November 2017 Print

The Last Word

Dear readers,

Authority Begins at Home

As “charity begins at home,” so does authority. It will be no doubt one of the first concepts that the little infant will learn: someone is over him, governs him, and this is all for his own good. It will indeed take many years for him to know the word authority, but its objective reality will be manifest from his very birth. And related to this authority will be his own spirit of submission.

If he sees that mother and father are always united in their exercise of authority, that although they are two, nevertheless they are of one will, he will have no option but to eventually submit and obey. Thus he will grow, which is the purpose of authority, a word coming from the Latin “to grow,” augere, auctus. Any human authority is a little participation in God’s own authority and should make both the one endowed with it grow, since all talents should make us grow, as well those under authority when it is exercised properly.

Wounded by Original Sin, the child, still at a very young age, may try to create a conflict between his father and his mother, he will seek the weaker of the two: if mother says no, perhaps father will say yes! Parents must be acutely aware of this danger. I was even told by a mother that her little but clever daughter almost provoked the divorce of her parents, until they discovered her game.

This is a fundamental element of education which many parents, and not just the younger ones, often do not fully understand.

This unity between the bearers of authority is not needed only at home. Parents share their authority with the school teacher. And they must be aware that the old wound will certainly show its ugly face again: the child will try to oppose teachers and parents. If parents give in always defending the child against the teacher—often without knowing the whole story—it is their own authority which they undermine in fact, because “all authority comes from God.”

Lastly, and here it is even more delicate, parents must be careful not to criticize their own priests, especially in front of their children. Such an attitude could kill the growth of a vocation in a young soul. What responsibility!

“Give an account of your authority!”

Fr. Daniel Couture