Pray For Children

"And lead us not into temptation"


Our sins result from our consenting to temptation; we therefore ask our Father not to "lead" us into temptation. But God never leads us into temptation: "God cannot be tempted by evil and he himself tempts no one". Neither does God impose the good; he wants free beings. No one but God knows what our soul has received from him, not even we ourselves. But temptation reveals it in order to teach us to know ourselves, and in this way we discover our evil inclinations and are obliged to give thanks for the goods that temptation has revealed to us. Cf. (CCC 2846)

As we enter into what has been described as a heatwave, to coincide with a time of relaxation for parents and children when holidays from work and school begin in earnest, we once again consider the consequences - or not - of being freed from the shackles, to get out from under the thumb of oppression and let our collective hair down for a short period of freedom in our lives. How do parents, and parents and children, actually cope with the necessity to exercise restraint from temptation, at a time when most of us just simply want to 'be free' to relax and, yes, enjoy ourselves?

The battle between Flesh and Spirit

The preceeding paragraphs have touched on themes which we have explored before - temptation, free will, and the inner strength to do good. God wants to set us free from evil. As humans, we are truly engaged in the battle "between flesh and spirit". Yet, by gifting us free will, God will not shield us from temptation per se. Clearly he does not wish us to succumb to the ways of evil. Rather, through the Holy Spirit, He has given us the qualities to discern between being tempted and consenting to temptation. The Holy Spirit makes us discern between trials, which are necessary for the growth of the inner man, and temptation, which leads to sin and death.Cf. (CCC 2847)

We are aware from the Old Testament story about Sodom and Gomorrah, of the consequences of unbridled temptation. It is not a new phenomenon. This battle between flesh and spirit commences with our birth. As humans, we are only too aware, especially in later years, of the tremendous and sometimes calamitous changes in our mortal coil. We appear to be constantly striving for something called maturity in our lives, which unfortunately can appear to develop simultaneously with a gradual disintegration of our once strong, beautiful bodies !

When we were children though, we didn't concern ourselves with dentures and replacement hips. Our parents protected us as best they could, depending on their personal circumstances. Yet, at some stage we were exposed to the big, wide world and all the strange and wonderful, and not so wonderful sights that that entailed. Even under supervision, we learned what it was like to 'be on your own'.

Our Catholic upbringing guaranteed a continuous nourishment of our souls, through the gifts of Baptism, First Confession, First Communion and Confirmation, interspersed with regular mass attendance. At the latter, we received constant reminders of the difference between good and evil, and what God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit desired us to do.

As we learned, though, we sometimes learned the hard way. That much-maligned period of our lives known as the teenage years comes in for a lot of attention, generating some interesting memories; especially at this time of the year. We have already read locally of an interesting, impromptu beach party held by junior cert students and the resultant clean-up which went on for days. Some of us may have been requested to buy liquor in an off-licence, by teenagers who did not know us 'from Adam', and wondered afterwards what was it that drew them to us for assistance. What parent hasn't wrestled with worries and doubts over Flesh and Spirit festivals, under-age discos and sleep-overs, while coping with soaring temperatures and raging hormones. P.S. Don't forget the debs ball.

And, yet...Wimbledon is on. And, thankfully, there are still young children, and indeed adults, who are inspired to whip out rackets and do forearms smashes and two-handed backhands on the roads and greens outside our houses, for the next two weeks. And before and after that, the same children or their friends will engage in regular games of soccer on the same stretch of grass and tarmac. With these lovely temperatures in their twenties, the beaches will draw large crowds. Yes, there will be lots of temptations there but succumbing to an occasional '99', a burger and chips or a ride on the dodgems seems harmless, compared to the dreadful alternatives.

In a side-bar to the above, it is comforting to read about the punishment meted out to athletes who are 'caught' using illegal substances, to 'boost' their performances in all well-known sports. They are inevitably punished for 'cheating', for gaining an unfair advantage over their competitors. Hopefully, their punsihment concentrates their minds on the impact on their health, too.

