This talk was transcribed digitally and will be edited in the future.
Today is Friday, July 9, and I received or we received an email from a Catholic mother who had questions about how to deal with a child that fussed and complained about studying. And throughout my 20 years of teaching, and 12 years or 13 years of, of work in the homeschool community, the question of the discipline of children has always been one of the top three topics that parents have asked about. And so today, while on my walk, I’m going to meditate on this question of how to discipline children. And this is one of those topics where I have to say that most Christian parents want results that they don’t deserve. And what I mean by that is they they ask for help on a topic like this on a topic, like how to discipline your children. And this is obviously one of the most important topics in life. And if we were to look and examine how much actual time and energy parents have invested in getting real answers to this question, in comparison to the importance of the question, we’ll find that that that number is ridiculously low. And so the expectation that we’re going to succeed in this most important task in human life with minimal engagement is ridiculous. And parents, what they’re asking for, they’re seeking results that they don’t deserve. The work of raising children is the most important moral duty that any Christian can have, who decides to get married, and bear children. Once we make that decision, to produce children, we’re now morally bound to the obligation to raise them according to God’s will. Of course, that assumes we even know God’s will, which in many cases is a false assumption. Many parents just think that they’re going to pop kids out one after another, and send them to school someplace, just throw money at the children and make all their problems go away. But that doesn’t work. Jesus said, How hard is it for the rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. And if throwing money at problems was an option, the opposite would be true. The rich would be the ones who are able to fulfill their moral duties and the poor, would be most miserable. And yet, Jesus says, Blessed are the poor. So this whole idea that you’re going to bear children, and then just throw money at their needs, and make it all go away, do whatever you want for money, and as long as their money. Everything will be fine. It’s just a fantasy. In fact, the most terrible families are often families of the wealthiest celebrities. And if you think about the best families that you know, well, I can’t really say that because the judgment of what makes a good family and a bad family is distorted today by false standards and superficial judgments. So I’m just going to say upfront that I think that many parents are suffering the consequences of their failure to make The work of parenting a priority. We can see this clearly by how many mothers go to work as if raising the children is is not as important as making more money. And for the fathers, having your wife go and increase the family income is more important than having that woman home, supervising and caring for the children. It’s obvious we don’t take this duty seriously. Now, when we talk about disciplining children, what parents normally mean by that question is, what tricks Can you teach me to make my kids good. And there’s no such trick. Nor is making your kids good, your actual duty. So in this talk, what I’d like to get into are some of the principles that Christian parents need to think about the need to direct all of their thoughts and actions on parenting. Because we need to remove as many false ideas as we need to install many true ideas. And this is a very complicated subject, not because the subject itself by its nature is complicated. But because in modern society, such a mess has been made of it. So if you’re looking for the magic technique for how to spank your child, this is not the talk for that. That’s the kind of shallow nonsense you can find in some Protestant book. We’re going to get into the real questions of parenting, and disciplining children, we’re going to focus on principles that apply in all circumstances, not in silly techniques. And as I said, if you’re just interested in trying to make your children do what you say, like little slaves, you’d be better off looking for some Protestant book that gives you the 10 steps for how to correctly spank your children. But that’s not what I’m going to talk about, I’m going to address the real problems and tell you how to solve them. And then you’re going to choose to do it or to not do it. And that makes a perfect segue into this talk about principles. Before we get into our children, though, start talking about what other people should do. You can see that’s, that’s already into the problem. It’s a talk about what other people should do, what our children should do, how to make our children do what they’re supposed to do. Once we start talking like that, we’re already into the problem. Or we’re already we’re already overcome by the problem. So let’s stop and before we even talk about any children, let’s talk about ourselves. The reason we’re interested in this question about disciplining our children is because our children are subject to us and commanded to obey their parents. The commandment is actually honor your mother and father, which is broader than merely obey your parents. But St. Paul does explicitly say, children obey your parents. So we talk about this question of discipline and parenting, meaning, how do we make our children obedient? And yet, we ourselves every one of us, is, in the same way subject to superiors and commanded to be obedient. For example, my wife is commanded to be obedient to me, no matter what any foolish modern people say. That’s the true commandment and duty of a wife. wives obey your husbands. That’s what St. Paul says explicitly inspired by the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. That’s not some archaic Jewish law from Leviticus. That’s a New Testament, apostolic Christian teaching. Wives obey your husbands. wives are commanded to obey their husbands, with the same authority that children are commanded to obey their parents. So before we talk about making our children obedient, mothers should ask, am I obedient? Am I obedient? Do I model for my children? The spirit of obedience? And if not, then what are you even talking about? When it comes to the children, you’re going to exercise your parental authority and command their obedience. When you yourself, refuse to be obedient, and explain it away as some kind of archaic moral code that doesn’t apply in our society. Well