It’s 2013, the Christmas decorations in our home are put away, our gifts are put into our personal closets, the mail isn’t full of Christmas cards anymore and tomorrow (January 2) I head back into the office. Although our culture tells us that Christmas is over – it is not. We are still in the 12 Days of Christmas until the Epiphany which we celebrate on January 6. So I wanted to take a moment and offer my personal reflection on the Holy Family.
As I listened to the readings throughout the Christmas Masses I thought about the sacrifices both Mary and Joseph had to endure. I would venture to guess that both Mary and Joseph had big plans before the Angel Gabriel visited. Maybe they wanted a big family, maybe a big house, maybe four donkeys or maybe Joseph wanted to open a carpentry business. Heck, maybe they both planned on not being celibate. But they both accepted the situation they were given and committed themselves to Jesus, God and their faith. Together, Mary and Joseph put all their desires aside, answered God’s call and raised Jesus. Their sacrifices (albeit a true blessing) is remarkable and a true example.
Can I be as Strong as Joseph?
In my office I have a little statue of St. Joseph. I got this several years ago when a priest encouraged me to learn more about Joseph and his role in the Holy Family. Joseph was a skilled craftsman who worked hard for his family while also making sure they were safe and protected.
At this past Sunday Mass our priest gave a powerful homily that covered many topics including the role of the father in the family. The father is to be a pillar of the family and a mentor to the children. All the stories I read that involve Joseph clearly describe him as a leader and a teacher. He always seemed to have put Mary and Jesus first above anything else he wanted. He may not be as popular as Mary or Jesus but I believe he is truly proud of the role he played in the family. I’m sure it’s not easy raising the son of God but I believe Joseph was man enough to handle such a task.
Mothers are Amazing
When my kids get hurt nobody can care for them better than my wife, Sarah. I try my bestto cuddle them but the moment Sarah enters the room our child will reach for her and suddenly the crying stops and our child feels better. Mothers are beautiful and amazing. It’s no wonder our Catholic faith honorsMary as she is truly an amazing women whose role was to raise and nurture her Child. Just like any son should, Jesus listened to his Mother Mary and did what she asked. Then, as Jesus got older Jesus took special care of Mary and ensured that she was taken care of after His death.
I Can Learn A Lot From My Kids
My kids are still young but I learn a lot from them. They teach me that it is fun to laugh out loud at the silliest things. They teach me that something so small can mean so much. They teach me that a hug and a kiss is the best. They teach me how to treat other people kindly. My kids ask me many questions throughout the day and they are very inquisitive but I too can learn from them. I believe the Holy Family did this quite well. Mary and Joseph had to teach Jesus all the tangibles such as tying his sandals, making his bed, carpentry and maybe “why the sky is blue”. But Mary and Joseph were not arrogant enough to think they always knew more than Jesus and Jesus wasn’t arrogant enough to think he could do it all on his own.
~Merry Christmas to your and your family
Two years ago my father-in-law gave me the book “Be a Man” by Fr. Larry Richards. This is one of my favorite books and I have read it multiple times. Fr. Richards explains that to “be a man” we are to live as the son of God, be strong, be faithful and be committed. Essentially, we need to “grow a pair” (sorry), man-up and have a strong backbone.
Be a Man who is Holy
Fr. Richards explains that one of the ways we are to “Be a Man” is to be a man who is Holy. Since my vocation is marriage I have to do everything in my possible will to make it so my wife and children get to Heaven. Not only do I have to be a strong example, a good teacher, a loving husband and father but I also need to put my family in situations that allow them to grow and practice their faith. Well, today I blew it.
Typically, our family goes to 8am Sunday Mass and my wife and I have a pretty good system for getting our three kids awake, fed, everyone showered, dressed and out the door. Normally, we have a relaxing drive to Mass and I enjoy that time to reflect on where we are in the liturgical calendar and the day’s readings. But this morning I was moving a bit slow. Although I got the kids fed I decided to make them a bigger breakfast than normal and allowed them to watch a little bit of TV so I could read an interesting article I came across online. Meanwhile, my wife is doing her due diligence in our typical Sunday morning routine. Although the article I read was very interesting it was way too long and now it is getting late. So I gasped when I saw the clock and ran the kids upstairs to get them dressed while proceeding to negotiate with them because I seemed to have selected clothing they all clearly disagreed with. So I left it to Sarah, my wife, to fix it so I can start to get ready. With less than 5 minutes before the start of Mass we jumped in the car and drove to Mass and walked in during the Gloria. We were late. But that is not exactly where I missed the mark. When we got to Mass my mind was not on the Mass and I assume that would be the same for my wife. It took us until after the homily to finally relax but I had no idea what just happened before. I didn’t listen to the readings and my mind was wandering. Then I sat there in guilt because I was not a man who allowed my family to get to Mass on time and with clear minds. This is not being a man who is Holy.
