“Those are all symptoms of a much deeper problem,” Fr. Hoffman said of the toxins. “The key point is reverence and offering up a sacrifice. Whatever you make the most sacrifice for, that’s your god.”
Before joining Relevant Radio earlier this year, Fr. Hoffman was chaplain of Northridge Preparatory School in Niles, Ill. During his time at Northridge, Fr. Hoffman worked with students from various backgrounds, including some Muslims.
“The Catholic community definitely needs to work on reverence,” Fr. Hoffman said. “The Muslim community has grasped it. There’s something off here. For us as a Catholic family, as a Catholic church, it’s all about the Eucharist.”
Low birth rates and high divorce rates among Catholics are two signs the family as a whole does not have the right perspective of the sacrifice Jesus made on the cross, Fr. Hoffman said. The priest added, based on his experience, Muslims exhibited a greater degree of discipline and restraint, based on their religious beliefs.
He stressed that Jesus needs to be at the center of any Catholic household for children to grow up in a healthy, nurturing environment.
“Mom and Dad need to have a strong relationship as well; they need to really love each other,” Fr. Hoffman said. “The children have to know that. If your parents love each other, you’ll be happy.”
Marital strife – especially when it’s taking place in front of children – will harm youngsters as they go through adolescence.
Expanding on the notion of unconditional love, Fr. Hoffman said married couples need to adopt the 90-10 rule – give 90 percent and only expect 10 percent in return. As an antidote to any marital troubles that could erupt, he suggested parents spend two to four days each year alone, away from the kids, on a vacation or retreat, to talk about priorities and their relationship.
Continuing with the notion of reverence, Fr. Hoffman suggested the family make Sunday mornings a high priority.
“If you can, go to Mass together as a family; Sunday is holy day,” he said. “Make sure your children have something to give, and make a big deal out of it. Everyone should be dressing up because casual and reverence just don’t match.”
Fr. Hoffman also implored parents to recognize Friday as a day of penance by taking their children to confession.
Unlike a half-century ago, the dynamics at the dinner table have changed. Fr. Hoffman suggested a back-to-basics approach where TVs, computers, cell phones and all other electronic devices are shut off.
“All distractions should be removed from the dinner table,” Fr. Hoffman said. “The family should start and end their meal with a prayer. Mom should be served first, and every child should have a chore.”
Statistically, Fr. Hoffman said families that have dinners together and talk about daily happenings have been linked to decreases in divorces for married couples and increases in school grades for children.
As technology advances, children have a plethora of entertainment options. Whether it be movies, television, books or music, Fr. Hoffman suggested parents safeguard the entertainment their children consume until they reach age 18.
“Choose entertainment that inspires,” he said. “Have them think about the inspiring topics.”
With nearly every household wired to the Internet and many children possessing cell phones, Fr. Hoffman suggested parents take a practical approach. Computers should only be situated in public areas of the house, he said, so parents can carefully monitor what is being downloaded.
Fr. Hoffman stressed the importance of Eucharist and reverence – even in a fast-paced life. He implored participants to examine their priorities and not fall back on using busyness as an excuse.
“You can never have a relationship with God based on convenience,” he said. “The holy Eucharist is the driving force for all civilization.”