Taking My Cues
I take my cues for my role as a father and husband from my own father. He and my mother raised nine children to love and serve God. They did that by modeling the faith to the best of their ability — with honesty and integrity. Most importantly, they prayed individually, together, and with their children.
I also take my cues from the wisdom of my favorite saint—John Paul the Great. I had the great honor to meet him five times. My new book 100 Ways John Paul II Changed the World (Our Sunday Visitor, 2020) is a unique unpacking of his legacy, primarily for those who grew up after his death in 2005.
When he canonized John Paul II in 2014, Pope Francis called him the “pope of the family” — and for good reason. Family and community, John Paul wrote, are inextricably linked: “The parents create the family as a complement to and extension of their love. To create a family means to create a community.”
The number one task of parents, in my experience, is to “live Catholic.” That means we’re obliged to learn, live, and spread the Catholic faith. We learn it first so we can live it. We read Catholic books, we get our news from authentic Catholic sources, we listen to Catholic radio. We live it by receiving the sacraments as frequently as possible, by having a fervent prayer life (along, with our spouse, and as a family), and by being models of true holiness by being “other-centered.” We spread it by living it at home and in public. Contrary to the quote often mis-attributed to St. Francis, we must use words often to convince, rebuke, and exhort (2 Tim 4:2).
John Paul II taught that family is the “domestic church.” He challenged parents to build a faith-filled environment where their children would learn their true identity as adopted sons and daughters of God.
In a 1995 homily, he said, “Catholic parents must learn to form their family as a ‘domestic Church,’ a church in the home as it were, where God is honored, his law is respected, prayer is a normal event, virtue is transmitted by word and example, and everyone shares the hopes, the problems and sufferings of everyone else. All this is not to advocate a return to some outdated style of living: it is to return to the roots of human development and human happiness!”
We Must Pray
We must be men of prayer. Having your own prayer time is essential. Pray with your wife daily. Pray with your family daily—and not only at meals. Pray the rosary as a family. Make prayer a central part of your family’s rhythm. If our families are built on prayer, they will thrive.
In Familiaris Consortio, John Paul wrote, “At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it … the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society.”
John Paul understood the big picture and wrote with urgency: “The future of humanity passes by way of the family. It is therefore indispensable and urgent that every person of good will should endeavor to save and foster the values and requirements of the family.”
Patrick Novecosky is the founder of NovaMedia, a leading marketing, communications firm in the Catholic space. He’s a best-selling author, international speaker, pro-life activist, husband, and father of five children.