My wife and I created this list of nine habits to help our own family. Then families of our friends started asking about them, which is why we decided to prepare a complete program. In June 2018, the first seven families completed a full, nine-month program. To our amazement and joy, they decided to stay together and support each other even after the end of the program!
“Isn’t my family strong enough, already?” Some ask. Or, even: “Am I not a good parent? I care for my family and provide everything that matters!”
Frankly, that may be very true. You might do your best to develop good Catholic virtues in your children, to be a part of their lives, to guide them … so did we! Until we realized that despite our best efforts, there are only two of us spending a few hours a day with our children versus hundreds of other people attracting them all day long with their enticing stories! YouTubers, movie & TV celebrities, fashion bloggers, advertising specialists, teachers, friends, and many more. That could be quite beneficial if those stories were consistent with our stories and conveyed the same message about virtues, the nature of the world and faith, but honestly, this is not the case.
Chaos of ideas and values
Today’s world supplies us with a chaos of ideas. It promotes anti-values and spreads ideas ridiculing the Catholic faith and virtues. The last 20 years was a period of unprecedented propaganda of mind mingling ideas emanating from many direct channels such as internet and TV networks. Like it or not, all of this is meant to reach every one of us, children especially, and it does! The devil, through his agents, does his best to literally disconnect children from family. Parents are replaced with a wide range of false idols offering alternative sets of so-called values. What’s worse, such propaganda confuses even us parents!
To put it bluntly: they want to take our children away from us!
Of course, not every one of those people is an agent of evil. I remember a sentence of one wise Polish woman who used to say: “Do not underestimate the power of stupidity.” That proves to be very true; many of those spreading chaos are just “poleznyj idioty” (useful idiots), the term Lenin used for supporters of Communist propaganda in Western countries. Nevertheless, all of them pour constantly chaotic or anti-Catholic propaganda onto our families.
The riddle that opened my eyes
All of this causes chaos within our families, in all aspects of everyday life. You might think, “No, not with my family!” I thought the same until about ten years ago I stumbled upon a very innocent riddle in an old book. Try it for yourself now:
“If we agree that a horse’s tail is also a leg, how many legs does a horse have?”
Think of your answer for a moment and remember it.
For the last 15 years I was asking this riddle hundreds of times during my speeches or workshops, only to realize that the world is truly in chaos. Why? Almost every time attendees split into two groups (similar in numbers) – the first group answering “4 legs” with the other saying “5 legs.” Every time my asking for an explanation led to intense discussions. I would always end it with the answer of the riddle’s author, an old professor from the Faculty of Logic:
“My good people, regardless of what we agreed, a horse has just four legs!’
The riddle was intended to show everyone that the ideology of relativism has spread and infected many of us. You can check it for yourself: tell this riddle to your family and friends. No one today is completely free from this disease. To be honest with you, my first answer was “5 legs.”
One more revelation struck me: how can we possibly work out more demanding topics (with our wives, husbands, children, friends, neighbors, and others) if we cannot agree on how many legs a horse has?
Misunderstanding of the true nature of the world, defying its logic and concepts worked out by Catholic civilization, leads to deforming almost everything that makes our everyday life. Not only our Faith is affected but also our responsibilities, activities, communication, time management … literally everything! That chaos weakens our families, making them conflicted and unable to solve even basic problems in a constructive way because their members no longer share the same set of values. Additionally, you can be sure that all those chaos agents won’t stop their propaganda. They will do it over and over again, using attractive methods, tools and channels.
The truth will set you free!
So, everything starts with the concept of truth as the foundation of the 9 Habits program: a truth rooted in the words of Jesus Christ, the concept of Catholic civilization and the set of definitions it provides. With this in mind there can be only one true answer to the riddle and that is “4 legs.” We cannot negotiate what truth is; facts cannot be agreed upon. Truth can only be discovered and facts can only be observed: this is a Catholic way of life. Sadly, many times I meet Catholics fiercely defying this answer, saying, “But we agreed!” That leads to a world where everything is just a matter of agreement: a slug can become a fish; a carrot can become a fruit … as it has been agreed within the European Union!
The only earthly way to protect Catholic identity of our families (children especially), is a regular use of effective methods – and that is why habits are the answer. Habits in the form of regular, wise activities restoring, protecting, and developing the Catholic identity of a family and relations between its members.
9 Habits of Strong Catholic Families is a program that allows every parent to design a complete set of such habits for their family. It works through practical daily, weekly, monthly, and special activities that enhance every important aspect of Catholic family life.
Start your habits today!
There are two main categories of habits: fundamental (stated above) and operational.
Operational habits are practical daily, weekly, and monthly activities that cover various areas of family life. In my next post I will tell you more about what they are and how every family can put them to good use. Until then, I would recommend that you try one of them.
This one is essential for parents and can be used by older kids also. It helps bring order back into our thinking. It will take 30 minutes of your time once or twice a week. At first glance it looks almost trivial, but believe me, it works! And the first operational habit is: reading what I call A+ literature. For instance: anything by Aristotle or St. Thomas Aquinas, The Divine Comedy by Dante, Quo Vadis by Sienkiewicz, Orthodoxy by Chesterton; you get the picture. It is not about reading it quickly but about challenging yourself with the best.
There is a second step to this habit: every time you come across something that really moved you share it with your whole family. During a family meal, if possible.
How will you practice the 9 Habits with your family this week?
Copyright 2018 Jacek Malkowski
About the author: Jacek Malkowski is a Catholic husband and father of three who lives in Warsaw, Poland. Jacek is a business & personal skills trainer and coach, author of the “Battle of Civilization” workshop and “9 Habits of Strong Catholic Families” program aimed at restoring true Catholic identity and protecting children from toxic messages, and designer of the New Evangelization tool in form of a faith-based family adventure game, “The Road to Bethlehem.”