then say the same thing about children obeying their parents. And excuse your children from all obedience, let them do what they want. So if you’re concerned sincerely with the discipline of your children, and you don’t want to be a hypocrite, the kind of person that Jesus condemns, then you have to first ask whether or not you’ve disciplined yourself, because your life as a mother, as a wife, is your children’s primary model. For obedience, your children should be able to look up at their mother and see how she acts towards their father and learn from her behavior. What obedience looks like, what obedience sounds like. So let’s think about that. First. What has your children’s experience been? When we consider them when we consider the model, the primary model of obedience in their life, their mother, let’s consider what kind of model they’ve had. And what they’ve seen, in terms of what obedience looks like now, if your children have watched you, throughout their life, disagree with your husband, fight with your husband, refuse to do what your husband tells you to do. Maybe even speak badly of your husband in the presence of your children. How in the world, do you think that you’re going to turn around and start giving your children commands and appealing to what the Bible as the authority for why they should obey you? Are you going to read to them the passage about wives obeying their husbands or just the passages about children obeying their parents, or really, children obey your mother because the command for children to obey their parents assumes that in that parent relationship, the wives are obedient to the husband. So ultimately, the command Children, obey your parents is really a command. Children. Obey your fathers. Because your mother can’t be commanding anything that’s contrary to the will of the Father, who is the head of the household. So before we talk about disciplining children, let’s start with mother are you providing your children with an exemplary model of obedience? For them to watch and learn from? Question number one. Question number two, asks the same question of the fathers. fathers are not some kind of independent kings. In charge of their own lives, they themselves are subject to obedience. And this is at two different levels. First of all, they’re subject to the laws of the state. Again, St. Paul, the same St. Paul, who tells wives to be obedient to husbands, tells men to be obedient to the government. Same authority, same author, the same author who says children obey your parents, the same author who says wives, obey your husband, obey your husbands. The same author says, men obey the government, Romans, chapter 13. Go read it. Romans chapter 13. St. Paul teaches that Christians are to be subject to every governing authority. So at one level, men, the heads of the households, with their households under them, are to be obedient to the government. on another level, men as heads of households are commanded to be obedient to the hierarchy of the church, not to their priest, because we choose our priests. So to pretend that you’re obedient to your chosen priest is faking it. You’re not commanded to be obedient to the priest whom you choose. You’re commanded to be obedient to the hierarchy of the church that begins with the Pope, and extends to the bishops. and respect is to be shown to the priest. Not because the priest is himself worthy of any respect for his own merit or his own person, but because he is the minister appointed over you by the bishop. And the bishop is the authority appointed over you, by the Pope. You’re commanded to obey those who rule over you in the church. It stated explicitly in the book of Hebrews, I don’t have the verse reference in my head, but you’re commanded explicitly to obey the prelates or clergy, the hierarchy of the church. So again, the question comes back to fathers and asks, What has your model of obedience looks like look like? Are you one of these Catholic fathers who walks around criticizing the pope talking about things that you don’t have any knowledge of, except through gossip stories pass through the media? Or through some other? gossiping Catholics? Do you walk around fussing about the church fussing about the duties of the Christian life? Do you neglect the duties of the Christian life? Make justifications for why you don’t do this or why you don’t obey the precepts of the church. Why you don’t obey church teaching? Have your children seen in you a model of obedience to the government or do they Hear Big Mouth dad criticizing elected officials talking about which laws he likes and doesn’t like which laws Hello, obey and not obey? What is the model of an obedient father looked like through the eyes of your children? Have they been able to learn the spirit of obedience from their father and his obedience? Or do they see in their father the spirit of disobedience that the Father hypocritically yells at them for? Now, I already know the excuses and the responses that will come up in the minds of these parents. They’ll say things like, well, we’re not supposed to obey our bishops, if they tell us to do something that’s against God’s law. And that’s true. But the problem with that argument is that I can guarantee that you can’t demonstrate that what your bishops have commanded you is contrary to God’s law. What you’re really saying is that you don’t think you should obey a bishop who tells you to do something that you don’t like, or that you don’t feel comfortable with. And if that’s if that’s the reality, then what is obedience, the whole idea of obedience, assumes assumes some disagreement, because obedience. Another way of expressing obedience is to be subject to someone. And what this means is, if one person says I should do this, and I want to do that, obedience means I don’t do what I want to do. I do what this other person wants me to do. That’s obedience. So when you’re commanded to obedience, you are told to do what someone else wants you to do, whether or not you want to do it. The context of talk about obedience is usually things that we don’t want to do, but are commanded to do. So if you’re going to raise this argument, that we’re not required to obey any commands that contradict God’s laws, then you would first need to demonstrate. And what that means is to prove with absolute certainty. That in light of God’s commandments, what you’re being asked to do, is impossible to reconcile with God’s commandments. The burden would be on you to demonstrate that what you’re being asked to do, cannot be reconciled with God’s law. And I can guarantee you that if a bishop has told you to do something, or if a Pope has told you to