Prayer for Self Control March 7, 2017Posted by Tantumblogo in awesomeness, Basics, catachesis, Domestic Church, family, General Catholic, Glory, Grace, Interior Life, mortification, priests, Restoration, sanctity, Tradition, true leadership, Virtue.
Continuing in this impromptu Lenten series of prayers for establishing a holy and virtuous home life, a prayer/meditation on maintaining self-control at all times.
I am definitely of a quick tempered disposition. I inherited many things from my father’s side of the family, many very admirable attributes, but this is probably one that is on the debit side. My paternal grandmother said her father-in-law, my great-grandfather, was the meanest man she ever met. My dad had a really hard time with his father, who was an extremely hard worker but also extremely demanding. I believe, Deo Gratias, there has been a certain process of mellowing from one generation to the next, but the tendency towards a quick temper – which subsides as quickly as it comes on – has remained. Also, both my grandfather (lifelong farmer) and father (farm raised/construction/gas fields) were notorious abusers of the language, using foul words as a matter of course, and that’s been another bad habit I’ve struggled against.
That is to say, this prayer from Father’s Manual by Fr. A Coomes, SJ, is something I can really appreciate. It would be ideal, I guess, if readers could say “this is definitely not a problem for me!,” but I tend to doubt that’s the case. Note, tendency towards excessive anger is not the only area of self-control addressed, but in raising a whole bunch of kids, it is often among the most prevalent:
Lord Jesus, You told us to learn of You because You are meek and humble of heart. Teach me Your way of meekness that I may control my mind, my heart, and my tongue.
Give me the manly calm and self-control needed to be an example and inspiration to my family.
Help me to be a considerate husband – to be a true comfort to my wife……..and never quarreling or peevish. May I be at all times sympathetic, and may my words never be bitter to bring her sorrow. May I always be understanding, unselfish, and thoughtful in sharing with her the family problems we experience. Let me be ready to conciliate differences with understanding and never be domineering.
Teach me to be a patient father to my children, inspiring them always by word and example. May my words always be words that direct and help them, and never words that wound. When I must correct them, let it not be in anger. And, if I must be firm in my corrections, let me never be crude or harsh.
Let me never use rude or impatient words before my wife and children, nor display an uncontrolled or ill-considered action, which must certainly be a reproach to me afterwards when I contemplate the gentleness and calm of your meek and humble heart.
Finally create in me a spirit of true familial leadership, where I embody all the virtues necessary in a father, husband, and head of the domestic church entrusted to my care. May I display none of the vices of selfishness, pride, indifference, or failure of leadership. May I in all things lead my family according to Your holy will, for which I will be judged most severely at my death. May my wife and children submit to my role as leader of the family entrusted to me with willingness and humility.
Please bless our family abundantly and provide us with a joyful and happy Christian home.
It is a great challenge, adequately balancing proper leadership and necessary firmness with the optimal levels of gentleness and deference. These days, the great impediment to being a good father and husband is selfishness and carelessness, as we see so commonly in the cultural presentations of oafish, self-serving, uninvolved fathers. Of course the culture of divorce has a very great deal to do with that.
Even among some traditional priests and laity, however, there seems almost a bias at times against strong leadership which is sometimes slandered as severity, a certain – I am positive it is unintentional – trepidation about fathers going “too far,” or encouragements to fathers towards excessive deference. There is also sometimes a subtle undermining of the father’s role, in presenting the “ideal” father as meek to the point of emasculated, or gentle to the point of milquetoast.
That does not mean I have not seen very well intentioned Catholic fathers who have perhaps gone a bit too far towards clarity, strength, and decisiveness, which may manifest as a certain tendency towards severity. As I said, it’s a very difficult balance, but in my limited experience and reading the great mass of deficient fatherhood is on the other side, towards laxity or loss of leadership, both among fathers/husbands who perform their God-given role poorly either due to indifference or lack of knowledge (perhaps more common), and due to the undermining of the father’s/husband’s role by society and, much more destructively, by some of those who should be supporting and upholding that role with all their strength.
This leaves aside the very difficult situation many fathers/husbands face, which is dealing with attempts to usurp their rightful role from within the family itself. This is a very common problem and is found within the most outwardly devout families. Many women have absorbed some of the noxious ideas floating about in the culture, most of the time unconsciously. Some pious mothers are unaware of how they may be, largely unintentionally, undermining their husband or attempting to subvert his leadership. Certain priests seem to have a hard time strongly supporting fathers in the face of tearful outbursts in their office or confessional.
All this is to say, the challenges are manifold, especially at this time, though many of these have always existed. I read a book from a priest written in the 19th century that decried many of these same problems. Hopefully this prayer will go some way towards overcoming these challenges. I am looking for a similar prayer intended for mothers and children to aid in their subordinate role in family life, something that is so radically countercultural in these days many have a hard time accepting it. Generally speaking, in the broader Western world, the overwhelming deficit of virtue and action is on the side of men. In the much tinier pious Catholic subset, however, the problems are more evenly balanced.
I’ve wandered far enough abroad. If I keep this up, it’ll be the only post you get today, so I’ll stop. At root, the best I can do is for all to look to the Holy Family for guidance. Fathers, look to St. Joseph, mothers, look to Our Lady. Our Lady never sinned, was preserved free from sin by an act of Grace, and yet she submitted to her husband in all things. Fathers emulate St. Joseph’s kindness, love, strength, masculinity, and virtue. I have found you cannot model yourself on St. Joseph, nor ask for his intercession, too much.