The major goal during the second stage of the spiritual life of a Catholic man as a Catholic Father is to mature beyond his obedience as a Catholic Son and to lead others to become adopted sons and daughters of the Almighty Father; a Catholic Father has moved beyond simply not rebelling against God to actively striving to cooperate with the calling to help build the Holy Catholic Church, starting with his family, his own Domestic Church Militant.
There are 7 Major Habits of Catholic Fathers (Major Habits 8-14 of Catholic Manhood) and 28 smaller Habits (Habits 28-52 of Catholic Sons and Fathers) which can help a man grow in his vocation as a Catholic Father. The more vigorously a man meditates upon and practices these habits the more he will accelerate his spiritual ascent, particularly if he focuses upon habits which are holding him back as a Catholic Father. To help a man assess his progress, for each of the 7 Major Habits of a Catholic Father, there are a series of questions which can help a man focus upon small steps to help him grow in holiness (see below: Assessing the spiritual progress of a Catholic Father).
A word of encouragement: Becoming a Catholic Father is one of the most challenging (and rewarding) things any man can aspire to do. Excelling in the habits may sometimes seem impossible to achieve, for every Catholic father battles to protect his family from the attacks of Satan and the very strong work of Satan in the modern culture, a culture that is depraved and at times seems to wash over and overwhelm his family. God, the Almighty Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, is thrilled and delighted when you desire to draw closer to the Blessed Trinity and aspire to grow in holiness as a Catholic Father. God loves you and will help make you a saint; all you need to do is rely on God and consistently do your best and God will give you the grace to become a saint. It will not be easy, but St. Joseph, the patron of the Catholic Church and Catholic fathers will intercede on your behalf. St. Joseph, pray for us!
The 7 Habits of Catholic Fathers
Major Habit 8 – Build Unity with Your Bride
Build Unity with Your Bride by entering into the Sacrament of Marriage and building a shared Catholic faith life through which the husband and wife seek the salvation of each other.
Habit 25 – Practice Daily Prayer with your Bride
Practice Daily Prayer with your Bride, building on the graces of the Sacrament of Matrimony, praying together multiple times per day (upon rising, at meals, before retiring) in daily gratitude to God, for the needed Graces of the Holy Spirit, and for intercession of the Saints and Angels to guide and protect you.
Habit 26 – Make Daily Sacrifices for your bride
Make Daily Sacrifices for your bride, humbly and meekly seeking to do many small acts of kindness (expressing your love, listening, patience, recognizing her unique gifts, favors, complimenting, honors, deferring, etc.), imitating the self-sacrifice of St. Joseph.
Habit 27 – Lovingly Give and Accept Correction
Lovingly Give and Accept Correction, prudently and courageously practicing the Spiritual Works of Mercy and humbly admitting your own errors and making amends to your bride.
Habit 28 – Pursue Perpetual Courtship
Pursue Perpetual Courtship, reminding your bride of your romantic love for her beauty and in the offering of conjugal love, open and joyful for the gift of children.
Major Habit 9 – Establish Authority, Order, and Culture in your Domestic Church
Establish Authority, Order, and Culture in your Domestic Church by asserting your God-given headship of the family, firmly and charitably setting rules, and building a robust Catholic culture in the home.
Habit 29 – Establish and Maintain Just Authority in your family
Establish and Maintain Just Authority in your family, asserting your God-given headship of the father, in cooperation/participation with your bride (the mother), and to lovingly lead the family by imitating the self-sacrificing love of St. Joseph.
Habit 30 – Maintain Order and Rules in your family
Maintain Order and Rules in your family, offering the children fatherly direction by rules of behavior, providing predictable rewards and punishments to help the children learn to love and respect the dignity of their parents, each other and others.
Habit 31 – Build a Robust Catholic Family Culture
Build a Robust Catholic Family Culture with your bride in which your home has many visual symbols of the faith (Crucifix, beautiful images of Christ/Saints, candles, scents, music, Blessing of the Home) and family life revolves around the continual joy in practicing the Catholic faith, making it obvious to all that your family is a joyfully and devoutly Catholic.
Habit 32 – Cultivate Catholic Family Friendships
Cultivate Catholic Family Friendships by ensuring the family has a relationship with the parish priest, regularly engaging in parish/parish school activities and frequently hosting/gathering social events with other Catholic families, leading the children to love and be influenced by many devout Catholics.
Major Habit 10 – Lead your Family to a Deeper Union with God
Lead your Family to a Deeper Union with God, imitating the example of Jesus Christ, the Blessed Virgin Mary, St. Joseph and Saints.
Habit 33 – Lead Family Prayer
Lead Family Prayer, praying at every meal, reading Scripture, praying a family Rosary, praying in times of conflict and joy, giving each child a father’s blessing and praying together at bedtime; the family should come to treasure and seek to imitate your prayers.
