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Home Ed. Fathers


To Teach the Faith

Side 1

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

MP3 Disc 4 Received from Breslin

These Sermons were taped by Daniel Peper who
traveled and taped Fr. Hardon from 1990 to 1995

What Does it Mean to Teach the Faith to Others?

I can tell you the father’s role is absolutely indispensable.

What does it mean to teach the Faith to others?

And then I’ll ask three questions: What does it mean to teach the Faith to others? Why must we teach the Faith? And how to do it effectively.

To teach the Faith to others is not the same as any other kind of pedagogy. And the reason is because teaching the Faith, even though verbally teaching one case, teaching another case verbally, may seem to be the same; teaching the Faith is literally not just poles apart, but as far apart as heaven is from earth in contrast to teaching any secular subject.

By definition a secular subject, from the Latin saculum…which means the world… means teaching about the world of space and time; in other words, the created world, whereas teaching the Faith does indeed include teaching about the created world, but only as a means to an end. The end, or the goal, or the purpose… three perfect synonyms… end, goal, and purpose of anyone’s education is in the deepest sense, eternal. It is celestial. It is divine.

What then does it mean to teach the Faith to others? It means to enlighten the mind… we believe with the intellect…to enlighten the mind on those truths which God revealed that we are to both believe and practice in order to reach our eternal destiny.

Once more, religious education is first and primarily to enlighten the mind, to know those truths which we need to know in order to reach our eternal destiny. And there is no substitute. A person either has the Faith, or they don’t. But notice, we say, has the Faith. Every person whose reached the age of reason becomes a believer. The only unbelievers, either those who’ve not yet reached the age of reason, or, well, have lost their minds. Every rational human being believes. But what a difference between believing and having the Faith, believing the truths which God has revealed to the world as necessary for our reaching our eternal destiny.

Why Must We Teach the Faith to Others?

If that is what faith is, next question: Why do we have to believe? And notice, why do we have to believe that which God has revealed? Because otherwise a person will not reach his eternal destiny. We may speculate, we may surmise, we may hope, we may trust, but in two thousand years the Church has never wavered in her teaching what Christ, himself, told us, and it occurs in the closing verses of St. Mark’s gospel. Behind you to the left should be some bibles. Could you find any bible…choose a bible…any bible there. Thank you.

These are the closing words of the gospel of St. Mark. Lastly, says the evangelist: He then, Jesus, showed himself to the eleven while they were at table. He reproached them for their incredulity and obstinacy because they had refused to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. And he said to them: “Go out to the whole world, proclaim the gospel to all creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned.” The most (?) statement anywhere in the whole bible that without faith there is no salvation. It’s in Christ’s closing words as recorded in Mark’s gospel. Those who believe will be saved. Others, says our Lord, will be condemned. I repeat, the Church teaches those who have not had the fullness of God’s revelation, and that is still most of the human race…they can be saved by believing and living up to what, well, whatever they believe. But it may be the smallest particle of a kernel of the Truth of what God has revealed. But it had better be the Truth. In so far as the person has that truth and practices it they’ll be saved.

Of course, the assurance of salvation is in direct proportion to how much of the Faith a person has had taught him.

Why then believe? Because it’s a condition for salvation.

And you fathers, the main reason under God…the fundamental reason why you have fathered children was not, dear Lord, couldn’t be the main reason... was not and is not to bring children into this world. The main reason is to bring children into this world, indeed, but that believing in what God has revealed and putting it into practice they might reach heaven.

In other words, children are conceived and born into this world but not for this world. We’re made for heaven.

We continue pressing the question: Why is faith important? Not only is faith necessary for salvation but faith is necessary to live a happy life already here on earth. If there is one mathematical proportion that can be stated in plain theological language: In the providence of God our happiness depends on the depth of our faith. A deep believer is meant by God to be, well, deeply happy. A weak believer will be, well, weakly happy.

An unbeliever, and we’re living in the world, I’ve almost defined the modern secular world as the age in which the genius of man has found an ocean of substitutes for happiness.

My fourteen years of living in Manhattan while teaching at the University in (?), I learned many things. There are schools of humour, several years course….pay good tuition….have to pass exams in order to, well, know how to make people laugh. And what is that, except an artificial, manmade, man created substitute for happiness.

