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3rd Sunday after Epiphany

Duties of Christian Catholic Parents

Our Lady of the Rosary Library []

Third Sunday after Epiphany
St. Raymond of Penafort – Confessor

Lesson 33: DUTIES OF PARENTS TOWARD THEIR CHILDREN Taken from “A Brief Catechism for Adults” — available online at .

“But he that shall scandalize one of these little ones that believe in Me, it were better for him that a millstone should be hanged about his neck, and that he should be drowned in the depth of the sea.”
(Matthew 18:6)

1. To give their children the necessary food, clothing and shelter.

This obligation rests on both parents, whether living together or separated. They must also keep their children from all danger to life and protect them from possible death.

2. To give them good example.

Parents give good example by observing strictly all of their religious duties. For example: Regularly attending Mass, not eating meat on days of abstinence, carefully avoiding indecent speech, lying, cursing, criticism of others, immodesty and drunkenness.
— Parents should remember that children are great imitators, and they should be very careful of everything they do and say in the presence of their children.

3. To provide a truly Catholic home for them.

A Catholic home is one in which God and Religion are of the greatest importance.
— In the home there should be crucifixes, pictures of Jesus, the Blessed Virgin Mary and the Saints. Indecent pictures and calendars, lewd and sensational magazines, books, comic books, TV shows and videos (
) have no place in the Christian home. There should be good books, Catholic newspapers and Catholic magazines.

4. To have them baptized as soon as possible after birth.

It is a serious sin to delay the Baptism of infants, and if there is any danger to the life of the newly born baby, the priest should be called immediately.
— In danger of death, and if no priest is available, Baptism can and should be given by anyone (preferably someone other than the parents).
The one baptizing need not be Catholic; he may be of any religion or of no religion. But he must have the intention of doing what the Church does in Baptism. The procedure is: Pour water over the head of the child, saying at the same time: “I baptize thee in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.”

5. To see that they go to Confession, receive Holy Communion and receive Confirmation.

The children should be taught to go to Confession and Holy Communion regularly and frequently – every week, if possible, especially during vacation time.

6. To teach them to pray.

Daily prayers should be said together by the whole family.
— As the saying goes, “The family that prays together stays together.” The daily family Rosary will go a very long way toward ensuring that the children grow up to be good Catholics.

7. To see that they go to Mass every Sunday and on the six Holy Days.

Parents should not keep children home from Mass except for very serious reasons.

8. To see that on Ash Wednesday and the Fridays of Lent they abstain from meat altogether and that on the other Fridays of the year they refrain from meat or perform a comparable penance.

–See Lesson 43, especially Question 11 – .

9. To send them to a Catholic school.

This includes high school and college, as well as grammar school.
Parents are forbidden by Church Law to send their children to any other kind of school. [*See below for more on this subject]
— In very many cases today, the only truly Catholic school available is home schooling. Experience has shown that Catholic home schooling produces excellent results both spiritually and academically and that it brings great blessings to the family.

10. To insist that they marry in the Catholic Church.

A Catholic cannot marry except in the presence of a Catholic priest and two witnesses.
–When a son or daughter begins to think seriously of marrying, the parents should have him (or her) see the priest and receive the necessary instructions on marriage. They should encourage dating only with Catholics, or at least with non-Catholics who are willing to take a full course of instructions in the Catholic Religion. Parents commit a mortal sin by forcing or unduly persuading any of their children to marry.

11. To give them the Christian attitude on marriage and having children.

Parents should avoid complaining about the hardships of married life and joking about the sacred duties of marriage.
–The birth of another child should be a joyful occasion for the whole family so that the other children will consider having children as the greatest blessing of married life.

12. To prepare them for marriage.

The children should be taught the serious duties and responsibilities of marriage, both by word and example.
–They should also be taught the practical side of making a home, such as cleaning, cooking, sewing, repairing, caring for children, being on time, and being neat and orderly.

To avoid email filter blocks, numbers 13 and 14 are not posted here but can be viewed online at
– Lesson 33.