Habit 34 – Bring the Family to the Sacraments
Bring the Family to the Sacraments, baptizing each child, building a routine of monthly Saturday Confession, attending Sunday Mass and regular daily Mass, encouraging sons to serve as altar boys, and sons and daughters to support beautiful liturgies (chant, choir, preparation of the altar, etc.).
Habit 35 – Build Family Devotion to the Saints
Build Family Devotion to the Saints with special emphasis on the Blessed Virgin Mary and St. Joseph, devotion to saints of special inspiration and by making family pilgrimages to holy sites.
Major Habit 11 – Evangelize and Catechize your Family
Evangelize and Catechize your Family by personally acting to help draw your bride, children and other family members to Christ Jesus and His Holy Catholic Church.
Habit 36 – Witness to each Family Member
Witness to each Family Member, regularly expressing your own conversion, gratitude, love and hope in Christ Jesus and the salvation through His Holy Catholic Church and how God is blessing you.
Habit 37 – Teach the Faith to the Family
Teach the Faith to the Family by a deliberate and sustained effort to help them understand the Catechism (Creed, the Sacraments, the Moral Life, the Prayers of the Church) and Scripture, ensuring each member of the family has a deep and defendable knowledge of the faith so they can evangelize the next generation.
Habit 38 – Teach Virtue to your Family
Teach Virtue to your Family, living a life of heroic virtue, researching and systematically teaching children Virtue (Theological, Cardinal) and to instruct and guide each soul to avoid the corrupting influence of Vices.
Habit 39 – Engage in Parish/Other Religious Education
Engage in Parish/Other Religious Education, being careful to never abdicate your personal responsibility as the father of the family for successfully passing on the faith to your children.
Habit 40 – Send your Children to Faithful Catholic Schools
Send your Children to Faithful Catholic Schools if possible, protecting them from the corruption of government schools and recognizing the sad reality that many Catholic schools do not impart the fullness of the faith; if not possible, vigilantly monitor and correct what children are learning and augment their Catholic education at home with your bride.
Habit 41 – Practice Corporal Works of Mercy
Practice Corporal Works of Mercy, drawing on the talents and efforts each member of the family to serve the poor and suffering through the many ministries of the Catholic Church.
Major Habit 12 – Protect and Defend the Family
Protect and Defend the Family spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically from Satan, demons and all evil attacks.
Habit 42 – Ensure the Family is Physically Safe
Ensure the Family is Physically Safe, locating the family in a safest neighborhood possible, prudently preparing yourself to defend your family against attack, implementing family safety plans, teaching about how to anticipate and respond to threats, and courageously taking decisive action to repel any physical threat.
Habit 43 – Limit and Monitor Media
Limit and Monitor Media, alert to the increasingly perverted and pervasive media brainwashing of children in direct opposition to Catholic teaching, rejecting most forms of modern entertainment (movies, tv, music, video games) and information sources through the internet; be radically vigilant against pornography and indecency in all its forms.
Habit 44 – Guard against Bad Influencers
Guard against Bad Influencers, forbidding contact with both adults (including extended members of the family) and children who hold views which oppose Church teaching, by vigilantly monitoring your children’s friends (and parents), and being a fierce gatekeeper to prospective romantic friendships.
Major Habit 13 – Provide for the Family
Provide for the Family, balancing the desire to give good things to the family without falling into materialism.
Habit 45 – Sacrifice to Support the Family
Sacrifice to Support the Family, setting aside selfish personal desires and to work diligently to provide for the material and educational needs of your bride and children.
Habit 46 – Balance Career and Family Duties
Balance Career and Family Duties, prudently and diligently managing your career while avoiding enslavement to work to spend generous amounts of time with the family.
Habit 47 – Practice Voluntary Poverty
Practice Voluntary Poverty, set a good example for the family by avoiding enslavement to debt and materialism/consumerism by insisting on moderation, simplicity, and frugality.
Habit 48 – Be a Good Steward
Be a Good Steward, vigilantly managing and generously using the financial gifts and resources God has given to provide for the family, to help those in need, and build the Kingdom of Christ through His Holy Catholic Church.
Major Habit 14 – Cultivate and Build the Talents of the Family
Cultivate and Build the Talents of the Family, helping each child grow in the stature and the ability to answer God’s unique call to build the Kingdom of Heaven and His Holy Catholic Church.
Habit 49 – Shepherd and Nurture Each Child
Shepherd and Nurture Each Child, spending significant time, prudently assessing strengths and weaknesses and lovingly cultivating each child’s God-given talents.
