In 2012, I am going to attempt to live by the rules below which are adapted from Father Raoul Plus, S.J.’s Christ in the Home. I would also like to reread his book.
1. Always appear before your family in good humor. Nothing is so depressing as a father or mother out of sorts. See that the family never has to suffer because of your nervousness or irritability.
2. Never weary in cheering your family with your smile. It is not enough to avoid depressing them; you must brighten them up and let their spirits expand. Be especially vigilant when the little ones are around. Give them the alms of a smile, hard though it be at times. What a pity when children have to say, “I don’t like it at home.”
3. What can be shared, speak of it openly. If something must not be told, then don’t tell it. Do share what you can so everyone profits by your experience, especially the family.
4. Amiably show the greatest interest in the smallest things. Family problems are generally not affairs of state, but everything that concerns those we love most in this world should be worthy of interest: the baby’s first tooth, the honor ribbon won at school, the entrance of one of the little ones into the Holy Childhood Association.
5. Banish exaggerated asceticism from your life. If your home is Christian and each member of the family is learning to carry his cross, then it is essential to avoid making others suffer by a too ostentatious or inopportune austerity. There is abundant opportunity for self renunciation in devoting oneself to procuring joy for others. Marie Antoinette de Geuser used to sacrifice her great longing for recollection and her taste for a simple life by accompanying her brothers to evening affairs for which she wore dresses that she said “made her look vain.”
6. Be sure to treat all alike. Nothing is so disrupting to home life as favoritism for one or the other child. The same measure for all!
7. Never think of yourself, but always of them in a joyous spirit. Henry the Fourth of France used to crawl around on all fours, with his children on his back, to enliven the family get-together. Louis Racine, son of the famous French playwright, author of “Athalie,” relates, “My father was never so happy as when he was free to leave the royal court and spend a few days with us. Even in the presence of strangers, he dared to be a father; he belonged to all our games.”
8. Never begin an argument; always speak prudently. Discussion should not be banned unless it develops into bickering. A free habit of exchanging ideas on a broadening subject cannot but be profitable; the children should even be encouraged and led into it to develop in them a wise and discriminating mind and a habit of suspended judgment. Unsavory and disturbing subjects and those beyond their depth naturally ought to be avoided.
9. Always act patiently and answer graciously. That it takes the “patience of an angel” to rule vigilantly over the little world of the family is beyond question. Affability is essential.
10. By good will you will gain hearts and souls without exception. Loving much is the key to gain all. These slogans for a happy home life are not marvels of prose, but do express a precious rule of wise family discipline.
Thank you to Cindy K. who shared this with members of our parish.