'Honor Thy Father and Mother' Exodus 20:12
Let's be real, I think the Lord had teenagers in mind when He came up with the fourth commandment. It's no secret that the teen years are often the hardest when it comes to the parent-child relationship.
But does it have to be that way?
Not at all! When we realize that we have a responsibility to honor our parents, the relationship becomes a lot easier. Here's a little piece of my experience with the 4th commandment.
Catholic All Alone
I am the daughter of a non-practicing Catholic father and a non-practicing, German Lutheran mother; so naturally, I grew up practicing nothing. But you better believe the Lord threw invitations my way throughout my life. When I was 15, one of those invitations came in the form of my best friend at the time; she invited me to Mass and Life Teen, and for some reason I decided to say yes. A year later I received my Sacraments of initiation into the Catholic Church and here I am, six years later, more in love with the Lord than I ever could have imagined.
Since my conversion, the Lord has called me to be an invitation to others in various ways: a Life Teen and Edge core member, a summer missionary, and through random encounters with people in my life. There is nothing I love more than to share my faith with others. However, until this past year, 'others' meant anyone who wasn't my family.
For some strange reason (*cough* the devil), I kept my faith to myself when it came to my family until recently. After Life Nights and retreats, my parents would ask how it was and in my head I'd think, 'They don't go to mass, they don't care, they wont understand,' and then I would give them the typical, 'Fine.' Instead of sharing my new faith with my family, I resented them for not being practicing Catholics, even though I knew I could do a lot to change that. I could be their invitation.
Well, throughout this past year, the Lord really began to show me the truth. I've realized my heart was created with a desire for a holy family, but I've been resenting the fact that I don't yet have one. Everything changed when God asked me one little question:
'What are you going to do about it?'
The fourth Commandment smacked me in the face with a giant wake up call. How had I been honoring my parents since my conversion? I had been shutting them off from my faith, and then getting upset that they weren't a part of my faith! I wasn't honoring them or God my Father either by being selfish with His invitations.
Stop! Hatin’ is Bad
So I decided to stop. I had to stop being selfish and angry, and start being hopeful and joyful. For the first time I started to pray for God to move in my family's hearts and you better believe He is!
As it turns out, my parents really do care and even more importantly, they desire to know the Lord more than I ever knew they did. My non-Catholic mother even comes to Sunday mass with me now and the conversations we have afterwards often go a lot further than the short 'Fine' I used to answer with.
Honoring your father and mother goes so much farther than not lying to or fighting with them. Here are some Do's and Don'ts that may just help you turn your typical parent-child relationship into one abounding in grace and love.
How to Obey the Fourth Commandment
- Invite your parents into a relationship with you. Tell them about your day and don't settle for 'fine.'
- Realize that they aren't here to ruin your life! After God, they are our greatest gift and deserve great honor (CCC #2197 …read it!)
- Listen to what your parents tell you. They know a lot more than what you give them credit for. Unless it's outside of our Catholic morals, obey your parents. God first, parents second. But a very important second!
- Pray for them!!! Your parents need your prayers. Whether they are the holiest people you know or aren't practicing like my parents, ask God to bring them into a deeper conversion so they can help lead you to Heaven.
- Get to know St. Monica and Our Mother Mary. Two super legit moms who know what's up!
- Do not be selfish! They want to be a part of your life and want you to be a part of theirs too. Ask them how their day was and really listen.
- Don't fight or yell at them. Be respectful, they gave you life.
- And whatever you do, avoid being angry or resentful towards them. If you are, pray deeply into why you feel that way and immediately resolve it!
Will you join me in praying for an increase of holy families who truly live out the 10 Commandments?
Here I'll start us off,
Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee . . .