We've been reading the Little House on the Prairie series this year, the girls and I. It's hard not to get caught up in the simplicity of it. The Ingalls family worked hard, played hard, prayed hard. They appreciated the little they had with an intensity almost difficult to comprehend in our day; we have so much and complain about all of it. Even about the fact that we feel guilty for having so much. If we can only get "off the grid," if we can only buy and eat all-natural products, if we can only pare down to the bare essentials like the pioneers, we just might be able to get back to that beautiful simplicity.
But is the simplicity we're looking for a cause or an effect?
And are we missing the forest for the trees?
Almost all of my growing up years, I was a voracious reader, and loved, most of all, to get lost in historical fiction. Next to the romance, honor and beauty of olden days, modern times always seemed drab, coarse, and ugly, and I wished there were some kind of time machine that could transport me back. I would even have risked the lack of penicillin and television for a chance!
Just to get to wear the dresses!Even now, I wish some afternoon digging around in our cluttered barn I could stumble across a time machine. Sure, I'd seriously think of squeezing the whole family in and transporting back in time. But, not so much for the dresses and romance. Not even so much for the simple, honest way of doing things, as for the ethic that drove the world back then.
Now, I know full well that life wasn't perfect in the olden days; evil has always and will always exist. Life was hard back then, and very fragile. But, there was a certain standard of behaviour that was the norm in the Christian world up until about fifty years ago that we've lost. Women knew what it meant to be ladylike, even if they didn't behave that way. Even the roughest men knew what it meant to be a gentleman. Hard work was honored. Before mass media confused the issue and brought the world onto our desktops, people, in general, had a better instinctive understanding of their place in the universe. Christ was still King and He held court in the living rooms and hearts of families, from where He ruled the world.
That's where our world needs to find its identity again and save itself. The idea of rediscovering the simplicity of another time through homesteading or living "green" is a worthy cause, but that alone will not take us back to a better time. The more lasting and genuine accomplishment can only come as a byproduct of a greater goal.
Isn't it really that old fashioned work ethic we want? Don't we really want to see a return of personal responsibility and genuine courtesy? I know I want the world to just be a nicer place. None of these things comes from paring down our belongings. These things come from Christ's rule over our hearts.
~~~Our families are the Church in miniature; they are the world in miniature. In the same way that we should never allow the worldly media to control the heart of our homes, we should never accept that the various world governments have a claim on our families. It is not only our right, but our responsibility to raise our families under the dominion of Christ the King. All other authority is secondary to His.
And parents have no greater duty than to educate their children in an environment that kneels before this kingship of the Blessed Trinity.Over a hundred years ago, Laura Ingalls Wilder counseled the children at the end of her first teaching job to be grateful for the education they received through public schooling, but to remember that their education lay in their own hands. Abraham Lincoln was home educated and they had every opportunity that he had at their disposal to learn from home as well. It was an option that was taken for granted. Families took it upon themselves to see to their children's upbringing, and chose the methods of education they saw as best.
Today, in many places, that same option is denied families. In fact, California is on the verge right now of outlawing homeschooling. And in doing so, they deny the primacy of the family and inhibit the religious freedom of the families who live there. It's a sad time that such a thing could happen in our country.
I wish we could go back to a time where a move like this would be unthinkable.
I wish we could take the environmental movement and turn it into a re-election of Christ as King of America. Everything would be solved then.
Is it possible to effect this kind of change of heart in the world today?
Of course it is: "All things are possible to him that believes."
And this is how: "Ask and ye shall recieve: that your joy may be full."
They're still eight months away, and the airwaves are full of the U.S. presidential elections, but there is a more important campaign we need to obsess about as Catholics. We must fill the heavens with our prayers for Christ's rule in America.
This is the simple answer to all the complicated problems. And it's a way of going back and forward and upward all at the same time.