Patience--Obedience, Humility, Charity

All parents want their children to be obedient, after all, it certainly does make our lives a lot easier! But some of those parents even want their children to have the virtue of obedience. And that is where our focus needs to be, because it's entirely possible for children to be obedient, and not have the virtue of obedience, and obedience that is not virtuous leads to death; but a child who has the virtue of obedience will also be obedient and by virtue of obedience have eternal life.

In St. Catherine of Siena's Treatise on Obedience, God the Father explains that the virtue of obedience is the fruit of charity and humility. One doesn't have to dig too deep to understand that what this really means is that the virtue of obedience cannot exist apart from love of the Cross--embracing suffering, trustfully surrendering to Divine Providence for love of God alone, not by practicing more extreme forms of mortification, but by accepting unconditionally, with blind confidence in God, whatever His will is for this particular moment, stripping ourselves of fear and anxiety. From the Dialogue (all emphasis mine), "And inasmuch as love cannot be alone, but is accompanied by all the true and royal virtues, because all the virtues draw their life from love, [Christ] possessed them all, but in a different way from that in which you do. Among the others He possessed patience, which is the marrow of obedience, and a demonstrative sign, whether a soul be in a state of grace and truly love or not. Wherefore charity, the mother of patience, has given her a sister to obedience, and so closely united them together that one cannot be lost without the other. Either thou hast them both or thou hast neither. This virtue has a nurse who feeds her, that is, true humility; therefore a soul is obedient in proportion to her humility, and humble in proportion to her obedience," and "The sign that you have this virtue is patience, and impatience the sign that you have it not..." We'll come back to this in a moment.

In the supernatural order, man was made to love as Christ loves, unconditionally, and in order to do that he must receive unconditional love, which by its very nature cannot be earned by good behavior. Parents are God's first ambassadors to their children, commissioned to bestow upon them this gift, even as the Wise Men bestowed gifts upon the Christ Child. Parents have the responsibility of being mediators of God's grace to their children by communicating to them His unconditional love, making a gift to their children of the gift of love given to them by God, through the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, Baptism, Confirmation, Confession and Holy Communion. Parents cannot give to their children what they themselves have not received by acceptance as a free gift from the font of God's mercy, merited for us who could not merit it for ourselves, by Christ through His Passion and Death on the Cross.

Returning to the Dialogue, (parenthetical expressions and bold emphasis mine) "[Christ] is the way, wherefore He said, 'He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life.' For he who travels by that way, travels in the light, and being enlightened cannot stumble, or be caused to fall, without perceiving it. For He has cast from Himself the darkness of self-love, by which he fell into disobedience; for as I spoke to thee of a companion virtue proceeding from obedience and humility, so I tell you that disobedience comes from pride (which I describe as the fear of suffering), which issues from self-love depriving the soul of humility (love of the Cross). The sister given by self-love to disobedience is impatience, and pride, her foster-mother, feeds her with the darkness of infidelity, so she hastens along the way of darkness, which leads her to eternal death."
All this to say, parents, that we cannot be satisfied with children who simply know how to be obedient out of fear of suffering/punishment. We must desire to instill virtue in our children, and we can't do that by being impatient, employing every means to produce instant obedience in them--the "definitive sign" that we ourselves lack obedience. How many times have we said these words, "You will obey me now or else!"? Love of the Cross is the means to all virtue, and we can't love the Cross without patience. We cannot instill in our children the virtue of obedience, patience, humility, if we ourselves are without virtue. When we lose our patience with our children (usually displayed by anger without meekness), because of their failure to show us obedience, or any other reason, for that matter, that's the time to ask ourselves, "What suffering am I afraid of? What cross am I running from?" Until it is recognized and embraced with faith, hope and love, we're just spinning our wheels, or even worse, driving our children from our arms and from the arms of Christ, outstretched to embrace them upon the Cross.

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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..."