The Problem of Mixed Feelings and Man's Fallen Human Nature

The subject of mixed feelings is, at first, a difficult one to wrap one's mind around, but, with sufficient reflection, it is actually rather simple, though, perhaps, not so easily accomplished. It really boils down to the two Great Laws which Christ gave us:

Love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and thy whole soul, and thy whole mind, and thy whole strength.

Love thy neighbor as thyself for love of Me.

The two objects of these rules are love of God and love of self.

Because of man's fallen human nature, the loss of the indwelling of the Holy Trinity in his soul--an attachment void between man and God--man can easily love himself, but can love God only with God's grace and with great difficulty. His love of himself weighs much heavier in his soul that his love of God. Everything he does is first for love of himself. Even if it's objectively good, it's motivated by love of himself--fear of consequences, i.e. sickness, pain, scorn, loneliness, hell, etc. All of man's passions (including our children's) arise from inordinate love of self.

But when a soul dies to itself for love of God, it's love of self is counter-balanced, or even overcome by love of God, which enables the soul to love purely and choose good with ease. (Modern psychology, or more specifically, attachment theory, proves the existence of God, the truth of the Bible and the Story of the Fall, the fact and nature of man's fallen humanity, and the need for and fact of the Incarnation, Passion and Redemption of Christ, etc.! It's simple and incredible at the same time!)

In order to teach our children this we have to do it ourselves. Jesus could have redeemed the world with far less. He did not HAVE to suffer and die to the extent to which He did. But He teaches us by His example, and in order to emulate Him, and bring Him into our homes and to our spouses and children we have to do as He did, and give ALL. He gave ALL of Himself. He held back NOTHING. He suffered loneliness, abandonment, mortification of all His senses, subjection to scorn and ridicule of the cruelest nature. He embraced suffering, even kissing the Cross as it was laid upon the shredded flesh of His shoulders, and died to Himself for love of God and love of man. In the image of the cross we find the perfect balance of mixed feelings: love of man in the horizontal beam and love of God in the vertical. In order to die to ourselves we must nail our horizontal selves to the vertical beam of the Cross, to the vertical orientation of the Love of God.

The fifteen mysteries of the Rosary contain within them all the mysteries of parenthood and the attachment relationship. The seven last words of Christ from the Cross are the foundation for the seven principles for discipline that does not divide.

From the Rosary we are taught that it is good and holy to share with one another all the Joy which God has provided each of us the means to share with one another. It is the fear of spoiling our children that hurts them, not our generosity. They have the same fallen human nature we do and the fact is that all our conflicts with them arise out of theirs and our mutual self-love. We want something and they want something and the two are not the same thing. But when we want only Christ, we can love and guide them in a disinterested way which gives them the freedom to learn to love as God is calling them to. (This certainly could stand more discussion.)

At the same time, however, we should not hide ourselves or our children from Sorrow, which is God's way of inviting us to the Wedding Banquet. God knows that in order for us to come to the Banquet we have to detach from all our earthly attachments (things, honors and even friends and family--but bear with me, I mean for love of them for love of God--this we learn from Christ's example in the Sorrowful Mysteries). Suffering born with peaceful resignation is but futility sinking in--we are not made for this world, this world is passing, and we will never find true happiness in earthly attachments, only in Christ. When Jesus was in His agony in the garden, God sent an angel to comfort Him, but He did not alleviate Jesus' suffering in the least, allowing Him to be further tormented by the Devil. This was to help prepare Him for the suffering He was going to have to endure for love of God and love of Man in the work of the Redemption. When our children are suffering because of a limit setting rupture or the like, it is for us to comfort them, as angels, while the futility sinks in to their souls that no true happiness will be found in this life. Later, after the feelings subside, we can talk to them about this truth--that what they thought would make them so happy before can really never make them as happy as Jesus. Who can look at the love Christ bore us on the Cross and not feel joy and gratitude? Begin gently to show your children that nothing they want on this earth can make them as happy as knowing that God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son... This is a lesson they will learn but slowly--it is a lesson WE are still learning.

By sharing ALL the Joy, and hiding none of the Sorrow, our children and we, and the love we bear one another will give greater Glory to God and He, in turn, will glorify us.

Maturity is an ability to die to oneself. This is the Crucifixion. The Resurrection is for our children the necessary move toward detaching from us in order that they can follow their vocations. In Ps. 27:10 David writes, "When my Father and Mother forsake me, the Lord will lift me up." The Ascension. When the Lord uplifts them, the Holy Ghost will dwell in them and will inform all their thoughts, words, desires and deeds.

The last two mysteries of the Rosary aren't even in the Scriptures. Perhaps because these two mysteries are not manifested in our own lives here on earth, but in Heaven--where our Blessed Mother is honored and glorified in her Assumption and Coronation, as we shall be one day if we have lived our lives here on earth for love of God and for love of our neighbor, especially our spouse and our children, for love of Him Who gave them to us and us to them.

Attachment parenting is a type of Rule of St. Benedict for parents. Psychology has proved that these practices are good for our children on a natural level, and the mysteries of our faith demonstrate that these practices, when performed for love of God, are good for the whole family on a supernatural level. Secular attachment parenting is premised on the good will of the child. Catholic attachment parenting is premised on the good will of God, who provides for all our needs--emotional, spiritual, physical, etc., and the Divine inspirations of the Holy Ghost in the soul in a state of grace. In order to practice either "version" effectively, parents need to detach from their own will and die to the good will of another. Attachment parenting is impossible without the spirit of detachment.

Let us look to our own Blessed Mother to discover this spirit, especially as She teaches us through Her Seven Dolors. The School of Mary is also a wonderful book, deriving many rich lessons from Her life, from which we can learn all the habits of truly Catholic attachment parenting, or what could quite appropriately be called "Marian Mothering."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

hello. I am fortified just by reading this latest post. I have been praying for many months to the Blessed Mother to protect my children and help me to guide them well amidst my husband's defection from our family and the horrible example of life he has been showing them. I've kind of felt lost and alone in teaching my children the way of God and maybe have given in to a certain defeat. But at the same time I've surrendered it all to Jesus and Mary telling them I know they will not leave or forget me or my children. I do feel assurance of this. Finding your blog on this subject dear to my heart is like finding water in the dessert for me. Thank you for writing it. I've read many of the books you've got on your sidebar and now you've given me suggestions on some more to read. God Bless. I feel we are kindred spirits on some level. This is good for me because one of the things my husband has turned on me is that I am living in a "catholic fairy land" if I think I can raise our kids to embrace something better than the cultural sewage being shoved in their faces. Well, I do believe that they can indeed find The Way to life by my prayer and love and exposing them to all that is good, positive, holy and uplifting-life giving. But I am not depending on me BUT on God and the powerful intercession of Mary, our wondrous mother. They can't lose. God Bless and thank you again. Linley

Catholic Attachment Parenting

A philosophy of parenting modeled after the self-donative love exemplified in the relationship between Mary and Jesus.

1 Jn 4:18

"There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love."

Luke 1:17

" turn the hearts of the parents toward their children..."