All posts tagged: family life

The Cruciform Shape of the Family

Embarking on the journey of marriage and family life is filled with many joyful moments but also with moments of suffering. This suffering is inherently relational, meaning that by entering into commitments such as marriage and parenthood, we open ourselves up to the possibility of being wounded by such commitment. For example, think of the newlyweds who ache with overwhelming love for one another, a mother who labors to meet her child, the infertile couple who longs to conceive, the parents who suffer with and for a sick child, or the elderly man who sits at his dying wife’s bedside after a lifetime shared together. As we can see, suffering takes a unique, relational shape in the context of marriage and family life. This shape reflects Christ’s suffering in the sense that he entered into relationship with mankind, therefore opening himself up to such relational wounds—wounds of love. When we gaze upon Christ crucified, we see not only the horrific suffering of his Passion but also a sign of hope in his Resurrection. However, it …

The God Who Had Strep Throat

This year, I spent Christmas Day caring for our son, who had come down with a dreadful case of strep throat on December 23rd. I watched as this rather minor affliction (at least in the grand scheme of human health) took away the energy of a child who normally has a single speed engine: lightning fast. Yet on Christmas night, he laid upon a couch, barely able to keep his eyes open. Although not the ideal Christmas for a family (we lacked the beautiful images of families bedecked in finery), our son’s sickness gave us an occasion to contemplate the strong God who revealed the depths of love by becoming one of the weak. When the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, he did not spurn the human condition. Instead, he took it up. He took upon himself the weakness of a world in which sickness and death are often an all-encompassing experience for us mere mortals. He shared in human suffering such that ever human sickness, every human death, now has its meaning …

Practicing Tenderness in the Family

In Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia, he includes the term ‘tenderness’ in his discussion on marriage and family life as something that must accompany love so that the two can mutually inform one another. He writes: Our teaching on marriage and the family cannot fail to be inspired and transformed by this message of love and tenderness; otherwise, it becomes nothing more than the defense of a dry and lifeless doctrine. (§59) Tenderness humanizes the daily disposition of love toward those around us because it sees in another or oneself a person on a journey. It not only sees their destination but also is there to brush the dirt off when they fall and to kiss their wounds. Apart from a notion of tenderness, love can often be influenced in ways that distort its authenticity, even ways that go unnoticed to the lover or beloved. Love can become a mere assumption that does not manifest itself, even in subtle dispositions. But authentic love in the family, informed by the practice of tenderness, can then …

The Folly of “Mine”

“Mine.” It’s a word that parents of young children hear a lot. And it’s a sentiment that parenthood slowly chisels out of you—that false sense of being able to lay claim to things to which we’re attached. Naptime, for example: naptime is “mine”—my oasis of peace while the children both sleep, God willing. Perhaps nothing has taught me more about the potency of expectation than the day-to-day suspense of whether naptime will create an opening in the day’s schedule, or not. As C.S. Lewis’ Screwtape Letters puts it so succinctly, it’s easy to fall prey to feeling cheated: Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. . . . Nothing throws him into a passion so easily as to find a tract of time which he reckoned on having at his own disposal unexpectedly taken from him. . . . You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own.’ Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours.”[1] …