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

By Fr. James Farfaglia
March 1st, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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.

Money

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?

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

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