Posted in Book Lovers Community, Practicing Paideia

Raising Chaste Catholic Men

“The sexual sins are the sins of our day. There is no denying it, and there is no denying that our men and boys struggle mightily to remain chaste and retain their purity in a world designed to incite lust and drag them down to the dark pit of hell. Dramatic? Nope, it’s just reality. Sin is real, hell is real, the temptation surrounding our sons is real.” –Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice Mom to Mom

Lelia Miller, author of Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice Mom to Mom, is a blogger, mom to eight children (several of whom are grown and married), grandma, and devout Roman Catholic. This critically important book is the result of research, study, spiritual mentoring and tremendous personal experience. Lelia writes with great integrity, humility, and passion. While she thanks God that her oldest boys have been “success stories” in this department, she is still in the trenches of motherhood. Leila carefully and humbly reminds us that we are called to be obedient in our vocation of motherhood, that we can have essential influence over our children’s choices, but that ultimately, our children are independent souls with free will. Our successes and failures of motherhood are not perfectly reflected in the choices that our children make. For this reason, she does not offer this book as an “I was successful, so do it my way.” She offers, instead, a well-researched and cogent exposition on Christian moral teaching.

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Lelia is unapologetically Catholic and weaves that throughout her writing, but this book really can be read by any Christian mother who desires sound philosophy, practical advice, and solid Christian theology in the area of sexual morality. This book can do much for evangelization, and it is crystal clear on why the Roman Catholic Church has so much to say on issues of sexuality, but any Christian mother could read the truths within without having to ascribe them to the Catholic Church specifically.

This book is very high-impact. Leila does not mince words, she defends the key principles with scripture and church teaching, and she includes interviews with teen and twenty-something young men that are very insightful. Best of all, the book reads like a coffee date. I read Raising Chaste Catholic Men: Practical Advice Mom to Mom over five or six early mornings. I made a mug of coffee, grabbed my favorite highlighter, nestled myself into my chair, and “had coffee” with this delightful and helpful veteran mom.

“If I had you in front of me now, if you had gathered up your belongings to head home after our mom-to-mom talk at my kitchen table, I would grab you and put my hands on your shoulders, look you straight in the eye, and tell you the following from my heart: Talk to your sons. Keep the lines of communication open, always. Keep your sense of humor no matter what. Never compromise your Catholic Faith, but always live it out. Let your children be able to say of you, ‘Her faith and her life were never separate.’ Speaking in terms of virtues, not ‘values.’ If you are married, keep your marriage strong. Be a witness for chastity and for marriage in a thirsting, hurting world that needs to see it. In doing so, you will be a beacon for many weary souls, including your own children.”

In the very beginning of the book, Lelia explains what the book is and what it is not:

-Not a general parenting book.
-Not a book about teaching manners or social graces
-Not a book about raising gentlemen
-Not a book about Catholic teaching 101
-Not a book about raising daughters in a pornified culture
-Not a book that represents, denies, or usurps the critical role of a father in the life of boys
-Not exhaustive on the subject
-Not new ideas or revelations
-Not a personal statement of success
-Not a guarantee against failures by Lelia or her sons
-Not scholarly work

What this book is: a mom-to-mom conversation about the very practical and very real things that we can do to help our sons understand their sexuality in the right ways, at the right times, and how God desires them to protect and preserve their chastity and purity. And, it does that. Beautifully.

“It is imperative that you not despair for lack of a perfect situation (remember that discouragement is from the devil, never from Christ), but answer the call to personal holiness, wisdom, and knowledge; take every opportunity to make yourself an amateur expert on the teachings of human sexuality, on the vision of the Church, and on the design of God’s creation. Be sure to enlist others for help.”

In this book, Lelia covers the ages and stages of sexual development, awareness, and right understanding of how to help our sons navigate those. It defends the need to preserve the “latency period”, or what St. John Paul II called the “years of innocence” which is about age 5 to puberty. It deals with how to answer questions with age-appropriate responses. It explores Satan’s favorite attacks on our culture through gay marriage, pornograpahy, masterbation, and inappropriate understanding of the role of sex inside of marriage. This book hits every hot button issue and responds to it with scripture and beautiful church teaching.

Instead of feeling intimidated by these issues, Lelia left me feeling inspired and empowered. She navigates these territories like a well-traveled tour guide. She points out the common stumbling blocks and shares tried and tested Christian wisdom that we can adopt for our own. My oldest is nine. I know that many school children his age are much less innocent than he is. I have been worried about when and how to broach some of these issues. Leila references St. John Paul II and the robust papal encyclical The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality, and gave me crystal clear direction on how to proceed. I am anxious no more.

“I ask you, instead, to be revolutionaries, to swim against the tide; yes, I am asking you to rebel against this culture that sees everything as temporary and that ultimately believes that you are incapable of responsibility, that you are incapable of true love. I have confidence in you and I pray for you. Have the courage to swim against the tide. Have the courage to be happy!” – Pope Francis, World Youth Day 2013

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