"A child, whoever to his parents shows All love and honor, on him God bestows
All earthly blessings; and when life is o'er,
His are the joys of Heaven for evermore.
But he who to his father pays no heed,
Nor cherishes his mother ; he shall lead
E'en here below a life of grief and shame,
And when he dies shall burn in endless flame."
FRITZ, a little boy of seven, was on the whole a very nice child, but now and then he was obstinately set upon something that he was not allowed to do, and his father had often threatened him with the stick. One day, when Fritz had again been disobedient to his mother, his father stood before him with the stick in his hand, saying: “Fritz what am I to do with the stick now?” "Go for a walk with it, I suppose,'' said the cunning little fellow. But the father made the stick walk over the back of the disobedient child, who learnt to be docile for the future. And that is as it should be. If a child will not obey, if he tells lies or steals, his parents must punish him.
In days gone by a very curious custom prevailed in parts of Germany. On a fine summer's day all the children went with their parents and teachers into the wood, there they cut down branches of birch trees, singing the while: “A whipping with a rod makes naughty children good." The birch-twigs were then tied in bundles and carried home on the shoulders of the children; who sang merrily as they walked:
"Father and mother home we go;
To every house we bear a rod,
We know that though it gives us pain,
you only use it for our good.”
It is a great blessing, though you may not think so, when you are punished for your faults by your parents. God Himself has said : "He that spareth the rod hateth his son, but he that loveth him correcteth him betimes." Therefore children take a well-deserved punishment willingly, and if it should happen that you are punished when you are not in fault think to yourselves: If I do not deserve punishment this time, I have often escaped it when I did deserve it. Besides it rests with yourselves to avoid being punished. All you have to do is to be invariably respectful and obedient to your parents. Ought that to be difficult to you ? You know quite well that your parents are the representatives of God to you, and next to Him are your greatest benefactors. O what a wonderful thing is the heart of a parent! How great are its love, care and patience. Just think how your father and mother watch over you night and day, keep you out of harm and danger, give you food, drink and clothing and teach you what is right. Can you count the hours which your mother has watched at your bedside, can you reckon up the days of toil which your father has gone through for you? Therefore always show the utmost respect to your parents. Never think nor say anything but what is good of them, and always be courteous, dutiful and helpful in your behavior towards them.
There was once a young Bohemian, named Theodore Kohn, who was raised at a very early age to the archbishopric of Olmiitz. On his election his parents, who were poor simple country-people, came to offer him their congratulations. He went to meet them at the station, and as soon as they got out the railway-carriage, bent before them and kissed their hands with filial respect. All the spectators were deeply touched.
Always love your parents. A good child is happy, when he can give is parents any joy or comfort, when he can relieve them of any worry or anxiety, when he can do them any little service. You must especially show affection to your parents, when they are getting old. Then their faculties begin to decay, their steps grow slow and tottering, their hands tremble, their whole body becomes weak and powerless. Be patient and sympathetic with the infirmities of your parents, and strive to lighten the burden of their declining years. If they are poor, help them to the extent of your power, and take all possible care of them. Never omit praying for them every day, and even when they lie in the grave still think of them in your prayers, and have the holy sacrifice of the Mass offered up for them.
Pius the Ninth was the Head of the Church from 1846 to 1878. It is not very easy to get an audience of the Pope, for as he has the whole Church, he naturally is very busy. Nevertheless a poor little Roman boy once succeeded in making his way into the presence of his Holiness, and crying bitterly, handed him the following petition: "Holy Father! my mother is old and weak, and I am as yet too young to support her myself. Our unkind landlord will turn us out to-morrow morning, if we don't pay him the fifteen shillings which we owe him. If you will only be so kind as to lend them to me, I will pay you back when I am older." The Pope after reading this asked: "What is your name, my child!" "Paul, holy Father.” "And how old are you?" "Ten." "Is your father alive !" "No, he has been in Heaven these ten years." "And what does your mother do?" 'She sews and prays from morning to night." Pius the Ninth gave the little fellow three pounds, caused further inquiries to be made about him and his mother, and as he heard nothing but good of them, took them both under his especial protection.
A young girl, who had vainly sought for work, was at last reluctantly compelled to sell the little gold cross which she wore round her neck in order to get bread for her mother. She came home with tear dimmed eyes, but with a light heart, saying: "Cheer up, dear mother. Here is food for some days, and when they are past, I shall again have work." A few hours later this act of daughterly self-sacrifice came to the ears of Pius IX, and that same evening the girl received a sealed packet. As she opened it out fell a beautiful gold cross and three sovereigns, and inside were these words: "My dear child you were right to put your trust in God, Who never suffers filial piety to go unrewarded."
