotic, the normal household of our days creates an atmosphere from which all members wish to escape. This is why the children move out of the home as soon as they are able and the parents spend all their time doing things outside of the home or driving their children to a non-ending series of classes, activities and sports practices. This is unfortunately true even in many traditional homes.
The only way to remedy this evil is to make your home the center of your family life through order, courtesy and innocent amusements.
We recommend putting away your television, or strictly limiting its use, for this is the source of destruction and impurity that has polluted many a wholesome family. Good entertainment can be found in going on walks around the neighborhood, visiting local parks, singing folk songs and hymns, playing musical instruments, telling stories and reading books aloud together. A scheduled time in the evening can be set for reading aloud or singing together, and you will soon find that all will begin to look forward to those gatherings. For a list of good books to read, see here.
To become more recollected, it would be good for you to limit the amount of time you spend on the internet and reading books. The good advice that priests gave Catholics of the past was to read one good spiritual book for at least 15 minutes every day and to finish that book before moving on to a new one.
Singing and storytelling - the sound family recreations of the past
We believe you will find our family collection (Catholic Manual of Civility, Courtesy Calls Again, and Restoring the Family) helpful. You may also benefit from reading articles on our Manners, Customs, and Clothing page, Women and Men in Society page, and Formation of Children and Youth page. The Saints of the Day by Prof. Plinio offers a historical perspective on the Saint and a practical application to our lives.
To assist you in achieving the spirit of contemplation, we would also suggest that you read the series we posted on True and False Happiness by Prof. Plinio.
Following the same advice on reading books, it would be good to read only one or two articles a day, think about what you read, and make concrete resolutions to apply the principles or advice to your daily life. In this way, you will find a balance in your online reading and will not find yourself neglecting your duties by spending hours in front of a phone or computer.
The father points out a beautiful sunset to his family
A Catholic ambience requires more than to simply have Catholic pictures on the wall or a statue of Our Lord and the Sacred Heart installed in a prominent place. The ambience reflects the soul of the family, its way of being and thinking and understanding the world. It plays as important a role in the formation of the children as the books they read and the prayers they say.
May Our Lady, her Divine Son and the great St. Joseph help you to become the model husband and father you aspire to be.
Respice stellam, voca Mariam [Look to the Star. Call on Mary].
A sense of duty can be established in a child
at a very young age
- Some spiritual books we recommend are listed below:
● True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis Grignon de Montfort
● The Glories of Mary by St. Alphonsus Liguori
● Uniformity with God’s Will by St. Alphonsus Liguori
● An Introduction to the Devout Life by St. Francis de Sales
● The Imitation of Christ by Thomas Kempis
● The City of God by Mary of Agreda
Other books that give an understanding of the crisis in the Church and Society:
● Revolution and Counter-Revolution by Plinio Corrêa de Oliveira
● Americanism and the Anti-Christian Conspiracy by Msgr. Henri DeLassus (soon to be published on our website)
● Liberalism is a Sin by Félix Sardà y Salvany
Posted October 7, 2022