It is possible to have a great time during Summer during these long, wonderful days. You can run free along a beach or though a field, have endless games with your friends, swim or splash around in the sea, enjoy good food at picnics and barbecues or while dining out. You can go shopping, watch the latest blockbuster in the cinema, travel abroad.

While families play together, there is surely hope that their collective and supportive spirits - and I'm thinking here of the role played by grandparents too - will ward off the worst aspects of temptation.

Inevitably, though, some if not all parents will be told by some if not all their children one day, that they have no interest in family holidays anymore, and that, this year, they are heading to Ibiza. Yes, the horrors that that word conjures up for worried mothers and fathers. And as if it wasn't enough to have nightmares about the scenarios, they have just simply being confirmed by regular, televised programmes on the debauched behaviours of teenagers and young adults eagerly succumbing to the 'sins of the flesh'.

An alliance of Flesh and Spirit

Why should there be some demanding rite of passage, some necessity to dare us on to do deeds, some forbidden act to be experienced in order that we may learn? Why that element of battle or conflict?

Enough people, it seems, somehow manage to survive those turbulent younger, tempting years, and through marriage (or partnership) forge relationships, which they work on through discipline, and aided by funds from jobs or careers achieved through learning and/or influence, succeed in creating families of their own - the CSO confirms this. Enough people exist to lend sympathy and support to the survivors and relations, after natural and man-made disasters, to generate a spirit to survive. But wouldn't it be wonderful if we didn't have to suffer temptation, or disasters to bring out the best in us?

Pope Francis, in his morning meditation in the chapel of the Domus Sanctae Marthae, on the 9th April 2013, spoke about the enemies of gentleness. While specifically referring to the 'daily events' of gossip, or the 'temptations of the Evil One', he said that conflicts always exist in the family, the neighbourhood, even among friends. When we are born, the Holy Spirit makes us gentle and kind, but, in the holy father's words, the Evil One 'does not want the Spirit to create this gentleness...' Pope Francis required us to 'ask the Lord to show us and the world the beauty and fullness of this new life, of being born of the Spirit, of treating each other with kindness, with respect.'

Yes, a gentle soul will have no need to do battle with his or her body, or indeed any other individual. Instead, there will be an alliance of the flesh and the spirit and a firm but gentle rebuttal to temptation.

This month let us keep all young people in our prayers that God's will may be done in them and that they will be safe and enjoy their summer break.

Summer Time and the living ain't easy.

Our Intention for the month of July is to pray for the protection of children/young people during the holiday season.

Its that time of year again; the long days and nights, the brighter, warmer days. Children and young people are off school; and parents have to up their game to stay on top. Yes, it's summer time; and where once, perhaps, the living might have been easy, it most certainly is not anymore. As parents, we might long for the 'holidays' but we do not get a break from our resonsibilities to our children.

A teacher once stated that schools were glorified creches and baby-sitting institutions. Perhaps he was having a particularly bad day when he said that, but have some of us not breathed a sigh of relief when our children do return to school? From the moment that schools are out, there are so many pitfalls and temptations surrounding us in the modern world, that we as parents need to pray for protection for children and young people, during the holiday In a home where both parents have to work, the need to provide a 'baby-sitting' service all day-everyday, does not diminish when schools are finally out for Summer. In households where one parent has a permanent stay-at-home role, he or she must increase his or her efforts to care and cater for their school-children. Even in a situation where these responsibilities are equally shared, it is still an extra load to take on board.

Can we afford to send them to summer-school this year? Should we take care of the book-list now or leave it till later? The bigger ones are going to need new school clothes this time, too; although we could let down those trousers...Mary wants to have a sleep-over and she needs money for a birthday party next week. Rain again, tomorrow. We don't want them stuck inside watching television and playing computer games all of the time: the noise is getting to us already and God knows what they'll be looking at, if we have to dash out to the shops and leave them alone! At some stage, whether we can really afford it or not, we may definitely decide that we need a holiday.