15. To correct their sins and faults.

It is a serious sin to neglect this duty.

16. To teach them the virtues of honesty, obedience, truthfulness, purity, and modesty in dress.

These lessons must be given early and repeated continually.

17. To teach them respect for the rights and property of others.

Many parents sin seriously by bad example in this matter.

18. To teach them respect for all lawful authority.

Children should be taught early to respect all lawful authority, especially the authority of the Church, the State and the School.

19. To give them wholesome recreation and keep them from evil companions.

The Christian home should be the center of the child’s social life, a place where he feels free to bring his companions.
— Parents should be extremely careful about allowing their children to attend motion pictures; they should also examine their comic books and govern their use of the radio and television, as well as the VCR.
Children receive many un-Christian ideas on life, marriage, crime, drinking, body piercing, etc. from these sources of entertainment.
[One can imagine what Fr. Cogan would say of modern radio, motion pictures and television.]

20. To encourage a child’s desire to be a priest, a brother or sister.

Having a priest, brother or sister in the family is one of the greatest blessings that God can give a mother and father. Instead of turning a child away from such a desire, parents should encourage the child.

— “A Brief Catechism for Adults” is available in print from .

* Christian Education

The Catholic Church has always stressed the essential need for parents to send their children to Catholic schools unless there is no other possible option. Below are teachings from 5 different Popes on the subject:

Catholic Church Teaching on Education:

– The Church cannot approve schools which exclude religion from the curriculum, both because religion is the most important subject in education, and because she contends that even secular education is not possible in its best form unless religion be made the central, vitalizing, and co-ordinating factor in the life of the child. The Church, sometimes, tolerates schools in which religion is not taught, and permits Catholic children to attend them, when the circumstances are such as to leave no alternative, and when due precautions are taken to supply by other means the religious training which such schools do not give. She reserves the right to judge whether this be the case, and, if her judgment is unfavourable, claims the right to forbid attendance” (Letter of Gregory XVI to Irish Bishops, 1831).

– “…Those parents who allow their children to frequent schools where it is impossible to avoid the loss of souls. . . according to Catholic moral teaching, such parents, should they persist in their attitude, cannot receive absolution in the Sacrament of Penance.”
Instructions Of The Holy Office To The Bishops Of The U.S., Pope Pius IX, 1875

– “It is, then, incumbent on parents to strain every nerve to ward off such an outrage, and to strive manfully to have and to hold exclusive authority to direct the education of their offspring, as is fitting, in a Christian manner, and first and foremost to keep them away from schools where there is risk of their drinking in the poison of impiety” Sapientiae Christianae, Pope Leo XIII, 1890

– “First, Catholics should not choose mixed schools but have their own schools especially for children. They should choose excellent and reputable teachers for them. For an education in which religion is altered or non-existent is a very dangerous education” Militantis Ecclesiae, Pope Leo XIII, 1897

– “Obviously the need of this Christian instruction is accentuated by the decline of our times and morals. It is even more demanded by the existence of those public schools, lacking all religion, where everything holy is ridiculed and scorned. There both teachers’ lips and students’ ears are inclined to godlessness. We are referring to those schools which are unjustly called neutral or lay. In reality, they are nothing more than the stronghold of the powers of darkness.”
Editae Saepe, Pope St. Pius X, 1910

– “Duty of Attending Only Catholic Schools. Catholic children may not attend non-Catholic, neutral, or mixed-schools, that is, those which are open also to non-Catholics, and it pertains exclusively to the Ordinary of the place to decide, in accordance with instructions of the Holy See, under what circumstances and with what precautions against the danger of perversion, attendance at such schools may be tolerated (Canon 1374).

“1. Neutral schools are those which exclude religion by prescinding from it, such as the public schools in the United States. Mixed schools are those which admit pupils of any or no religion. Catholic schools, however, even though they admit some non-Catholic pupils, do not come under this classification.

“2. Does the provision of canon 1374 apply only to elementary and high schools, or also the colleges and universities?

