You know what I find myself struggling to read? Self-help books. Especially of the parenting kind.

I suspect it has more to do with my pride than it does with me having any clue about what I’m doing. And I haven’t read many of them (aside from Dr. Ray, who I follow like he’s a rockstar), because, well, there are so many other books to read.


So when Six Sacred Rules for Families: A Spirituality for the Home arrived, I braced myself. “Nice cover,” thought I, “and I’ll reward myself by whipping through that rosary book I AM going to finish by the end of the month.”

You see, despite the fact that Elizabeth Scalia (who does not give faint praise, EVER), is quoted on the cover as saying, “I loved this book and couldn’t put it down.”, I wasn’t expecting a good read.

Parenting self-help type book = fight off the snoring tendencies.

Boy, was wrong.

(When will I learn? Not today, apparently.)

I was on page ix when I realized I was going to love this book:

Now, full disclosure: our family doesn’t perfectly reflect these rules every day—we doubt that anyone’s family does or even can. We are not perfectly pious people, living blissfully conflict-free lives according to a preordained divine plan. Any parent understands that raising children is about living within the tension of knowing what is good for them (and ourselves) while at the same time negotiating the basic reality of what is happening right now.


Still, the rules (whether for nutrition, good psychological health, or—in this case—a strong faith life) help give us a compass point, both when the skies are clear and when there are storms.

The rules, when I saw them on the next page, seemed…well, a bit more theoretical than I would ever be able to pull off, catechist and writer though I may be. And yet they embody a set of guidelines that I would do well to remember myself.

And maybe that’s really the key. My children can’t help but be influenced by the way I live my life, right?

There is theory and theology in these pages, but this book is also full of practical wisdom and ways to apply the rules:

  1. God brings our family together on pilgrimage.
  2. Our love for one another leads to joy.
  3. Our family doesn’t care about “success.”
  4. God stretches our family toward his Kingdom.
  5. God will help us.
  6. We must learn which desires lead us to freedom.

The book isn’t just about these rules and explaining how to apply them and integrate them into your family life. There’s an introductory section that lays the foundation, a description of the rules, and a section of application.

This is the kind of book I’ll be dipping back into, reminding myself of my priorities and the helps I have, encouraging myself on this parenting journey. Having another soul entrusted to you is a huge responsibility, and if I’m not careful, I’ll curl up in a fetal position and just give up.

Thanks to Tim and Sue Muldoon, though, I have a toolbox between the covers of a slim red book.

Too often people think of vocation as the work they do, and they consequently think primarily about training their children for types of work. Vocation, though, is about the persons we are, not just the work we do. Our work flows out of the kinds of people we are, but our vocation transcends the work we do at a given moment of our lives. In thinking about vocation, then, let us recall both for ourselves and for our children that discernment is first about how we choose to live in the world and only second about what kind of work we do.

I read this book as part of the Patheos Book Club. Go on over and check out the goodies they have over there.