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The Happy Priest on Why We Need Discipline and How We Can Cultivate It

What is your decision?

Discipline and order are key components for a successful spiritual life.  This first week of Lent is a perfect time to start.Grace does not work without human nature, it builds upon it.  First a man; first a woman; and then the saint.

CORPUS CHRISTI, TX (Catholic Online) - Discipline is essential.  You will not be able to live out a serious spiritual life without it.

The most vital aspect of self-discipline is acquiring personal organization.  That's right.  You need to develop your own personal schedule.

Sit down and write out your schedule and stick to it.  If you are single, find a friend who will hold you accountable.  If you are married, make a schedule for the entire family.  Work together with your spouse and your children as you help each other fulfill your daily schedule.  Be accountable to each other.

As I wrote in my new book Get Serious! - A Survival Guide for Serious Catholics, both you and your children need to acquire the basic aspects of human formation.  Clean rooms, well groomed hair, ironed clothes, polished shoes and personal hygiene all make up the fundamentals of what it means to be truly human.

Grace does not work without human nature, it builds upon it.  First a man; first a woman; and then the saint.

Family Schedule

Developing a family schedule will allow you to pray together as a family.  Why not run your family like a domestic monastery?  Ring a bell to let everyone know that it is time for breakfast, homework, rosary or a family outing.  Remember, mom is not a short-order cook and the kitchen has to close at some moment in the day.

Homeschooling families have a privileged opportunity to make their homes into a true sanctuary of order.  You can create your own schedule rather than be led by the schedule of a school.

Create a realistic family schedule.  With infants and small children you will have to develop something appropriate to their ages.   Print out your schedule and post it on a bulletin board where everyone can see it. Plug in Catholic feast days, national holidays, vacations, visits to your parents, the kids' activities and the activities of your parish family.

It is important that your children get to bed early.  After a long day, you and your spouse need quiet time together.

When I was a little kid, there were many summer nights when I used to wonder why we were in bed while it was still light outside and our little friends were still playing out in the street.  Years later, my mother confessed to us that when she had had enough, she used to push the arm on the kitchen clock an hour ahead so that we would all think that it was time to turn in.

Your Marriage

Be sure to schedule in a "date night" with your spouse.  This should take place once a week or every other week depending on your family circumstances.  Have a quiet dinner together, alone.  Go for a walk, alone.  Plan weekend get-aways, alone.  Plan an annual vacation, alone.  Time away together, as a couple, without the children, is an important means to keep your relationship fresh.

For those of you who are married, it is very important that you keep it real simple.  Your kids do not have to be involved in multiple sports nor do they need    to play numerous musical instruments.  One sport and one musical instrument is enough.

Honestly, in my view, organized sports, as they are understood today, are huge distractions from family life.  They form a trap that only breaks down the family.   I think that it is ludicrous to be travelling all over the state and even all over the country for a child's game.  Whatever happened to kids just being kids?  Whatever happened to kids playing in neighborhoods?

Mothers with children at home need to stay home and take care of them.  Families with stay-home moms function much better.  The home needs to be the priority.  Not only do young children need a mother to be home, but high school kids need their mom as well.

A husband needs to be proactive, industrious, diligent and responsible by providing for the family without leaning on his wife financially.  Too many mothers work all day only to come home to situations where they are expected to do everything. This causes the wife to lose respect for her husband and to lose patience with her children.


Moreover, not only is it essential to organize your time, it is also necessary to discipline the use of your income.  Create a budget and stick to it.  Live within your means and avoid unnecessary credit card debt.  Financial discipline is critical to family life.  If you commit to staying home with your children, be assured that God will provide.  Besides, you might find that it is cheaper for mom to stay home with the kids rather than go to work.

This of course, is not to take away from amazing women who out of necessity may have to work in order that their families can survive.  Computers allow women to create home-based businesses if extra-income is needed.

Over the years I have seen many hard working and creative parishioners find practical solutions that have worked well for their families.  I have seen many heroic women who are single moms or who are divorced who heroically provide for their families.