If I am to “Be a Man” who is to create the best situation for my family to practice and grow in their Catholic faith then I failed today. A strong man is someone who puts his whole family first and not himself. The article I read in the morning could have waited or I could have woken up 15 minutes earlier.
~Be a Man and God Bless.~
“And the greatest of these is love”. This was a verse from the second reading of our wedding and most likely it was the second verse from your wedding too. This verse comes from 1 Corinthians 13:13 when St. Paul explains that “Love never fails” and love is the greatest gift God gives us.
Recently, I came across a recent blog post by Fr. Robert Barron’s website, WordonFire.org titled “Sex, Love, and God: The Catholic Answer to Puritanism and Nietzcheanism”. Fr. Barron starts off describing the shift in sexual morality in today’s society indicating that it is clearly declining and begins referencing the Book of Genesis and that God created us to love and be loved. Think about it for a second. Think about all the people you love and those that love you. As humans it is engrained in our DNA to want to be loved and to love another. No gift in the world and no other feeling can top the feeling of love. So as I read Fr. Barron’s article I had to stop and reflect on how God’s gift of “love” is truly the greatest gift of all.
So how come love gets ignored in many sexual relationships? Fr. Barron explains it as “The goodness of sexual desire is designed, by its very nature, to become ingredient in a program of self-forgetting love and hence to become something rare and life enhancing. If you want to see what happens when this principle is ignored, take a long hard look at the hookup culture prevalent among many young — and not so young — people today. Sex as mere recreation, as contact sport, as a source only of superficial pleasure has produced armies of the desperately sad and anxious, many who have no idea that it is precisely their errant sexuality that has produced such deleterious effects in them. When sexual pleasure is drawn out of itself by the magnetic attraction of love, it is rescued from self-preoccupation.”
If we ignore the greatest gift given to us by God and only strive to “feel good” then we are truly missing out on something so wonderful that no one can describe. So I hope you enjoyed Fr. Barron’s article and I hope you stop for a moment and experience the chills or goose bumps of being loved and loving.
Yesterday was the Indiana Senate debate between Republican Richard Mourdock, Democrat Joe Donnelly and Libertarian Andrew Horning. The debate got national attention when it came to the topic of abortion. The candidates where asked about their views of abortion when there is rape and incest involved and Mourdock’s words got twisted and the media interpreted him saying God intended rape to happen. (You can read the story here. ) I believe this is not what Mourdock meant to say and I believe he meant that even in the worst circumstances the child was still created and is a creation of God.
But yesterday’s Indiana Senate debate got me thinking about the Pro-Life vs. Pro-Choice argument that has been going on for years. This topic creates a lot of arguments about freedom to choose to abort a pregnancy or not. But what about the physiological effects abortion has on so many women and relationships? Why don’t the politicians talk about that? Couldn’t the politicians use this topic to talk about improving families and marriage?
So, in yesterday’s debate what if one of the politicians responded with the something along the lines of –
“No, even in this horrible incident abortion is not acceptable because there is a life in the womb. But if I am elected I will put my focus on creating organizations that help these women and families. Abortion or no abortion if a woman is in this horrible situation the woman still has to deal with so much more psycholgically. We are putting so much focus on the ability to choose but not on educating society on the importance of families and waiting to have sex until marriage. How can we as a society live with ourselves knowing that we only care about the choice? So my stance is that abortion is illegal in all instances but I want to fix the root of the problem and improve our view of marriage and families. Sex is a wonderful gift given to us from God and it allows us to build our families in His image and likeness. We are in a society where being a family is not the norm. We are both in a society and a country that is in trouble because we are losing the meaning of family and marriage. Many counties and states within our country live with divorce rates above 50%, many teens believe it is acceptable to have sexual relations and our cultural is much more scandalous then ever before. The most ideal starting point to fix our country is in the homes where we can strengthen families. Not only do we have to watch over the present but we need to plant the seeds for the future and if we don’t make a dramatic revolution towards improving families and marriages then we will be doomed”
Why can’t politicians say something like this?