do something, I can guarantee you that it’s not contrary to God’s law. You simply don’t like it. That’s all. Most of the time these complaints are raised with issues of liturgical preferences. But the liturgy is completely subject to the authority of the church. So these appeals to this, this imaginary law of God that bishops and Pope’s apparently rejected laid is just a fantasy. And children say the same thing. And wives say the same thing. Well, I’m not supposed to obey my husband, if he tells me to do something that’s contrary to God’s law. What does that even mean? What does that even mean? Sure, sure. If If a husband commanded you to go and prostitute yourself to make some money, you could raise an objection and say, No, this is this is contrary to God’s law. God says, You shall not commit adultery, this is ridiculous. If your husband tells you to go and murder someone to go poison, your neighbor, Hey, honey, Here, take this arsenic, and go have tea with the neighbor and go put this arsenic in her tea and killer. You’re right, you’re right. You have the right to disobey your husband when he tells you to murder people. Or when he tells you to steal from the grocery store, you know how your husband always tells you to go steal from the grocery store. When he tells you to go steal from the grocery store? You have the right to say, No, no, I’m not going to go steal from the grocery store. You’re right, you’re right. You don’t have to obey your husband. All the times when he when he tells you to break God’s commandments. You’re right. But the real problem is, when does your husband tell you to break God’s commandments? When does your husband tell you to steal, or murder? Or committed adultery? Or to covet your neighbor’s possessions? When does your husband command you to break the 10 commandments. What you’re probably talking about is your husband is commanding you to do something that you don’t believe God positively commands you in the text of Scripture. So for example, just to take an extreme example, let’s say your husband commanded you, that you should wear a burqa head covering like a Muslim women like a Muslim woman. And that was your husband’s command, you must wear a burqa, cover your whole head and face. And here you are the wife commanded by the Holy Spirit to be obedient to your husband. And you put your foot down and say, No, I’m not going to wear this face covering. Because it’s not God’s Will a timeout hold on God’s will, is that you will obey your husband. What you’re trying to say is that God has somewhere said that a Christian may not wear a face covering. But there’s no such command. And so what you’re trying to argue is that because God has never commanded women to wear face coverings that the husband has no right to command it, and you’re wrong. I don’t care what you say, I don’t care. What 1000 people around you say you’re wrong. God has commanded you to obey your husband. And if I said this was an extreme example, if your husband chose to tell you that you must wear a face covering then you should. And I don’t care how upset that makes you feel. That would be within your husband’s authority to tell you to wear a burqa like a Muslim woman living in Saudi Arabia. That would be within his authority. And you can argue that because God did not command you to wear a burqa that you don’t have to because God did command you to Obey your husband. And so if your husband commands you to wear a burqa, that is within God’s commandments to you, as a woman, as a wife. Now, that’s an extreme and probably ridiculous example. But I use the extreme example, to make a point. It is commanded by God through the commandment, to obey your husband. And when women object to this idea of their husband telling them what to do, it’s because they argue that their husband only has authority to tell them to do things that God has explicitly and directly told women to do, and that’s false. what God has explicitly told women to do, is obey their husbands. what God has explicitly told men to do, is obey the governing authorities. what God has explicitly told men to do, is obey the hierarchy of the church. And in the same way, God has commanded children to obey their parents. So God has never said that children need to go to bed at 10 o’clock at night. But God has told children to obey their parents. And if a child’s father says, You must go to bed at 10 o’clock at night, that’s a commandment from God, to that child. Because God said to the child, obey your parents. So to appeal to the Bible and say, Where does it say in the Bible, that I need to go to bed at 10 o’clock? Oh, I can very easily show you where the Bible says that you need to go to bed at 10 o’clock. It says it right here. Right here in the New Testament, right here in Ephesians. It says, Children, obey your parents. That’s where it says to you to go to bed at 10 o’clock, period. And that principle of obedience and authority is true of children’s obedience to their parents, a woman’s obedience to her husband, and a man’s obedience to His secular and ecclesiastical authorities. And so the first thing, if we’re going to talk about how to discipline your children, the first issue that we have to deal with is this question of whether or not the father is himself an obedient man, whether the mother is herself an obedient woman, and then with that excellent model, in the daily sight of those children, whether those children can learn to become obedient children. If the parents do not give their children, that model of life, then this discussion is over. Because you’re just a hypocrite, and it’s, it’s, you’re never going to have your children’s respect. It may work when your children are five, and they’re afraid of getting their butts smacked. It may work when your children are 10. And you can take their dinner away and they’re hungry. But when your children are 15 and 17. It’s not going to work. They’re going to see right through you. And worse than that, they’re going to associate this religion that you shake over their head. They’re going to associate that religion with your disgusting hypocrisy You’re going to fulfill what Jesus warns about. When he says, If any of you causes one of these little ones to stumble, it would be better for you that a millstone were hung around your neck and you’re thrown into the sea, then that one of these little ones should be scandalized. By your behavior. You imagining and blaming all kinds of things for your children’s behavior, oh, the world, oh, there’s media, all the television, all these video games on their phones, oh, everything, you may be the stumbling block in your children’s lives because obedience is very