Dr. Ray: A Clear Voice in Our Weary World

St. John Paul II once said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” Wow, nothing could be further from the truth today. The foundation of our spiritual journey and wellbeing is deeply rooted in, you guessed it…family life. But, there is a problem. The culture has no value for the family. In many cases, it actively works against it seeking to undermine the family at every turn. Whether we realize it or not, we are indeed in a spiritual battle. The most vulnerable – do not see it.

We were blessed to have an opportunity to sit down with Dr. Ray Guarendi (“Dr. Ray“), a leading Catholic voice in offering solutions that protect the family against an aggressive and unfriendly culture. He is a bright light in our world and we are fortunate to learn from his knowledge and wisdom today. Off we go…

Bros: Dr. Ray, thank you for joining us. So, families today are under siege with a great deal of noise and distraction. What steps can Catholics take to foster Christ-centered homes?

RG: First step – protect your child’s innocence. Never before in Christian history have children been forced to grow up so fast. By that I don’t mean “mature”, I mean worldliness. So therefore, whatever a parent can do to go against the cultural pace of mis-shaping a child – do it! This will automatically put the parent at odds with much of the culture. It may put them at odds with their family and people around them. For example, the average age of the smartphone is nine-years old – that is lunacy. However, if a parent holds out to age thirteen, they are in a minuscule minority, probably under 5% of children who do not have smartphones. But again, age thirteen is still lunacy! So, the point is, many decisions that parents now make are going to be very countercultural if their main goal is to raise a God-seeking child. If that is their overall parental aim, they are going to make many moves that the culture and even their own children will not understand.

Bros: Your stance on no cell phones for young children and adolescents seems like common sense. Why do you think this stance goes against the norm – even in many Catholic households?

RG: It is very hard to stand strong against a tsunami of opinions that are against you. Many people, parents in particular, guide their behavior by social norms. So, if in fact, society says that this is a good and healthy psychological thing – the first question you have to ask is, ‘who is saying that’? If the experts are saying that, you have to ask another question – ‘do the experts believe what you believe’? Is this an expert who says that a God-seeking child is the most important thing to wellbeing, or, is this an expert who is spouting a particular psychological theory?

So, parents have to be ever aware that the overwhelming push of opinion and in some respect, psychological threats effectively saying…if you don’t do this, you are short changing your children, they will become resentful, they will eventually turn away from everything you try to teach them…Parents are now parenting afraid. They are afraid of making a psychological mistake, miscalculating, not going with the cultural norms. The experts have done a lot to make parents afraid. Often times, the expert attitude is, don’t say we didn’t warn you if you don’t do it this way. I tell parents routinely, you have to trust your own judgements. Make sure that what you are doing is what you want to teach not what the culture thinks is valuable. I have always said this, if my kids go astray as young adults, I want to be able to say it’s because they went through me and not because I stepped aside.

Bros: What is your message to luke warm Catholics who may be disillusioned by the Church, the Vatican or the sexual abuse scandals?

RG: Let me draw this parallel. If a 15 year old child walks up to a parent and says, Mom I want to let you know that I pretty much agree with everything you are trying to teach me, I’d say about 90% of it. As long as I agree with it, I will follow it. However, there is 10% that I don’t agree with and I decide what 10% that is. But Mom, you should be really pleased because 90% obedience is very very high, much higher than most of my friends.

I then ask the parent – is that an obedient teenager? And most say, no it is not. Why not? Because the child decides what he is going to obey, even if it’s only 10% – it’s his decision. He is the authority.

The parallel can be drawn to Catholics who decide, as long as I agree with the church – I will follow her. But if I don’t agree, I decide how I am going to follow her. At that point, I become the authority, not the Church.

If am convinced that there is a God, and that Jesus Christ is God, and that Christ established an authority to speak in His name after He left the earth physically, then I must say that I have to follow what that authority says because they know better, whether I agree or whether I don’t. When they say, do it this way and not that way, and that will result not only in a closer relationship with God but better psychological well adjustment (which is what the research says BTW), then it is in my best interest to say I will obey 100% of the Church’s beliefs and teachings. Unfortunately, it is now a very small minority of self-proclaimed Catholics who do that.

Bros: What aspect of the Catholic faith do you hold most dear?

RG: I asked a priest once, what for you is the most powerful evidence that the Catholic Church is true? He said, the system works! I asked, what system?…The liturgical system, the hierarchical system, which system? He said, the moral system! The Church has teachings that the culture says are foolish, are unenlightened, are throwbacks, are hateful. But they work. Research has said over and over, this is the better way to live. More contentment, more psychological peace, longer lives, better physical health. So in every way, the Church is my parent. The Church says to me, this is the best way to do it, and the reason she is right is because…CHRIST SAID SO! If the Church were just some organization that had a whole bunch of ideas on how to live then she could be as easily wrong as anybody else. But if she is protected by Christ and that is what He promised, then her words are His. And for me as a psychologist, I recognize that the further Catholics drift from the way the Church says to do it, the more trouble they bring into their lives.

Bros: What has been the most rewarding book you have written to date?

RG: For parents, it is called Discipline that Lasts a Lifetime. It is 100 of the most common discipline questions that I get asked for ages 2-18. It is very much geared towards a parents confidence, peace of mind and authority. To help them stand strong against a culture that is no longer on their side. The book that is probably the most powerful for adults would be a book called, Thinking Like Jesus – The Psychology of Faithful Disciple. It is a lot of ideas that work well in getting along better with others and being more content in your own life. It is my wife’s personal favorite.

Bros: Final question – Being an author and radio host, do you have a favorite author, book and radio host?

RG: Peter Kreeft! Dr. Peter Kreeft. He is a modern C.S. Lewis. He is brilliant. He is a brilliant easily understandable author. He has written something like sixty books and all of their are so faith filled and practical. I also like the book Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, again authored by Peter Kreeft and a priest named Fr. Ron Tacelli. It is a very logical presentation…How do we know that the Catholic Church is who she says she is? How do we know Christ is who He says He was? How do we know the Bible can be trusted? How do we know there are miracles? And they approach this from a very logical – reasoning perspective. I dramatically appreciate that book.

My favorite radio host; I’m going to be reluctant to say it because I work with so many of them. I think Ray Arroyo is a special talent, he is very good interviewer and he is incredibly knowledgeable. My dearest friend Al Kresta is one of the most well read radio hosts. David Anders, very very intelligent – thoughtful man. Teresa Tomeo is a skilled interviewer.

There are just so many talented Catholic people and we’re glad we got em’!

Dr. Ray Guarendi is a Catholic father of ten, clinical psychologist, author, professional speaker, and national radio & television host. His radio show, “The Dr. Is In” can be heard on over 440 stations and SiriusXM® channel 130. His EWTN television series, “Living Right With Dr. Ray” is aired in 140 countries. Dr. Ray has given over 3,000 talks on various topics including parenting, marriage, family and the Catholic faith. He captivates audiences with his compelling humor-laced presentations providing practical advice and proven techniques. You can visit Dr. Ray at https://www.drray.com/.

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