Discipline and order are key components for a successful spiritual life.  This first week of Lent is a perfect time to start.

What is your decision?


Father James Farfaglia is the Pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Corpus Christi, TX.  Visit him on the web at


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'

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Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for October 2015
That human trafficking, the modern form of slavery, may be eradicated.
Evangelization: That with a missionary spirit the Christian communities of Asia may announce the Gospel to those who are still awaiting it.

Keywords: Get Serious, Father James Farfaglia, spiritual progress, conversion, Lent, spirituality, discipline, personal growth, development


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  1. Bill Sr.
    3 years ago

    On Christian Marriage and Family Life

    No marriage can succeed without a clear understanding of the purpose of such a union in the first place. Let’s take a look at what we see today in our society.

    Entirely too many marriages are based not on commitment but on the convenience of one or both partners. In order to share property, expenses, space, status, possessions, or bodies is no basis on which to build a lasting relationship. The church did not sanctify marriage simply to benefit individuals. It joins a man and a woman together in holy matrimony for the sake of society and the sanctity of family life in order to assure the continuance of humanity in the name of our creator.

    Also we should not look upon the sacrament of marriage as a granting of certain rights or privileges. Marriage allows us to commit our lives to each other and become united and commissioned to a task. Joined together we accept responsibility of living together as one, dedicated to our unique ability to procreate and vow to make every effort needed to love, honor, and cherish our union until death do us part.

    Once our concept of marriage embraces these facts and parameters of marital commitment we can seriously consider our options. Until then we would be better off aspiring to be our very best at single life and its benefits to society.

    Understanding the purpose of married life and willing to commit to the enrichment of family living is half of the challenge we accept. It is the test for our intellect and honor.

    Before making our wedding plans we need to prayerfully consider the challenges which the vows of marriage and family life will bring to us. There will be tests of and new requirements on such things as our:
    Energy and Emotions keep a cool head.
    Gifts and Goals establish “charitable” discipline.
    Patience and Perseverance you’re not alone, let the Spirit guide you.
    Pride and Priorities stay focused on family, not individuals.
    Time and Talents use them wisely to effectively serve family.

    Think about it! Just what are vows anyway? A vow is a solemn pledge or personal commitment. Broken down it looks like this:
    Solemn- a dignified or serious formality
    Pledge- a promise to do or provide
    Commit- to bind or obligate, to assure

    So our marriage vows are formal dignified serious promises to bind and obligate ourselves to provide for each other for as long as we live. They are not offered as suggestions for social behavior or guidelines for community living. They are solemn personal assurances given before God on our honor to our spouse and extend to any offspring as our commitment toward a sound and holy family life.

    These vows, unlike the intellect test for understanding and commitment, reveal the test for our heart and soul. They require our dedication and effort. For our marriage to be successful we must be wholly dedicated to provide all the effort and sacrifices needed in a loving family in any situation with tender affection even though we may be feeling too busy, exhausted, helpless, or unprepared. Fulfilling our vows under stressful conditions takes courage and gives us an opportunity to build essential character in our lives.

    This kind of dedication and effort unfortunately are not common traits among most people today. Millions of dollars are spent annually by marketing groups for hundreds of manufactures and organizations encouraging us to indulge ourselves with every kind of “personal” products, services, or pleasure for our own sake. Who can deny this enticing investment works for them? Just to have what they want or get what they can’t afford people often sell their future savings or souls We have become so obsessed with personal gratification that we have no time or patience or even the thought of satisfying anyone else’s needs. This is totally contrary to the teachings of our Lord. The healthiest approach to life is to limit our desires to the most essential needs for ourselves and those for whom we are responsible. This would include our parents, family, spouse, and children first and then anyone who depends on us for their daily needs or direction. It is no wonder that over half of marriages fail when society as a whole has fallen into the luring pit of self centeredness.