difficult. Obedience requires trust. Obedience requires trust, we submit our will to the will of another. Because we trust that it will be well with us if we do so. Obedience requires trust. And your hypocrisy is the greatest obstacle to trust. And when your children reach the age of 18, in America, at least, they have the right to walk out your front door and never come back. And you can yell at them and stomp your feet and say whatever you want. But they have the right when they turn 18 years old, to walk out your front door and never come back. And when they’re 15 years old, 16 years old, 17 years old, they’re going to realize that and they’re just going to be counting down the days until they can split. And so this hypocrisy. While it may work, when the children are little, and they don’t know how the world works, and you’re able to terrify them with ghost stories about how God is going to throw them into hell. If they don’t obey Mommy, the way mommy doesn’t obey daddy. It may work with a little child who you can beat and starve and make miserable. But it’s not going to work with a teenager. The closer they get to 18, the more they’re going to refuse. And so this issue of obedience, no matter what you say, with all your clever American responses, they’re not Christian responses. They’re just American, democratic nonsense. That has nothing to do with Christianity. You’ve learned these ideas from the world. You’ve learned what to say from the world. You’ve haven’t learned these things from any saints from you haven’t learned them from Sacred Scripture. You haven’t learned them from the Catechism. You’ve taken things said by unbelievers in the world. You’ve taken things done by unbelievers in the world and you’ve brought them into your Christian life and pretend that they somehow come from Christianity. For example, secular democracy has given women the right to vote politically, contrary to their husband. Well, that’s very cute. But that’s political. That’s got nothing to do with domestic government. You can have your silly vote in the presidential election or voting for a senator or or a representative or a mayor. But when you vote contrary to your husband, all you do is cancel out your husband’s vote and make your family irrelevant. You don’t actually accomplish anything. You simply make your family’s vote zero But that political right to express your will, has nothing to do with the household or the family. That political right was given to you by the secular government. And it only applies to the secular government. It doesn’t apply to your family doesn’t apply to your relationship with your husband, or your children. The same thing is true for a man, because you have the right to vote according to your own will. And the church doesn’t have the authority to tell you how to vote, or at least, Americans say that. That right to vote has nothing to do with the church. It has nothing to do with the officials and leaders of the church, the church is not a democracy. You don’t vote for bishops. You don’t elect a pope. That political right to vote has nothing to do. The bill of rights with freedom of speech and all of these different political ideas, that has nothing to do with the household, that has nothing to do with the church. That has nothing to do with real life with, with morality every day. If you take those ideas, which were invented by men who weren’t even Catholics, and drag them into Catholic life, you’re not living like a Catholic, you’re just living like an American and somehow confusing American life with Catholicism. So the first concern, the first question, when we consider the discipline of children, his children learn primarily through imitation. And therefore, if children learn primarily through imitation, what have you given them to imitate? Have you given them obedience, to imitate? have when they sit with you? Is the room filled with a spirit of obedience? Or is the room filled with a spirit of independent individualism? If the air the children have breathed, every day of their lives, has been this air of independent individualism? Where will they learn obedience? If the spirit of the room in which the children live with their mother during the day, is filled with a spirit of independent, willful individualism, and not with a spirit of obedience, and subjection, voluntary subjection? Are you going to yell at the children for imitating your own behavior? Are you going to pretend Something is wrong? Because your children possess your spirit? What are you talking about? Your children are exactly what they should be given their environment. They’ve been raised under the influence of the spirit of disobedience. And they imitate and live themselves according to that same spirit of disobedience. You expect something different? How is it reasonable for you to expect something different? When Jesus came into the world, how did he lead people to obedience? he himself was obedient unto death. When he lived, he said to his disciples, come follow me and he simply lived and oh beauty of life, in their presence for them to watch. And they saw how he lived every moment of every day. And he modeled for them a life of obedience that ended in crucifixion. And his disciples who became the Apostles of the church, his disciples learned what obedience looks like. And this is why the apostles could turn around and teach the Christians. This isn’t Philippians chapter two, the apostles could turn around and say to the Christians, have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus. And he then goes on in chapter two of Philippians, to explain how Jesus was God and yet accepted humiliation to become men. And as a man, he lived as if he was a slave. And we know the life of Jesus, he lived in poverty. His birth, was dishonorable. He was born in a barn. He was born. Remember, he was born in Bethlehem, because of the census, there was no place for him to stay, his birth was poor. And he chose that. He accepted that Mary accepted that. And then Jesus lived the life of a hermit. He lived in slept in the mountains. He wandered from city to city and taught. People helped him by providing for his basic needs, he ate with people, and drank with people because he, because he was a wandering teacher. All he had were the clothes on his back. When he was cursed by others, he blessed them. When people struck him, he didn’t respond, he didn’t retaliate. But he obeyed his father’s commands at every moment, of every day, and that obedience led to his crucifixion, which he accepted quietly. when describing his obedience, the Scriptures say he was led like a lamb to the slaughter. He gave His disciples a model of