“a. The natural law itself forbids Catholics to attend schools, whatever their grade, if they are dangerous to faith or morals. Both common experience and many documents of the Holy See prove that this danger may exist not only in the elementary and high school but in college and university as well. (As to elementary and high schools, especially the public schools in the U.S., see Instruction of the Holy Office, 24 Nov., 1875. As to colleges and universities, see S.C.
Prop. Fid., 7 Apr. 1860; Fontes, n. 4649, Vol. VII, p. 381, and earlier documents there cited; also S.C. Prop. Fid., 6 Aug. 1867; Fontes, n. 4868, Vol. VII, p. 405.) ‘It is almost if not quite impossible for those circumstances to exist which would render attendance at non-Catholic universities free from sin.’ (S.C. Prop.
Fid., 6 Aug. 1867; Fontes, n. 4868, Vol. VII, p. 405.) It was in regard to universities that the Holy See declared: ‘The unformed and unstable characters of young people, the erroneous teaching which is inhaled as it were with the very atmosphere in those institutions without being offset by the antidote of solid doctrine, the great power exerted over the young by human respect and the fear of ridicule on the part of their fellows–all these things produce such a present and proximate danger of falling away, that in general no sufficient reason can be conceived for entrusting Catholic young people to non-Catholic universities.’ (Encyclical of the S.C. Prop.
Fid., to the Bishops of England, 6 Aug. 1867; Fontes, n. 4868, Vol.
VII pg. 405.)

“b. The only thing which this canon adds to the obligation of the natural law is the provision that it is for the Ordinary of the place to decide in accordance with the instructions of the Holy See, under what circumstances and with what precautions against the danger of perversion, such attendance may be permitted… Does it apply equally to colleges and universities? We think that no such strict canonical requirement can be proved… In the absence of such legislation, parents and young people are bound by the natural law to remove effectively the danger of perversion by employing safeguards which are really sufficient. It is prudent and advisable, not strictly obligatory, to consult the Ordinary on the sufficiency of these precautions.” From Canon Law: A Text and Commentary, by Bouscaren and Ellis (1951, pgs. 762-4)

– “Another very grave danger is that naturalism which nowadays invades the field of education in that most delicate matter of purity of morals. Far too common is the error of those who with dangerous assurance and under an ugly term propagate a so-called sex-education, falsely imagining they can forearm youth against the dangers of sensuality by means of purely natural, such as a foolhardy initiation and precautionary instruction for all indiscriminately, even in public; and, worse still, by exposing them at an early age to the occasions, in order to accustom them, so it is argued, and as it were to harden them against such dangers. Such persons grievously err in refusing to recognize the inborn weakness of human nature, and the law of which the Apostle speaks, fighting against the law of the mind; Rom., vii, 23. and also in ignoring the experience of facts, from which it is clear that, particularly in young people, evil practices are the effect not so much of ignorance of intellect as of weakness of a will exposed to dangerous occasions, and unsupported by the means of grace.: Pope Pius XI on Sex-Education, 1929

– And first, as regards family life, it is of the highest importance that the offspring of Christian marriages should be thoroughly instructed in the precepts of religion; and that the various studies by which youth is fitted for the world should be joined with that of religion. To divorce these is to wish that youth should be neutral as regards its duties to God; a system of education in itself fallacious, and particularly fatal in tender years, for it opens the door to atheism, and closes it on religion” ON THE RELIGIOUS QUESTION IN FRANCE, Encyclical of Pope Leo XIII promulgated on February 8, 1884

Looking at Church teaching, parents have a serious obligation for seeing to proper Catholic education of their children. Catholic children must always be sent to Catholic schools unless not otherwise possible.

And as we can see from the commentary on Canon Law, even adults must use extreme caution when attending non-Catholic colleges and many courses teach contrary to Catholicism, and are occasions of sin. If we look at our page on “Occasions of Sin”, it is itself a sin for us to knowingly put ourselves in the occasion of sin.
— “Christian Education” – taken from

Sincerely in Christ,
Our Lady of the Rosary Library
“Pray and work for souls”

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