We are in the heat of the presidential election with just over 2 weeks to go until the election. Four years ago I was hurt that the Catholic vote went to President Obama – someone who was in favor of Pro-Choice and very clear on what he intends to do if elected. So, here we are, four years later and we as American Catholics have a chance to rewrite history and go into the voting booths knowing exactly what the Catholic church teaches about life and the protection of the unborn.
Over the past few months I have been proud to see the Catholic church speak louder than it did four years ago. From the USCCB to our local parishes I have heard a constant message – to know the Catholic church’s stance on the political issues. Over forty years ago our country created a liberal society which included a sexual revolution making sex more about “feeling good” rather than what God intended it to be. This revolution created the mindset that it was acceptable not to marry and to avoid having kids at the expense of satisfying oneself. We’ve had enough and as Catholics we want to make it clear that this needs to stop. It is our time to shine and help the pendulum swing in the direction that favors marriage and families.
While reflecting on today’s homily at Mass and the approaching presidential election I felt compelled to share with you the homily given by Fr. Adam Mauman at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel in Carmel, IN from last week, October 14. Fr. Adam titles this homily “A Rich Young Man and Poor Unborn Child” and explains that human life is sacred and that ultimately we will not be judged while at the polls but rather before the Lord while on our knees.
Listen to Fr. Adam’s homily.
[You’re getting the cliff note version of this story :-)]
It was May 2001 and Sarah was finishing up her finals for her second year of law school. I, on the other hand, was busy planning something special.
I was hoping for a warm and sunny Saturday but it was chilly and rainy so I had to revert to my Plan B. I called Sarah and told her I was going to stop by her apartment and was taking her out to a fancy brunch at the Hancock Building in Chicago. We dressed up and had a nice brunch looking out to the overcast skyline of Chicago. After brunch I informed Sarah that I had a day full of plans for us and as we left the Hancock there was a limo waiting for us. Because it was pouring rain we ran to the limo and I got soaked (Sarah had on a coat). As we got into the limo my plan so far was working brilliantly because I told Sarah that I had to take my shirt off because it was soaked. Then, Sarah looked at me and I had this T-Shirt on as I got on one knee:
and over 11 years the T-shirt still gets warn by me…often.
Today, as I got dressed for church, I needed a white T-shirt and pulled out my favorite one. So I thought about this $7 T-shirt and where Sarah and I are today. This T-shirt has a few holes, “bacon collar” and has gotten sewed back together several times. At times, and not thinking anything of it, I have left the house with this T-shirt on and Sarah would chuckle wondering if I ran into anyone else named “Sarah” at the store.
This T-shirt brings back a lot of wonderful memories. Each time I put it on I think of that May Saturday in 2001. The shirt is over 11 years old and looking back Sarah and I were young, in-love and ready to take on the next stage of our life – together. We had no clue what was in store for us but I gotta say that we are quite blessed. On that Sunday after we got engaged as Sarah and I left Mass we agreed that our faith will be the center of our marriage….and here we are.
Sarah, if you happen to read this blog can you please let me know what you did with all my other old t-shirts? I know all my high school and college shirts are somewhere….but I’m glad you kept this one in the closet.
The readings from this past Sunday , October 7, 2012 reflected on love, sexuality and marriage. These readings are essential teachings on sex and marriage for our Catholic faith. Our parish priest, Fr. Adam, gave a wonderful homily about how we live in a culture with TV shows like “Modern Family” and “The New Normal” and it is up to the parents and their community to teach our children what a family and marriage is meant to be.
Oftentimes I listen to Fr. Barron’s sermons too on his website, WordOnFire.org on Monday while in the car or at home. His sermon for this past Sunday is titled “Sexuality, Love and Marriage” and I wanted to share it with you. It’s a 15 minute sermon and if you have a smartphone you can listen to it while on the go.
Listen to the Sermon’s MP3
Some major points that Fr. Barron includes in this sermon are:
- Catholic are not against sex. It’s just the opposite.
- There is nothing dirty about sex.
- The physical pleasure of sex is our way into the scripture.
- Love is what God is.
- Everything in creation comes from love.
- There are three to get married and if the third is eliminated then the marriage will dissolve.
- Children are the fruit of all this.
I hope you enjoy listening to Fr. Barron’s sermon and when you are done with that you might find yourself getting deep into the valuable information he has on his website.