We continue with our question. Why believe? Why is faith so important? Because without the faith there is no way we can cope with the sorrows and trials of life. No way, except through faith. The Book of Job makes sense only on the premises of faith. The passion of Christ is intelligible only on the grounds of faith. Why then believe? Because faith makes life liveable.

In my five year tenure at Western Michigan University, of my two thousand students that I had in class was a Barbara whom I kept alive for almost two years…had attempted suicide many times since childhood, rejected as she believed by her parents. Well, I left the university, and just about this time of the year, early March….returning to Chicago, I got a call from the university….Barbara was found dead in her private dormitory…took an overdose of medicine…and to make sure….tied her head in a plastic bag.

Why then the Faith? To cope with the trials of life. We could continue from now until a week from now on why faith is so important. Without faith, there is no civilized society. You read the Holy Father’s Veritatis Splendor. The very obvious, the human mind depends on the premises of faith in order to even pass judgment on some of the most fundamental issues of life like life and death.

I spoke yesterday in Virginia…yesterday afternoon…got home shortly after 10:00 p.m. and talked about the present Holy Father and the two cultures: the culture of life and the culture of death. An unbelieving culture is the culture of death. The only reason why that, the lowest figure, we have sixty-five million legalized abortions throughout the world every year is because so many have given up their faith.

Why believe? Because there is no civilization without it. One once sane American law after another is becoming sheer insanity. And those of us who still have the faith, in case you haven’t been told, those in charge of the psychological sciences put us down…did you know this… as psychopaths. Did you know that?

Final answer to why believe. The Faith keeps us sane. That’s St. Paul. Read his letter to the Romans. St. Paul here. The Romans before the time of Christ did not, of course, have the fullness of revelation even of the Jewish people. But, what little they could have known and could have believed, they rejected. And then God allowed them to make just fools of themselves. Every single crime…every single crime that was rampant in the Roman Empire of the first century of the Christian era…every single crime is now becoming legalized in the once believing western world.

Which then brings us up to the final and, in a way, towering reason why the faith, and this is the true faith must be taught. That’s why we’re meeting here. It is because, above all that we have said so far, it is because it is God’s will that by submitting our minds to his divine mind we practice that most fundamental humility on which the whole structure of, not just Christianity but, civilization depends. Either people have the humility of mind to submit their intellects to the mind of God in believing without comprehending…going back to St. Paul again….God is going to make just errant fools of them, as making fools of so many once proud leaders in western society. Underlying all of these reasons is the deeply personal reason why we are to share the Faith…because others who have the Faith shared their faith with us. None of you would be here…I wouldn’t be, unless someone who had the faith, and maybe at great cost, had taught us. Maybe from infancy, or as I’ve told mothers, from pregnancy, a child is taught already in the nine months of pregnancy. I’ve told women physicians, and they agree, the mother’s emotions, how she thinks, has a deep influence on the child she is carrying.

It is then sheer gratitude on our part to share the Faith with others. And I’ve said this by now, I’m sure, a hundred or more times to different audiences. When I was finishing college…dating a wonderful girl…I was accepted for medical school and was working on the stage and….successful…and awhile…still can’t believe it…the good Lord wanted me to go on to the priesthood and the religious life. I still can’t believe that I did it. Must be somebody else. How I ever did it I just can’t imagine. But I did. But one thing that crossed my mind way back then…all I knew was I want to share myself with others. And this, and more so, I can tell you that in women… in so many ways a woman’s desire to share herself, the desire for motherhood is very strong in women. Very strong. It does not leave them, by the way, when they become religious women. It’s there. So there’s conferences just on motherhood for the nuns…just on motherhood. But, fatherhood is very strong in all of us. But what a mistake to isolate this fatherhood, or truncate it, and limit it to, first of all just the physical life or well being of the children for whose, well, natural life as fathers, we are responsible. They are responsible and no matter what the books in psychology say, forget it. I have counseled…I am counseling psychiatrists. I know no single profession that needs more help than psychiatrists. Quote me.