In the town of Konigsberg, in Prussia, a child of five years old brought her greatest treasure, her doll, to pledge in a pawn shop. “What do you want money for?" asked the pawnbroker. “Father is ill, and mother is crying because we have nothing to eat,” “I can't take the doll; it is of no use to me." The child began to sob bitterly, and the pawnbroker, moved by her tears, went to his till and took out a sovereign, which he gave her, saying : "There, take that to your father."
Always be obedient to your parents : obey them willingly, quickly and exactly. If I hear a boy or girl saying : "I can't do that, I won't do that, I shall only do so and so," then I say to myself: "that child is not pleasing to God." Children are utterly without knowledge or experience, and if they were left to themselves, and allowed to do as they liked, they would get into a great deal of mischief, and fall into many sins. Therefore God has set parents over children, to guide them in His name. And thus a child, who obeys his parents, is following God, he is led and guided by God's Hand. Such a child is blest; he is like the divine Child Jesus, the only- begotten Son of God, the King of Heaven and earth Who was subject to a poor maiden and to a simple carpenter.
In England, as you know, we do not work on Sunday, nor we do allow public amusements to go on. Once when the Prince of Wales happened to be in Paris on a Sunday, there was a race at which he much desired to be present. He sent a telegram to his mother to ask whether he might go, but she would not allow him to do so, and he could not disobey her. All the thoughtless world of Paris was touched and edified by this instance of filial piety.
God Himself promises to all children who honor their father and mother His blessing and protection in this life, and eternal salvation in the next. "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayst be long-lived upon the land, which the Lord thy God shall give thee." "Cursed be he who honoreth not his father and mother." Not very long ago, this Divine curse fell in a terrible manner upon the son and daughter of a noble Belgian family who by every means in their power embittered the lives of their parents. The son was kicked by a horse and became a cripple for life, the daughter was seized with a terrible illness, which left her totally blind. "But he who to his father pays no heed, Nor cherishes his mother ; he shall lead even here below a life of grief and shame, And when he dies shall burn in endless flame."
You should always be affectionate to your sisters and brothers ; never try to set yourself above them, do not be quarrelsome and unyielding, obstinate and sullen. Be polite and obliging to those who are older than yourself, patient and unselfish to the younger ones; look after these last so that no harm may happen to them, and that they may not do anything naughty, and always set them a good example. If a brother or sister does get into bad ways, then tell your parents, who will bring the culprit back into the right path.
You must never be rude to your servants, nor look down upon them, nor plague them with unnecessary work. Good servants are one of the greatest blessings which a house can possess.
If your grandfather and grandmother or any other relations live with you, always be courteous and respectful to them, and ready to perform for them any little service, and to do for them anything in your power.
And lastly always honor old people. "Rise up before the hoary head, and honor the person of the aged man." Even heathen nations, like the Greeks Romans, reverenced gray-haired men and women, and God sometimes rewards this honor and reverence in a remarkable manner even in this world.
A Swiss girl recently came into possession of a great inheritance in the following manner. In 1550 she was standing in a great crowd near Buckingham Palace, in order to see the ladies going to the drawing room, when an old gentleman was seized with giddiness, and fell unconscious to the ground. The girl hastened up to him, helped him to rise, took him into the nearest house, and did not leave him until he had quite recovered himself. Shortly after returning to her own country she received a letter from a London solicitor, saying that the old gentleman had died without heirs, and had bequeathed to her his whole fortune, amounting to fifty thousand pounds.
A friend of mine once related to me the following anecdote of his boyhood. “One day, when I was about twelve years old, and was coming back from a hard day's work in the fields under the hot summer's sun, I met my father on his way into the nearest town; “Rudolf. I wish you would take this parcel to town for me” said he, stopping short; "I intended to go myself, but I don't feel very well." I was tired, and therefore was not particularly pleased at having to walk the whole way to town, but I would not vex my father, so I took the parcel from him, and set off as fast as I could. When I got home again, our servants ran out to meet me, their eyes red with crying. "Your father has just died suddenly, " they said; "his last words were, “Rudolf has always been a good son to me.' "
Children, always remember to behave to your parents in such a manner that they may be able to say on their deathbeds: "John or Mary has always been a good, dutiful child to me." Then you will always think of the home of your childhood with joy and thankfulness.
"Where ends our straggling village-street,
Where runs the mill-stream flecked with foam,
Its porch embowered in roses sweet,
There stands my early childhood's home.
My father and my mother dwell
There still, and many a fervent prayer
Those faithful hearts that love me well
Have daily offered for me there.
My cradle there you yet may see,
My baby-lips there learned to pray,
'Mid fancies bright and careless glee
My happy boyhood passed away.
No castle strong, nor mansion fair,
No spot on earth where ever I roam,
Can with that lovely roof compare,
My father's house, my childhood's home."
taken from: The Dutiful Child, Imprimatur 1898