obedience. And when he commanded them, he said, Go and do likewise. And that’s what the apostles did. And that’s what Christianity is. Christianity is simply imitating Christ. That’s why the most popular Christian book other than the Bible, the most popular Christian book ever written, is Thomas UC campuses book titled, on the imitation of Christ, because that’s what Christianity is. St. Peter writes, he left us an example, that we should follow in his steps. And this idea of modeling obedience, leaving an example. And then the followers following in his steps, imitating his life and behavior is the model for Christian discipleship. And if a mother and father are not models of obedience, then it’s unreasonable for them to expect to find obedience in their children who are going to imitate them in their lives. So my first challenge to parents and we’re already at 49 minutes here, my first challenge to parents if you’re interested in having obedient children, the first question is obedient to whom, and you should say obedient to God. Well, that’s putting things out of order, your children’s first obedience. should be obedience to their parents. Your children can’t understand what obedience to God even means. They have to learn first obedience to parents. And when they learn obedience to parents, then as they mature, if they’re receiving a proper education, they will be able to understand allegorically because of their relationship to their parents, what it means to be obedient to God. If they never learn what it means to be obedient to parents, it would be like a child who never saw a fig tree, trying to understand Jesus’s parable of the fig tree. How can they understand the parable of lost sheep? For example, if they’ve never seen a sheep, if they don’t even know what the word sheep means? The parable can have no meaning. And if the natural life of a family is not a part of the child’s experience, as it’s supposed to be? How can the child understand heavenly things? When they don’t have the opportunity to learn? The earthly things? How do you how do you expect that to happen? How can they learn to obey God whose invisible, whose commands are mysterious, and difficult? How can they learn to obey God? When they’ve never learned to obey their parents? And even further, when they’ve never seen any parents obeying God? How can a parent reasonably look at a child and expect to find in the child what they themselves? don’t practice? Is that reasonable? And so if you have a problem with disobedience in your children, before we start talking about how to address the children’s behavior, before we start talking about how to discipline the children, we have to ask, Is this obedience from children? this expectation of obedience? Is this even reasonable in your situation. If you’re going to expect obedience from your children, without modeling that obedience for them, you might as well expect your children to pay the mortgage, or buy their own groceries, or buy their own clothes or teach themselves. If they have to teach themselves obedience. You might as well just leave them to teach themselves everything to provide themselves with everything they need. If you’re not going to provide them with a model of obedience, to show them what to do. Well, then you might as well just not do anything for them. You might as well not give them their food and clothes, you might as well just send them out into the world and tell them to go by their own house. Of course, you won’t do that. Because you’ll say they’re just children. They can’t possibly buy their own house, they can’t possibly earn their own food and clothing. They’re just children. And yet, when it’s time to live a virtuous life. All of a sudden we act like the children are are shocking us because they’re not acting better than their parents. And this is the first question that we have to ask if we’re going to talk about the discipline of children and I intend To go ahead, and obviously, this is going to take a number of talks, but I intend to go ahead and get into these details of disciplining children. But I don’t think the children are being given a fair chance. I know in my own life. On many occasions, I’ve gotten angry with my children about things. And when I was about to blow up on them and yell at them and get get upset, I checked myself and said, Do you do these things? are you yelling at them about something that you yourself don’t even do? Is it reasonable for you to expect your children to have done well in this situation, when you haven’t done the work of a father in this situation. And I think that one of the reasons that I enjoy a good relationship with my older children, is not because I’ve been an ideal Father, I’m a first generation Christian myself. I’ve had to figure everything out on the fly. And I’ve made many mistakes. But the one thing that I would say has saved my relationship with my children, is that I’ve always been honest. I’ve always examined myself. And I’ve always accepted the blame. For those things that were my fault. For example, there have been times when many times when I’ve woken a child up in the middle of the night, to tell them I’m sorry for something. Because I couldn’t sleep thinking about it. I couldn’t stand the thought of the child, going to bed knowing that I had done something wrong. And thinking that I didn’t care about it. I’ve confessed mistakes to my children. I’ve confessed sins to my children and asked for forgiveness. And I’ll tell you what, every time that I’ve ever confess the fault to my children, their face has lit up when I did so. Every time that I’ve ever pulled a kid aside, and said, Listen, I’m sorry for what I said before. When I said this, or this, or I’m sorry, I’m sorry, how I acted before when I got angry and yelled at you for for this. I was being selfish. Every time I’ve confessed my faults in my sins to my children. I’ve seen their face light up. I’ve never had a child respond to a confession with indifference or coldness. Because confessing our faults is real Christianity. Making mistakes is not a problem. And I can prove this. I have some time in this talk, and let me just use a parable from Jesus to to show that our faults are really not to danger in our Christian lives. I’d like to I’d like to ask you to take some time to read in Matthew chapter 18. The Parable of the king and his servant, Matthew chapter 18. Jesus tells this parable. The context is St. Peter asks Jesus, if my brother sins against me, How many times should I forgive him? Seven times. So, Peters asking like what’s the limit to this forgiveness thing? Because this could get pretty ridiculous. You know, I’ve got stuff to