Fatherhood just begins with the child’s conception. It goes on, and I mean it, it goes on into eternity. And one of the grave limitations of our society: how many fathers have abdicated their fatherhood with the disastrous consequences to their children. Once, as the expression goes, they’ve reached, what we shall call it, the legal age…how old must you be to vote now? Is it eighteen now? Don’t you fathers dare, don’t you dare think that your responsibility for your children, my Lord…ends when they’re eighteen years old. Of course, you’ve got to be much more subtle, much more shrewd. It continues, I repeat, into eternity. But there’s another side that I wish to stress which is in this: Those who have not had physical offspring of their own, like myself…those who cannot have children physically, or maybe their wife cannot have…they’re married and they’re childless, or those who choose to remain either unmarried or without or whatever their state of life, but do not physically beget children…hear it…the highest form of fatherhood is not to bring a child physically into the world…the highest form of fatherhood is to beget offspring for heaven by sharing the Faith.

And what a tragedy; in my forty-seven years of the priesthood have allowed me to witness these tragedies: Once believing men yet again say to their wives they have no faith or a faith alien to the Catholic Church. How well I know. Right here, right now in Detroit. Other cities too. And have either rejected or given up the practice of their faith. And as a result, the children not being reared, as the expression goes, in the Faith. That…that is fundamental, basic fatherhood. The fatherhood that St. Paul speaks of. Remember what he told the early Christians: “In Christ Jesus I have begotten you.” And this, this fatherhood…first of all for those of you that have your own physical offspring, they are then your first responsibility before God. But, if they are your first responsibility, they are not your only responsibility. Moreover as the children grow up, marry, and start families of their own, your rearing them in the Faith should continue as we’ve been saying.

But if there is one thing the Holy See has been telling me for twenty-five years: Continue motivating the laity. First, find them. Find the dedicated laity who still have the Faith…fellas, thanks for coming! I’m fulfilling my duty and tomorrow at one o’clock…today is Sunday, right? Tomorrow is Monday….should keep track of the time. At one o’clock Detroit time, I’ll be calling up my Vatican superior…7:00 Rome time. I’ll call him up, and he will say, “Yes?” And then we engage in conversation. I want to report on today’s meeting to the Vatican. How important it is for those…yourselves in the laity to be inspired to share your faith with others. Because on your zeal, believe me, depends the salvation, and I’m not exaggerating, of countless thousands in the providence of God.

How to Teach the Faith to Others

That leaves us to our last question of how. I have 1:42. That about right? And I think I was to stop at one forty-five. And then a break until 2:30. Is that correct?

And I’ll be in the confessional now until, say, short of 2:30. I would just like to introduce what we can talk about in our next meditation, and that will be 2:30. In other words, the how of our responsibility to share the faith with those God has put into our lives, and especially you fathers to share the Faith, always, of course, with your wives. But with special emphasis, your own physical offspring, and then, the children either that God might have given you but you never physically fathered, or, and I can think of no one who can be more zealous in promoting the true faith that a father of a family who knows what it means and is willing to pay the price, and I know of no one in today’s modern world who’s more willing to pay the price than you homeschooling mothers and fathers, to preserve and advance the true faith in our day. One word before we close: Homeschooling or home education is not a new phenomenon. What makes it new is that for so long it had been neglected. And, as we know, so many parents just assumed that secondary agencies would fulfill the responsibilities which really belong to the parents.

I would ask you, however, in anticipation of our question period which we are having this afternoon…Am I correct?... I would ask you to please, not too lengthy but very pointed, raise questions or issues that, at least, we will begin to cope with here because I can tell you this: The future of the Church, more than any of us now can realize, depends the on collective, dedicated, convinced zeal of those present here to not just do your part but to help others, especially those in home education to do what Christ wants so desperately to do to bring souls, especially of the young to his Divine Heart, because the devil is so active today and so demonically successful. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

I will leave the Blessed Sacrament here…and just to make sure that somebody stays in this room. O.K.? Then I’ll be downstairs in the confessional room now until…well, give me about eight or so minutes, O.K.? I am just down the corridor, down the stairs by 1:55. O.K.?

Let’s say a Glory Be to the Father.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit. As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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