Habit 50 – Help Sons and Daughters to Mature
Help Sons and Daughters to Mature, vigilantly protecting them from diseased gender ideology, preparing sons to understand and embrace Catholic manhood as husbands and fathers and daughters to embrace the beauty of femininity and the desire to be wives and mothers.
Habit 51 – Mentor Each Child to their Vocation
Mentor Each Child to their Vocation, preparing them to discover their vocation in the service of God and His Catholic Church and ensuring each child has a deep exposure to the priesthood and religious life.
Habit 52 – Guide Adult Children
Guide Adult Children, ensuring their transition to the freedom and responsibilities of adulthood and their lives as adults by charitably and prudently encouraging and guiding them while avoiding being either controlling or over-indulgent.
Assessing the spiritual progress of a Catholic Father
To help you more fully assess your spiritual progress as a Catholic Father when you are ready to do so, the following section provides a series of questions which can help you better understand your role as a Catholic husband and father and hold yourself accountable. These questions are based on the habits and break down the habits into smaller, easier to tackle thoughts and actions so you can identify small practical steps to grow in your spiritual life as a Catholic Father.
Major Habit 8 – Build Unity with my Bride
Key Question: Is my unity with my bride in Christ strong and growing stronger?
Do I explicitly express my love to my bride every day? Does my bride know that I love her deeply?
Have I and my bride, made an explicit and continual commitment to grow in holiness daily?
Do I and my bride seek to work as a team, recognizing and appreciating our unique and complementary blessings as father and mother?
Do I and my bride strive to set an example of love and unity by demonstrating the fruits of harmony, peace and joy in our marriage to our children and others?
Do I and my bride have a daily practice of prayer, individually and together, rooted in God’s Word, in which we praise God, beg for forgiveness and ask Him to strengthen our marriage?
Do I strive on a daily basis to humbly and meekly to make loving sacrifices for my bride?
Do I repent and ask forgiveness of my bride when I have done things that hurt or offend her or have failed to do things that honor and serve her?
Do I listen intently to my bride, consider and respond to her concerns and ideas?
Do I support my bride in her struggle for happiness and holiness?
Do I and my bride courageously correct and humbly accept correction with deep charity from each other?
Do I regularly tell my bride of my love and my admiration for her many gifts and sacrifices?
Do I engage in the offering of conjugal love, open to the blessing of children?
Have I damaged our conjugal union through the use of artificial contraception or sterilization?
Have I failed to reverently respect my bride’s desires and body, but instead used her for my own sexual pleasure?
Have I been unfaithful to my bride by looking at pornography, gazing at others as sexual objects, flirting, or behaving in inappropriate ways?
Major Habit 9 – Establish Authority, Order and Culture
Key Question: Have I established and maintained Godly paternal authority, order and a Catholic Culture in my family?
Do I explicitly express my love to each member of the family regularly and does each person know that I love them deeply?
Have I been faithful to my duty to act as the head of my Domestic Church, a man accountable to God for the family?
Do we attend a Catholic parish in which the fullness of the truth is proclaimed and the Eucharist is exalted with great reverence in the Mass?
Do I lead my household with a clear demonstration of the sacrificial love of St. Joseph, laying down my life for my wife and family?
Do I continually uphold and honor the dignity of my bride to show my love and to ensure that our children show her proper respect and honor?
Do I make it clear that the truth of Christ and His Holy Catholic Church are the guiding principles of our family?
Do I exercise my paternal authority in a just way, balancing truth and mercy and always showing fatherly charity?
Do our children have a clear understanding of the “rules of the home” with clear boundaries and rewards and punishments for their behaviors?
Have I, with my bride, established and perpetuated a family Catholic Culture by honoring penitential days and holy days, and honoring the saints, especially Mary and Joseph?
Do we speak about priests and religious with respect in our household? Do we honor our bishops and our Holy Father?
Do we organize our time and activities to allow participation in the daily, weekly, and seasonal celebrations of the Church, making a special effort to make the Sabbath/Lord’s Day a day of prayer, family time and avoiding unnecessary work?
Does our home reflect our beloved Catholic faith with examples/reminders of the faith (Crucifixes, pictures, personal shrine, a place for prayer, etc.)?
Would a person visiting our home come away with a clear understanding that our home is a devoutly Catholic home?
Major Habit 10 – Lead the family to a deeper union with God
Key Question: Am I zealously leading my family in the practice of the Catholic faith so each member is drawn closer to God?
Do I, my bride, and my children seek to grow in faith, hope and charity as our primary mission?
Have I and my bride ensured that each of our children has received the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation?
Do we have a daily family practice of prayer (Rosary, prayer at meals, bedtime)?
Do I lead the family in the reading of Scripture on a regular basis?
Do I lead the family on at least a monthly basis to the Sacrament of Penance?