do. I don’t have time for these people with all their nonsense. Look how many times like, if a person does the same thing wrong, and sins against me? How many I mean, you’re telling me to forgive him? But But like, how many times? How many times? Do I need to forgive this fool? For the same thing? Before it’s just like enough? Seven times. And Jesus’s response to him, his first response is no. You should forgive him 70 times, seven times. And then Jesus tells this parable. And the parable goes like this. I’ve actually reflected on this recently. So I think I can recite the parable pretty accurately, Jesus tells or at least paraphrase it. Jesus tells this parable of the king and his servant, he says, there was a king, who had a servant, pay attention to the details. There was a king or a Lord, I think it actually says, Lord, there was a lord who had a servant who owed him a great sum of money. And I think the amount given his 10,000 talents, which is an incredible sum of money, there was a lord who had a servant who owed him a great sum of money. And he called the servant before him. And he said, pay what you owe. And the servant said, I can’t. And so the Lord said to his ministers there with him, he said, Take this man, and sell him, sell his wife, sell his children, and sell all his possessions, and pay the debt. Very strict judgment. But just pay what you owe. The servant, hearing the judgment, got down on his knees, and begged the Lord to be patient. He said, be patient with me. And I will pay you everything. Be patient with me, and I will pay you all. So pay attention to the details. The servant owed a great debt to his Lord. And obviously, that debt was accumulated through many faults. Whether this servant was entrusted with money to go into business for his Lord, this debt was accumulated through many faults 10,000 talents worth of errors. His Lord demands that this be repaid. The servant begs for patience, just for patience. Be patient and I will repay all the Lord. Jesus says when he heard the servant begging him had compassion on him. Listen to this. He did not say okay, okay. No problem. Take your time and make repayment. What do you need? two years, three years? How much time do you need? He didn’t respond to the request of the servant to be patient. Jesus says the Lord looked upon his servant and had compassion on him and listen to this canceled the debt canceled for gave the debt that’s the reality of our relationship with God. we incur Infinite debt, by our daily sins by our errors by our foolish decisions and mistakes we make, the debt that we owe to God is infinite. And God is God would be perfectly just at any moment to call us into His presence, and say, pay me what you owe. And he would be perfectly just to take everything from us to reclaim what was his perfectly just perfectly just regardless of what we’ve done, regardless of efforts was made to reform ourselves, God would be perfectly just to just destroy us and reclaim his possessions. And all that we can say is, be merciful. Be merciful, have mercy on me. I’m sorry, please be merciful. And the response to that servant, as I said, was not was not mercy. It was far beyond anything that would be considered merciful. Giving the servant five years to repay would be mercy. But Jesus says the Lord, forgive the debt. And this is our relationship with God. God is willing, if we’re humble, God is willing to cancel our debt. And he does, he cancels it. He cancels it at baptism. And if we make a good confession, not just go to confession. If we make a sincere confession, with contrition with sincerity and honesty. God doesn’t give us time to repay him. He’s willing to cancel the debt. And he does. That’s what absolution is absolution is just striking out the debt. And the mercy that we receive is just incredible. But the parable goes on. And then the parable Jesus says, that servant went home, having his whole debt canceled, went home. And then when he was back with his and this is important with his fellow servants. I admit that I’ve read this passage wrong. For years. I thought that this parable was about a man who was forgiven by his Lord of a great debt, but then went and treated his servants mercilessly. But I was wrong. The parable actually says, he went back and found one of his fellow servants. So this isn’t one of his servants under him. This is one of his fellow servants in other In other words, one of his Lord’s servants. And he found one of his fellow servants. And it says, This fellow servant owed him a small sum, pennies or dollars as it were. And this servant who had been forgiven his entire debt, grabbed his fellow servant by the throat, and said, pay me what you owe. And his sir and this fellow servant responded to him with the same words that he spoke to his Lord. His fellow servants said, be patient with me and I will repay all but he refused to listen to his fellow servant and he brought that fellow servant to the courts as it works. And had him thrown in prison until the debt was repaid. Now let me ask you, you yelling at your children, for their failure to obey you. You’re yelling at your children, for failing to obey you, as if they’re disobedience is impossible for you to understand? Is your treatment of your children like this servant, grabbing his fellow servant by the throat, and saying, pay me what you owe? Do you treat other people, including your spouse, your children? Do you treat them as fellow servants as one who has been forgiven, a debt that should have cost you everything. The fact that you’re not sold into some kind of slavery or destroyed is entirely because of the kindness of God. And you walk around as a Christian because God is merciful to you? Do you turn around and grab your fellow servant by the throat and demand payment when you yourself are entirely dependent on forgiveness and cannot repay an infinitely greater debt than anything that your children owe to you or your wife owes to you. You see, the spirit of obedience begins with gratitude. The spirit of obedience begins with an awareness of God’s mercy of our deserving total destruction. But realizing that God is patient with us, that God just wipes away our deaths absolves them cancels them. And not only that, but the only reason why God can cancel those debts is because Christ suffered undeservedly for us and offered himself as a payment on all of our debts. When you look at your children, do you act towards them? Like a person who is going to be thrown into hell? unless God shows him mercy? Or do you act like a person who pays all his debts because you don’t pay all your debts, you may pay off your credit card. You may be up to date on your