1. A father must prevent his children from associating with bad company, or with ill-conducted servants, or with a master who does not give a good example.
2. He must remove from his house any male or female servant that may be a source of temptation to his daughters or sons. Virtuous parents do not admit into their house young female servants when their sons are grown up.
3. He should banish from his house all books that treat on obscene subjects, or on profane love, romances, and all similar works; such books are the ruin of innocent young persons. Videumaun tells us of a young man who was an example to all his fellow-citizens. He accidentally read an obscene book, and fell into such horrid crimes that he became the scandal of the entire people. His conduct was so scandalous that the magistrates were obliged to banish him from the city. Another young man, who had failed in his efforts to seduce a woman, put a book in her way that treated on love, and thus he made her lose her honor and her soul. A parent is still more strictly bound to remove the class of books that has now become so common, which, besides the other poison, contains also errors against faith or against the Church.
4. He is bound to remove from his house immodest pictures, particularly if they are obscene. Father Rho tells us that Cardinal Bellarmine went into a private gentleman s house, where he happened to see some immodest pictures; so he said to him: "My friend, I am come to entreat you for God s sake to do a work of charity in clothing the naked." The gentleman promised to do so; so the Cardinal pointed to the picture, saying- "There are the naked people I mean." Oh, how delighted is the devil when he sees in any house an immodest picture ! It is related in the life of Father John Baptist Vitelli that a troop of devils was once seen in the hall of a certain nobleman offering incense to an immodest picture that hung there, in return for the souls which they gained by it.
5. A parent should forbid his children to frequent masquerades or public dancing-houses, or to act a part in comedies. He should not allow his daughters to be taught by any strange man. Oh, how dangerous is it for young women to receive instructions from men! Instead of learning to read, they learn to commit mortal sins. A parent should get his daughters instructed by a woman, or by a little brother; I say little, for even in a brother, when he is grown up, there is some danger.
Parents must be very particular never to allow their sons and daughters to sleep in the same bed, and much less in the same bed with their father and mother. They should also take care not to permit their daughters to converse alone and familiarly with any man, though he be the first saint in the world. The saints in heaven only are incapable of falling; but the saints on earth are flesh like others, and if they do not avoid the occasions of sin, may become devils. Hence, a father will do well to recommend the most virtuous and steady of his daughters to let him know secretly whenever she sees any of her sisters keep up such familiarity, or when she sees any other disorder in the family. II. With regard to the advancement of piety.
from Preaching, by Saint Alphonsus