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St. Thomas Aquinas
Catechetical Instructions

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  • THE FOURTH COMMANDMENT: "Honor thy father and thy mother, that thou mayest
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Now, because we owe our birth to our parents, we ought to honor them more

than any other superiors, because from such we receive only temporal

things: "He that feareth the Lord honoreth his parents, and will serve them

as his masters that brought him into the world. Honor thy father in work

and word and all patience, that a blessing may come upon thee from him."11

And in doing this you shall also honor thyself, because "the glory of a man

is from honor of his father, and a father without honor is the disgrace of

his son."12


Again, since we receive nourishment from our parents in our childhood, we

must support them in their old age: "Son, support the old age of thy

father, and grieve him not in his life. And if his understanding fail, have

patience with him; and despise him not when thou art in thy strength. . . .

Of what an evil fame is he that forsaketh his father! And he is cursed of

God that angereth his mother."13 For the humiliation of those who act

contrary to this, Cassiodorus relates how young storks, when the parents

have lost their feathers by approaching old age and are unable to find

suitable food, make the parent storks comfortable with their own feathers,

and bring back food for their worn-out bodies. Thus, by this affectionate

exchange the young ones repay the parents for what they received when they

were young."14


We must obey our parents, for they have instructed us. "Children, obey your

parents in all things."15 This excepts, of course, those things which are

contrary to God. St. Jerome says that the only loyalty in such cases is to

be cruel:16 "If any man hate not his father and mother . . . he cannot be

My disciple."17 This is to say that God is in the truest sense our Father:

"Is not He thy Father who hath possessed thee, and hath made thee, and

created thee?"18


11. Ecclus. iii. 10.


12. "Ibid.," 13.


13. "Ibid.," 14, 15, 18.


14. Epist., lib. II.


15. Col., iii. 20.


16. "Ad Heliod."


17. Luke, xiv. 26.


18. Deut., xxxii. 6.


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