mortgage payments. Your car payment may be in good standing. You may have some money in the bank, but you don’t pay your debts. You don’t do what you should. And you live by mercy and forgiveness and patience. God looks upon you as a human and recognizes your weakness and is merciful to you because he knows that you’re weak. He knows that you’re ignorant. He knows that you’re tempted in many ways. He knows that you’re subject to all kinds of pressure to disobey Him. And what he asks of you are two things. First, he asks you to tell the truth. And we do that through confession not just to God in the sacrament of confession, but to anyone that we sin against anyone who we offend with our behavior. God asks us to tell the truth. And that’s what confession is. It’s simply confessing the truth. And as I said, not just to God in the sacrament of confession, which many Catholics do, but to everyone that we transgress God’s laws or offend in any way. That’s the first thing God asks of us. That’s a condition of our forgiveness, and salvation. The second thing God requires of us is that we walk away from him. Having been absolved of all of our debt. He asks that when we walk away from him, we treat every other person as someone who has been forgiven all his debt. The way we talk to people, the way we talk about people, the way we treat people, the way we walk, the way we act, the way we order our life. He asks that we remember his mercy in everything that we do, and that we do to others, what we want God to do to us, on Judgement Day. Going back to the parable, after this servant, treats his fellow servant, harshly. The other fellow servants see this, and it says they’re grieved when they see what happens, and they go, and they tell the Lord, what happened. They tell the Lord that this servant after having all of his debt forgiven when, and threw one of his fellow servants into prison, over some small offense. And at that point, it says, The Lord became angry. It didn’t say he was angry about the debt in the beginning. At this point, he becomes angry. And he calls for that servant to be brought back into His presence. And when that servant is brought back into His presence, the Lord says to him, You wicked servant. Now remember, when the servant came in the first time with a huge debt, he wasn’t greeted like that. The Lord wasn’t angry. He wasn’t called wicked the first time when he had a great debt to deal with. He wasn’t called wicked. The Lord told him the fact of his debt, stated, The just act by which it could be repaid. And then when the servant responded, and asked for mercy, the Lord was compassionate, and went above and beyond anything required of him and canceled the debt. There’s never anything said in the first meeting that condemns the servant. But in the second meeting, everything is different. Great greeting is You wicked servant. And then he tells him, I forgave you all that debt. And he went and treated your fellow servant the way you did. And it says the Lord was angry with him and sent him to the tortures until all was repaid. So what we need to fear not just as parents, but as Christians in general What we need to fear is not the reality that we’ve sinned and aired in an infinite number of ways. All of that can be fixed. The primary means by which is fixed is through honesty, by confession, while contrition, we feel sorry for our sins, and that’s necessary if we actually love others. And people will know that we’re contrite, that we’re sorry for something we’ve done. If they see us going on living carelessly after we’ve told them we’re sorry, they’ll know that our confession is false, and so will God. But if our confession is sincere and true, they’re going to see that it’s true. Because we’re going to make efforts to amend our lives, our children, for example, will see that if I come to my son and say, Look, I’m sorry for how I acted, I need to stop acting like that. And I’m going to stop acting like that. With the help of God’s grace, I’m going to stop getting angry quickly, I’m going to stop being impatient. I’m sorry, the way I responded was wrong. Please forgive me. If our children see us, come to them. Tell the truth, confess our sin. And then see us amend our lives as adults, so that we don’t offend against our children anymore. They’re going to be impressed. And they’re going to know that Daddy loves them, or that Mommy loves them. They’re going to know that that day that mommy said those nasty things. She was sorry for that. And she never did it again. Or she did it again. And she was sorry for it again. And then she never did it again. They’re going to see mommy and daddy amend their lives and change. Because what they do is wrong. They’re going to learn how to confess their sins, from mommy and daddy, they’re going to learn how to amend their lives, from mommy and daddy, they’re going to know what it feels like to be sinned against by mommy and daddy. And they’re going to know what it feels like. When mommy or daddy come and confess, they’re going to know what it feels like to be a Christian. And it’s going to feel good. And they’re going to know as they grow up, they’re going to know that other people who are not Christians don’t act like mommy and daddy. They’re going to know the difference by experience. They’re going to take it for granted when they’re young. And you’re going to and this is what we’re going to talk about in future talks. We’re going to talk about the reality that children make bad choices, even when their parents do what they’re supposed to. That’s that’s a different set of discussions. But those children are going to know what it feels like to be a Christian because of their experience with their parents. And parents need to take this seriously as a matter of salvation. Because like I said, there are two things that make God angry, and that threaten our salvation. The first is that we’re not honest, that we don’t confess our faults to God and to men. And this doesn’t just mean saying the general confession at Mass. We’re talking about personal confession to people whom we offend, whom we sin against. Personal, one on one confession, to go to somebody that you’ve sinned against, and say, I’m sorry, what I said was sinful. I should not have said that. I’ve sinned against you. And I asked you to please forgive me. And with God’s help. I’m going to amend my life and I’m not going to speak like that again. That’s a side of Catholicism. we very rarely see. And we need to see it, our children need to see it. Wives need to see it from their husbands husbands need to see it from their wives. They need to model this behavior because the first thing as I said to