I was really inspired by the extra daily reading on CatholicCulture.org last week, “A Parent’s Blueprint for Making Youth Holy” by Fr. Daniel Egan, S.A.. (1956)
It reminded me that I have much to learn/review about how grace plays a crucial part in making a marriage holy and fulfilling. It also renewed my confidence in our family’s decision to homeschool. What sparked my interest most, though, was Fr. Egan’s points about how the graces from the Sacrament of Matrimony are guaranteed to be available to parents to help their children grow in holiness.
In case anyone were to doubt the positive role of parents in the sanctification of youth, it may be well to remember that this is actually one of the primary ends of marriage. And because it is, Our Blessed Lord has mercifully arranged it so that every valid, Christian marriage guarantees husband and wife all the graces they need to cooperate in their children’s sanctification. This is so, because it is impossible to have a valid Christian marriage without its being a holy Sacrament. The contract is the Sacrament. The mutual consent is the outward sign which gives grace. That is why those making this contract confer the Sacrament on each other. The priest is just the witness.
So, all the graces that my husband and I need to help our children to be holy are available to us through the Sacrament of Marriage. While we are in the state of grace, we can access grace from God and transmit it to our children:
By nature and by grace, Christian fathers and mothers in a valid marriage are God’s human instruments of grace. They not only sanctify each other, but most certainly sanctify their children.
Have confidence that you, the parent, can raise happy, God-loving children. It is by God’s design that the parents have the most influence on their children:
More than any retreat or mission, more than any spiritual book of exercise, yes, more than any priest or religious, parents themselves, in Holy Marriage, can lead their own children so very close to God. They can do this by the graces they channel into the souls of their children and by the power of example.
But how do we access the graces? I am not a theologian by any means, so correct me if I’m wrong: if I am in the state of grace, I can pray for patience, and I will receive the grace to act patiently. Then I must cooperate with grace by saying no to impatience, and saying yes to patience. The Holy Ghost will lead me, and strengthen me, to act patiently.
In a valid Catholic marriage, husband and wife receive Sacramental graces AND Sanctifying graces. Whenever we are confused about how to handle a child’s new inclination to some bad habit or sin, God is there, ready to give you understanding and grace to handle the situation with love, patience, and guidance. God IS a loving Father Who wants to help us in every way He can.
In other words, husband and wife do not receive all the grace of the Sacrament at one time. Rather, once they enter this sacramental state they have the right to receive all the actual graces especially needed to fulfill the ends of marriage.
But one of the final ends of marriage is the sanctification of children. Therefore, parents must receive the actual graces to accomplish that end! They receive those sacramental graces as they are needed and when they are needed.
We are on the surest of theological grounds in stating that because one of the primary ends of marriage is the sanctification of children, Christians who validly enter that state and put no obstacle in the way are guaranteed, not only Sanctifying Grace, but a very special sacramental grace to enable them to sanctify their children.
I realize this post barely scratches the surface of the graces of Matrimony, but it makes me excited to know that there is so much to learn, and how happy and hopeful that makes me! Knowing there is help from Heaven to raise my kids brings me peace of mind.
May God bless all parents and children throughout the world!
(All quotes were taken from A Parent’s Blueprint for Making Youth Holy” by Fr. Daniel Egan, S.A. It is part of a larger work published in 1956 titled “Sanctity and Success in Marriage”…I will have to search for that later! I highly recommend reading the entire article – he lays out 6 qualities of holy parents, and it is overall very encouraging.)