Thursday, November 04, 2004

Of St. Charles Borromeo and Spanking

I used to work for a company with corporate headquarters in Milan, Italy. Thus several times I was called to Italy on business. On my first trip I had some free time on my first afternoon in Milan. I took the bus to the Duomo (the Cathedral). It was the largest church I had ever seen (in fact I believe it is one of the largest in Europe). I believe it was either started or finished (or both) by St. Charles Borromeo. In any case, I entered the Cathedral, prayed looked around and found my way to a staircase on the far side of the front of the Church. The staircase led down to a kind of small museum. A man was collecting an entrance fee equivalent to about 40 cents US currency. He didn't speak English and I knew no Italian, so we just smiled at each other. In these small rooms were many chalices, vestments, monstronses, etc. At the far end there was a chapel whose entrance was blocked by a wall of glass. On the altar was a life-size statue of a man - a bishop lying in state. The face of the statue was silver, but the hand was flesh-tone. As I gazed at the statue, I commented inwardly that the sculptor was very skilled. The hand looked as real as my own.

And in fact the Sculptor is the most skilled - as you probably have discerned by now, the 'statue' was in fact the incorrupt body of St. Charles Borromeo.


The subject of spanking came up in conversation this morning after Mass. The Curley's are firm believers in spanking - with certain ages and conditions.

But my purpose is not to discourse on this so much as the finer points of spanking: Hand or Rod?

In practical terms I find the hand is better. I know how hard I am striking if I use my hand - hard enough to hurt, as in sting - but not hard enough to hurt, as in damage.

Some people however say that a rod or belt or some other instrument is better to use because the child should be afraid of the rod and not the parent. Further, they say that the discipline instrument should be separate from the parent.

Personally, I want the hand that hugs to be the hand that spanks. If the child is truly afraid of the parent, then there may be something else amiss (or the spankings are too hard).

Not that there is a dogmatic theology to spanking, but I want my children to know that punishment is part of love. God punishes those he loves - in order for them to turn back to Him. Certainly God uses other "instruments" to do His work at times. However this nuance is lost on a simple child. Spanking (and punishing in general) is the worst and most difficult part of being a father (that I have experienced so far) - however - and I have told my children this right before the spanking is administered - it is also a sign and act of love.

From the small holding in Bethune ....

Oremus pro invicem!

1 comment:

alicia said...

On spanking - I too prefer the hand because of the control. In catching babies and delivering placentas, I also prefer to use my hand over instruments - because there is that direct connection and it is nearly impossible to use too much force without damaging my own hand.