Do I prepare and lead the family to Sunday Mass and strive to set aside the Sabbath as a day of rest, prayer and family time?
Do I have a regular ritual of giving each member of the family the “father’s blessing” (“Essential Catholic Prayers” p ___)?
Do I regularly gather with other Catholic men, couples and families in parish activities to build strong Catholic bonds between my family and others in our parish?
Would my wife and children say that I am a man of prayer who loves the Catholic Church?
Major Habit 11 – Evangelize and Catechize the Family
Key Question: Am I fulfilling my obligation to be the first evangelizer and catechizer of my family in the truth of God as taught by His Holy Catholic Church?
Have I shared with my family my own conversion and commitment to Jesus Christ and His Catholic Church and how Christ has changed and blessed my life and led me to happiness?
Do I regularly acknowledge God’s grace and the power of the faith in an explicit way in my daily life?
Have I personally discussed with each of my family members, whether together or individually, about how God is working in our lives?
Do I demonstrate the centrality of the Catholic faith on a regular basis to my family by my words and deeds?
Have I taught my children how to pray?
Do I regularly discuss the power of the Sacraments and the essential need to receive God’s Grace?
Do I regularly discuss the power of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit and the need to grow in the Fruits of the Holy Spirit?
Am I spending time each week helping my children grow in understanding and love of the Catholic faith?
Do I routinely help my children grow in the Theological, Cardinal and Heavenly Virtues and battle against the opposing vices?
Am I with my bride fulfilling our duty as primary educators in the faith, including prayerfully and prudently considering the blessings of making the sacrifice to send our children to authentically Catholic schools?
Do I monitor what my children are learning in school and correct evil/confusion when necessary?
Do I understand and deliberately practice the Virtue of Charity through the Spiritual Works of Mercy with my spouse and children?
Does our family have a commitment to regularly practice the Virtue of Charity through regularly practicing the Corporal Works of Mercy?
Major Habit 12 – Protect the Family
Key Question: Am I protecting my family spiritually, emotionally, mentally and physically?
Am I continually vigilant to spiritually protect my family against the attacks of Satan?
Have I taken appropriate steps to keep my family safe from physical danger?
Have I taught my family how to protect themselves from danger and how to act when danger occurs?
Do I and my bride ensure that our children get proper nutrition, exercise, and healthcare?
Do I and my bride help our children learn to use their emotions in healthy ways?
Do I, with my bride, ensure the types of media and entertainment which come into the daily life of our family are morally appropriate?
Have I put in place and regularly monitored pornography defense software on our devices?
Have I protected my family from overuse of and addiction to technology?
Do I ensure that my children are modest in their dress and lifestyle?
Do I and my bride protect our children against substance abuse, and do we bear witness to the virtue of temperance in the use of alcohol?
Am I vigilant in my protection of my children by knowing their friends (and parents of friends), paying special attention to the faith and morality of their friends?
Have I screened and approved of any prospective romantic friendships for my children?
Major Habit 13 – Provide for the Family
Key Question: Do I provide for the material necessities of my family while avoiding materialism?
Do I lead my family in avoiding looking to material things for our happiness as we seek to live simply?
Have I established a financial plan that ensures the ongoing material support of my wife and children?
Have I sought to reduce debt and financial obligations to others and to live within our financial means?
Do I and my bride contribute in accord with our means to the support of the Church and the care of the poor?
Am I vigilant in avoiding excess purchases and overindulging myself, my wife and my children?
Have I sacrificed my personal desires to ensure my family’s material needs are met?
Do I actively manage my career to provide for my family while also avoiding overwork/careerism?
Do I demonstrate frugality, simplicity and good stewardship in the management of our finances and possessions?
Major Habit 14 – Cultivate Talents and Vocations of the Family
Key Question: Am I cultivating my family’s spiritual and worldly talents and vocations?
Do I spend a significant time with each child each week to ensure that they know they are loved by their father?
Do I and my bride have regular discussions about each child’s strengths and weaknesses and develop plans to help them grow in holiness?
Do I and my bride recognize and cultivate each child’s talents?
Am I thoughtfully and vigilantly guiding my sons to build masculine strengths and virtues and to learn how to be good Catholic husbands and fathers?
Am I thoughtfully and vigilantly guiding my daughters to mature in their feminine beauty, virtues and gifts and to learn how to be good Catholic wives and mothers?
Am I nurturing, educating and preparing each child to discover his or her vocation in the service of God and His Catholic Church with a deep exposure to the priesthood/religious life?
Have I established with my bride a plan to help each child transition into a competent and confident Catholic adult?
Do I support, but avoid indulging, my children as they become independent?
Am I playing an appropriate role in the guidance of my adult children?
Am I actively demonstrating the Catholic faith to my grandchildren?