    Unfortunately we are too busy with everyday chores to notice we are being manipulated by forces within the media, elitist educators, teen idols, and self serving celebrities and politicians. We need a wake up call in order to see what is happening to us and within our society. The same is true regarding our spiritual lives. We need to understand we are not here to serve ourselves but to serve our God through humanity in general and our community and family in particular. We need to look out for each other willingly and constantly.

    To be fully Christian is to follow Christ and his sole requirement for that is to “take up our cross” first. (Some of our crosses are heavy to be sure, but he promises to make our burdens lighter if we’ll only ask.) After we’ve done that, it is time to focus on our needs and desires. Again, being Christians first and foremost our critical goal should be to live our lives in service to God which is to abide by his commandments with anticipation of living eternally with him when he calls us home. Can we imagine how awesome it would be living eternally with an omnipotent benevolent God in the place he has prepared for us and all who love him? What price would we not pay, what burden is too heavy? Pray that your heart’s desire is that you and yours be with him in paradise.

    It takes a little practice and lots of prayer to learn that looking out for others as much as for ourselves (or even a little more at times) is as natural as breathing and just as good for us. Over time, when it becomes a natural habit and you learn its lesson, you’ll begin to feel really good about being alive. Why? Becoming free of yourself allows you time and opportunity to look for and find Christ and his needs in others just as he asked us to do.

    We could call this new freedom “selflessness”. All at once you realize showing kindness to others at the risk of denying yourself is refreshing to the soul and rejuvenates your spiritual energy. Your heart swells at the awareness of having given up something of yourself for the benefit of others without being required or requested to do it. Your conscience is able to escape the “I want or I need” and searches for all kinds of ways to assist, encourage, or improve the welfare of others within your influence.

    Suddenly you understand what being created in the image of your creator is all about and you want to proclaim it to the world with humble and sincere acts of love. It is a giving up of your “self’ interests for the benefit of others. This allows you the opportunity to engage in the divine activity of true love—“no greater love is there than this that one give his life for his friends.” And we have been told very clearly the example of a “friend” in the gospels.

    The very Spirit of God’s message is that he has given us life and we in turn give our lives in service to others for the sake of his people. The “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” is accomplished by our doing His will here among His people. And the “do unto others as you would have others do unto you” is fulfilled by our selflessness within our families first and as much of the world around us as possible. Can you imagine a world where everyone is doing all they can for everyone around them? This is the Spirit of creation God had in mind for us in the beginning before we became “selfish” children.

    Having said this, we need to understand we are “human” and as such we do fail occasionally even with our best efforts. Our loving Father is aware of our finite nature and he has told us that as we forgive others he wants to forgive us. Most importantly as the “children of god” and wishing to be like him we must be willing to forgive ourselves also. Otherwise we will self destruct falling into the hands of the “Deceiver” in despair or hopelessness. We have to be fearless and willing to fight the good fight for our sake AND for our Father in heaven.

    In summary, young couples who believe they want to spend the rest of their lives together and anticipate marriage should give considerable thought and prayer to the realities they face in establishing the proper family life environment for themselves and their children. Remembering that a happy and wholesome family life begins and thrives when mother and dad learn and teach a lifestyle based on the loving practice of --selflessness— which welcomes our loving Lord’s promised Holy Spirit to live and dwell in their hearts and guide them home to him.

  2. abey
    3 years ago

    Where Christianity is to the original, Paganism is to artificiality , where the former is to living ones own life to unity, the latter is living somebody else's life to separations , where the former is to creativeness the latter is to imitations, where the former lives in the blessings the latter lives in the curses, where the former leads to GOD, the latter leads to too many gods which is no god, in the deceit.. So be a Christian in the identity of Christ & not one without an identity, like Cain in the wanderings & the indulgences, with a mark on his forehead. The mark of a pagan. Even then there is hope for the Pagan in the Mercy & Goodness of GOD, to replace the mark with Christ, lest the appointed time be past, for the mark of Cain to become the mark of the beast.

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