God requires of us for salvation is that we tell the truth, that we be sorry for our sins, that we confess them and show ourselves contrite to the people, we offend, so that they’re not scandalized and hardened by our sinful behavior and lack of contrition. That sinful behavior remains in them like a disease. And when we confess our sin to them, and show ourselves contrite, by God’s grace, that disease that cancer can be taken out of their hearts. And they can see that we we love them. And we’re sorry for how we acted. But if that’s just left there, Time after time, that produces a child who doesn’t believe that his or her parents really love her or him. The second thing that God requires of us is that we live as people who are forgiven, not as people who pay their debts, not as people who do what they’re supposed to do, because that’s not true. That’s not true. None of us do what we’re supposed to do. And we’re supposed to walk, and think and talk and act like people who never do what they’re supposed to do. And when we turn around and see someone not doing what they’re supposed to do, before we start running our mouths, we’re supposed to remember that we don’t do what we’re supposed to do. We need to check ourselves. Because that response is the throttling of the fellow servant. And that could cost us our salvation. Think about when Jesus teaches the Lord’s Prayer. He says, If you do not forgive your neighbor, neither will God forgive you. All this talk in modern circles, that God’s mercy is unconditional, that forgiveness is unconditional. That’s a complete lie. God’s mercy is unconditional in the sense that he’s willing to forgive all of our sins. But it is conditional in that having been forgiven if we do not forgive others. As the parable shows us, God has the right to revoke His forgiveness. That servant whose debt was forgiven, was made to pay at all. So these two things, telling the truth, which is what we do in confession, both to the church and to everyone. We offend by our behavior, telling the truth, being truly contrite, sorry for the wrongs that we do and confessing them, acknowledging them to the people. We offend against asking for them to forgive us. And promising them that with God’s grace. We’re going to amend our lives and not do it again. And then realizing as we receive that forgiveness, and especially from the church from God received that absolution allowing that reality, to then renew our behavior and change the way We talk and act and think. So that we can model not only for our children, but for everyone around us. true Christian obedience, then we can reasonably hope to see that obedience imitated in the lives of those around us. Our obedience, our obedience, we can start to see people imitating our obedience. And that’s how we lead people, to Christ to obedience, we lead them by our own obedience, not by our talking, lecturing. We lead them by our own obedience. And that’s why, as I said before, I believe that though I’ve made many mistakes, many of them are sincere mistakes, things that I couldn’t have possibly known what I should do, and what I did, over time, turned out to be the wrong thing. Many, and then at the same time, sins where I did things that I knew I should not have done, I have always found the telling the truth about those things, owning up to them, confessing them, and then showing myself sincere, by fixing them took away any problems that might have been caused by those faults. The faults are not that important. If they’re dealt with, rightly, truthfully. And by dealing with my children, always checking myself and saying to myself, the way that I respond to this situation, to this child, who did this bad thing, is the way that God is going to respond to me. When I stand before him on Judgement Day, how do I want God? to respond to me? I’m going to ask him for mercy. And he’s going to answer me with the words that I spoke to others who asked me for mercy. When he accuses me of doing something, and I tell him that I’m sorry, he is going to respond. The way that I responded to others, how do I want him to respond to me? I want him to respond to me with mercy. And therefore, every time that I respond to a child, who’s done something bad, or someone else who offends me by their behavior, they do something evil against me. I have the opportunity to show god how he should respond to me on the Day of Judgment, and this example, of Christian obedience is the foundation of all parenting. So when we asked the question, how to discipline our children. While there’s a lot to talk about, and I’m going to talk about it in more detail in future talks, the first and most important issue of all, is that we model for everyone around us. Christian obedience. We try as hard as we can to study and know the details of God’s will. We try as hard as we can to obey God’s will in all things. When we fail, we tell the truth. We confess it, we don’t excuse it. We confess it to the church and we confess it to the people that we sinned against. And we seek to amend our lives, we seek to go back and study more, and work more, to obey God’s will. And receiving the comfort of that forgiveness. Always been comforted by the hope that God gives us. We treat others with the same mercy and patience when they sinned against us, that we want God to show us after we’ve sinned against him. If we can do that, if we can live that life, we’ll see that many of the discipline issues are either avoided, or when they need to be dealt with, can be dealt with much more effectively. Because the foundation has been properly laid in the relationship between the parent and the children. And in future talks, we’ll tease this out and see how this actually works. In the practical details of our lives with our children, and we’ll seek to answer this question how, as Christians to discipline our children. I hope that’s helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them but I but I do ask that you hang on, because we’re going to continue this discussion in future talks and get into details. I hope that’s helpful. I know it’s helpful, because it’s the truth. I know it’s helpful. As I say it as I talk about it, it’s helpful to myself. That’s why I say these. These walk talks are meditations. They’re there for my own sake. They allow me to think through things. work to articulate things more clearly, to order my own thoughts, to order my own will. And so I know that they’re helpful because they’re helpful for me. But I hope they’re helpful for you. And if you’ve listened all the way through thank you for that. I hope to continue this with more talks on the topic and get into more of the details. God bless