Cliff Richard sang about a wonderful Summer holiday where there were no more worries for a week or two; and people were doing things (that) they always wanted to. Perhaps that's a fair enough outlook when you're young - and single - but for those of us fortunate enough to have children, we know that those wonderful aspirations are difficult to achieve, even or especially when on holidays. Take the beach, for example. It's a wonderful place to be on a warm, sunny day. The children play with gay abandon and the parents sit back and let the experience envelop them. That wasn't the experience of some familes recently at our local beach, when droves of young people held a massive beach party which turned into a drink-fuelled riot, resulting in considerable police intervention.

Camping, caravaning or flying 'abroad' can be wonderfully exciting and exhillarating, but any of these pursuits entails many dangers. However difficult it may be to watch and mind children in your own country, it is far more difficult in a country where the language and culture are so different as to present considerable barriers. These however are surmountable and not the greatest threat. It is probably human nature that once you arrive at your choice of destination, the 'holiday time attitude' of letting your hair down and doing the things that you always wanted to, may surface.

The first visits to the pool should be simple fun for all the family, but before you can say 'buenas dias', your ears are being assailed with a constant succession of foul language, emanating from the mouths of older children. Before you can object, you get walloped in the face with a soccer ball, and then get admonished by an irate parent for being a 'killjoy'.

At least there are the night entertainments of karaoke machines and tribute bands to look forward to. But is it right to bring young children to open-air entertainments where drink flows copiously and some of the attendance may be badly inebriated, to the extent where their manners and their language flow down the gutter? What if this environment is not 'cool' enough for 'kids' and they leave your side, for even the smallest amount of time? What if you have teenagers, who may want to be more adventurous, and get lured to all-night foam parties, while you stay awake into the dawn, worrying whether they will return safely or not? The last thing you wanted on holidays was blazing rows and threats of 'grounding'.

So whats the alternative? Stay at home and suffer a build-up of frustration together? It has probably been a hard year. Surely, there's some way for you and your family to get the break that you deserve, to behave responsibly and to protect your children at the same time? There is no easy solution, no right or wrong way here. It is really a balancing act for parents. However, there are some safety measures you can implement or be aware of.

Protecting Children During the Holidays

Beware of Dangers

By Charles Montaldo

When shopping, either at home or abroad, teach your children to go to a sales assistant and ask for help in case they get separated from you. Teach them to stay close to you at all times while shopping. Never allow them to make unaccompanied trips to the toilet.

Children should never be allowed to go to the car alone and they should never be left alone in the car.

The bottom line should be: Never let your children out of your sight. Whatever their surroundings, though, teach children their full name, address and (your) telephone number to give to police officers, lifeguards or store security persons. Teach children to immediately inform you if a stranger is bothering them.

Alcohol poisoing is a common risk for children during the holiday season. In addition to visiting licensed premises, many parents host or attend holiday parties where alcohol is served. Parents must take care to remove all empty and partially empty cups as soon as possible. Because kids imitate adults, many may drink the beverages they see adults drinking. Children become "drunk" much more quickly than adults, so even small amounts of alcohol can be dangerous. Perhaps, most importantly, behave and act responsibly in your childrens' presence, while enjoying yourselves. Your bad behaviour may influence and have a direct bearing on more than your own family members.

Food poisoning is another potential holiday hazard. Practice food safety by washing hands, utensils, dishes, and anything else that comes in contact with raw meat, including poultry and fish, and raw eggs before and after use. Don't contaminate a serving dish with raw meat. Store leftovers properly and heat them thoroughly before serving. Watch out at those wonderful 'all-you-can-eat' carveries abroad. Don't encourage your children to eat six plates of ice-cream!

During summer months, turn off and tune in

Turn off all objects that create noise -lap tops, computers, televisions, radios, etc... Tune into God's wonderful gift of creation. Spend time at the sea, at Castles, having picnics, playing games, cycling, climbing hills, going fishing, swimming, etc. Teach your younger children to love the outdoors in fine weather, playing games like hop-scotch, skipping, ball-games, rock-pool fishing ; and simple games when wet like jigsaws, 'I spy', paint a picture for God. Simplicity is the key to happiness so lets keep it simple this summer. God bless.