All posts tagged: family

Marriage as Mission: The Implications of the Charism of Marriage

The role of the Holy Spirit in the nuptial union of a couple can be understood in light of the charism given to the couple by the Spirit. It is this gift that the couple is called to give back to the Church through participation in her mission. Grounded in the baptismal identity of all Christians, the charism of marriage implies that the baptismal vocation will be taken up in the nuptial and familial life of the couple. Practicing this form of participation in the mission of the Church includes the call to evangelize in real ways, concretely through the social doctrines of the Church. Thus, the charism of marriage should be considered in marriage formation as couples learn to foster their charism and discern its implications in their own lives. We can then consider: If marriage formation was approached as a fostering of charism, how might the identity and role of married persons and their families in the Church evolve? As the charism of marriage implies a mission in marriage, how might this new …

Joy and Parenting

There is a common sentiment, one which I shared as a single person, that the place where you live is simply a practical location to store food and clothing, sleep, charge your cell phone, and relax away from all the tasks and commitments of life. This was how I felt about my dorm room in college, a cinder block cube where I seldom worked and where I would certainly never have invited anyone for dinner. Until recently, I never actually owned a home, so many of the spots I dwelled in were temporary and shared. This did not negate the possibility of experiencing these places as a kind of home, but I lived more of my life away from the home than in it. It was not until I married and we started our family that I started to treat the place we lived as a place that meant something more than a cozy nook to eat and sleep in. The phrase “domestic Church” coined in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Second Vatican Council (Lumen Gentium, §11) establishes the home of Christian families as “the first school of Christian …

Embracing a Preferential Option for the Family

Ministry at the level of the parish is often an attempt to focus chaos and point that energy in the right direction. People and groups approach parish ministers (both clergy and lay pastoral ministers like me) with ideas, energy, financial backing, and credentials on a weekly—even daily—basis. The reality of focusing the energy and effort of the parish is tremendously gratifying yet bewilderingly difficult; it requires a deep friendship with Christ (who is the way, the truth, and the life) and a clear, prophetic vision for the reign he came to teach. Within the beautiful bedlam of parish ministry I have found it important to hold onto certain pastoral values in the midst of all the judgments and decisions about which directions to point energy (both mine and others) and asserting priorities ahead of other items which may very well be good too. One such value that is particularly helpful in focusing pastoral care at parishes is what I’ve come to call the “preferential option for families.” The wording preferential option is borrowed explicitly from …

“Amoris Laetitia”: An Invaluable Opportunity for Teachers of the Faith

“We love because he first loved us.” (1 Jn 4:19) On April 8, 2016, the Vatican published the English-language version of Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”): On Love in the Family. In the time period leading up to the much-anticipated release of Amoris Laetitia—effectively spanning the [Extraordinary] Synod of Bishops on the Family of October 2014 and the [Ordinary] Synod of Bishops on the Family of October 2015—all categories of the faithful, comprising the clergy and laity alike, offered speculation concerning what the document would entail. This is not to mention that news outlets, mainstream or otherwise, were quick to extend manifestations of pseudo-expertise addressing sentimental perceptions of what Pope Francis would say, or perhaps would not say, in terms of what the Catholic Church professes regarding God, marriage, and family life. Ultimately, in over 250 sprawling pages, Amoris Laetitia revealed that which various realms of the Church should have expected to receive from Pope Francis in the end: his defense, promotion, and embrace of God’s age-old plan for …

A Tale of Two Synods: What’s Become of Catholic Marriage and What Can We Do About It?

Hermeneutics has always been a challenge, even with something seemingly simple. Allow me an example. I was teaching catechism for three- to five-year-olds at our parish on Sunday, and I asked the kids to draw a picture of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt. Well, after five minutes my son brings up his uncontestably creative rendition. I could see Mary, Joseph, and Jesus, but there was a fourth figure I couldn’t make out. Aware that I look thoroughly nonplussed, my son enlightens me: “Papa, you see, that’s Pontius Pilate. He was flying their plane!” Thankfully, you didn’t come here tonight to hear me tell jokes. You’re here to hear a tale of two Synods: what’s happened to marriage and what we can do about it. It was the best of Synods, it was the worst of Synods, it was the synod of wisdom, it was the synod of foolishness, it was the episcopate of belief, it was the episcopate of incredulity, it was the papacy of Light, it was the papacy of Darkness . . …

Family, Careers, and Sexuality: Spiritual Trends in College Men of Faith

Where are the men? How do we get more men involved and engaged in our ministries? I hear these questions time and time again from people across the country in my travels as an educator, minister, and scholar. I hear them from every population: priests, nuns, brothers, pastors, lay ministers, catechists, parishioners, teachers, and coaches. I hear them in every context: parishes, churches, colleges, high schools, and parachurch organizations—even ministries focused specifically on men, from faith-sharing groups to retreats and conferences. Catholics and Protestants alike are struggling to get men (lay and religious) through the door and to keep them there. Everyone is looking for a silver bullet—a quick fix for a complex and enduring problem—only to be disappointed when an initiative or program that may have worked in another context does not work in their own, or when a program has a strong opening and then loses momentum. The truth is, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. Every context has its own sets of unique challenges and opportunities for engaging men in their faith. So …