The Politics of Family.

I’m a self-proclaimed political junkie – especially now that the presidential election is right (no pun intended) around the corner.  This election is certainly about the economy and foreign policy – but it really is about so much more.  This election is one of ideology.  We could talk for hours about the two conflicting ideologies at play here, but for purposes of this blog, there is no doubt that we find ourselves smack dab in the middle of a war on religion.  Not to mention a war on traditional family values.

So where does politics get involved.  That’s complicated and I question whether it’s not simply politics, but rather “power” that is truly the key here.  The powerful control the dialogue and the message.  There is no question that the leaders of our country today lack a respect for traditional family values that, as Catholics, we know is sacred to understanding and attempting to live God’s will in our lives.

Monsignor Moran, my Pastor growing up, had a homily he would give on the Feast of the Holy Family.  He told the story of a father who had made a puzzle for his little boy by tearing up a picture of the world.  The little boy put the puzzle back together very quickly and his father asked how he was able to finish the puzzle so fast.  The boy responded, “there was a picture of a family on the back of the puzzle and I knew that if I put the family back together the world would be ok too.”  So simple.  So powerful.  So true.

God Bless!

Marriage: What’s God got to do with it?

Contributed by Christine Burrows.

Last night Peter (husband) and I were flipping channels and landed on a sit-com called The New Normal.  We caught the last ten minutes of it which culminated in one of the lead characters (a male) proposing marriage to his (male) partner in a candlelit room while the surrogate mother carrying a child for them was hooked to a sonogram device – so that their baby could witness the engagement.

Before I comment further, let me say that watching this scene reminded me of a very real situation of a close college friend of mine. About eight years ago, her brother-in-law asked her husband to provide sperm so that he could become a father. The brother-in-law paid both an egg donor and a surrogate, and wanted to use his brother’s sperm so that he could make a child that was closely related to him through DNA. Since then, my friend’s brother-in-law has made four children, using his brother’s sperm and the sperm of his partner, donated eggs from different women, and rented wombs from other women.

Both of these situations – in TV Land and in the Real World – seem so far removed from what God had in mind for us in the sacrament of marriage. It saddens me to think of all the hoops people will jump through in their pursuit of the “right” to parenthood. It saddens me just as much when I think about how many other people are being used so that these men (but it could be anyone) can call themselves “married” and “parent”. Two thoughts on this:

  1. The gifts of our spouse and our children are truly gifts from God, and therefore holy. Holiness can’t be bought, designed, or manufactured. It has to be sought through relationship with God, and this requires submissiveness to God’s will. Homosexual partners who believe they want marriage can’t be fully submissive to God because their sexual union doesn’t have the capacity for life.
  2. When we forget about marriage and parenthood as reflections of God’s love, we think we can manipulate people and situations to earn titles and roles. While there may be love and good intentions at the heart of these pursuits, there is no submission to God’s will. And, I dare say, there’s no seeking holiness.

So that I don’t end on a soapbox, let me give a few shout-outs to some married holiness-seekers:

  • Let’s give it up to Sarah and Gary for submitting to God’s will to welcome another little Galvin to the world!
  • What about that McGonigal clan for generations of submission and holiness-seeking through marriage and family-building!
  • And to all that have answered the call to holiness through true, unselfish partnership in marriage, I pray for you because I know its sacrificial and difficult at times. Stay the course! It’s making God so happy and He’s got great things in store for you because you’ve answered His call.

Three Weddings, …


Three Weddings, a Funeral and a Banquet

Just over five weeks ago, I witnessed a small slice of Heaven when my third daughter was married at St. Matthew’s Catholic Church.  Three of my four daughters have now received the Sacrament of Marriage, and my wife Denise, our families and friends have all experienced three special insights into Heaven-the eternal banquet, the eternal wedding feast!  And my three daughter and their husbands now share in a special fraternity-millions of couples united with Christ in a covenantal marriage.


Today marks the 60 anniversary of my parents wedding.  Sadly, however, my mom passed away on September 22nd, just 12 days shy of this tremendous accomplishment.  But I believe that the glimpse of heaven she had on October 4, 1952 is now within her grasp-she has become part of that banquet.  And I am proud of her and my father for living out this sacrament for 60 years, through five children and all the responsibilities of their care and upbringing.

Denise and I have been married for over 33 years, have four children, three sons-in-law, and one fantastic grandchild.  We continue to marvel about all the blessings we have received these 33 years, blessings that far outweigh the occasional sorrows.  And we continue to believe that the daily grace we receive from the Sacrament of Marriage constantly nourishes our relationship with each other, with our family and friends, and with our faith.

My hope for this blog is that, coupled with the one-day retreats that we offer at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, and the continuing education for married couples planned for our parish, that every couple reaches and exceeds that milestone that my parents missed by only 12 days.  And that ultimately the brief snapshot of Heaven we received on our wedding day becomes a panoramic reality for us when we sit down at the heavenly banquet promised to us.

Peace to all of you!

Joe McGonigal

An introduction.

This blog has been a dream of mine for a long time and I am so thankful that the ideas that have been churning in my head for a couple of years finally have a home.  I guess I should begin with a basic introduction – and a brief explanation as to why this blog has such a special place in my heart.

Gary and I @ our reception – wow we look so young.

Gary and I have been married for just over 10 years (amazing that it’s been that long – the years sure do fly by).  We dated for 6 years before we got married so I guess that’s 16 years together.  We have three beautiful children, ages 6, 4 and almost 2.  I worked before we had the kids but after our oldest was born, my vocation changed.  This was actually kind of shock to me since I had always imagined myself as a working Mom.  Funny how a few seconds can change the path of your life forever.

Gary and I are cradle Catholics and although we both grew up in loving Catholic homes, we both acknowledge that we weren’t taught the nuts and bolts of our faith.  I don’t blame my parents and neither does Gary.  I think it has more to do with how things were taught, or rather, not taught back then.  As our family grew and as we spent more time trying to understand our faith – especially as it related to marriage and family, it was if we began to discover our Catholic faith for the first time.  Not that we didn’t understand the importance of marriage and family before, but (speaking for myself here) it was the “why” that meant so much to me, and helped me to appreciate my marriage for what it is – a sacrament.

10 years and three kids later.

Theology of the body has been a big part of my journey.  I feel like I have only scratched the surface of what this beautiful theology teaches us about our faith, and especially the sacrament of marriage.  I hope that this blog can be a place for all of us to grow in our understanding of this theology – which I believe can be nothing short of life changing.

So, let’s begin this journey.  Let’s grow in faith.  Let’s strengthen our marriages and our families.  There’s no time like the present to start a good thing.

God Bless!


A Few Thoughts about Temperament

My wife Nancy Gillespie and I have had the privilege of speaking at several of the Love Never Fails (now known as Love’s Sacred Embrace) retreats at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel on the subject of Temperament.   Nancy conducts a fun exercise based upon Myers-Briggs preference theory that gets people thinking about how they and their spouses are similar and different.  I then follow up with a rambling, disjointed rant that touches on temperament, offers some insight into our 37 year old marriage, and serves up a little food for thought about marital relationships.  The following thoughts are from my last talk in April 2012.

• According to Art and Laraine Bennett (The Temperament God Gave You), we like, hire and hang out with people like ourselves; we fall in love with people opposite to ourselves.

• Not only are we attracted by others who have different temperaments, but the attraction may represent a longing for completeness similar to the physical completeness that we seek in those of the opposite sex.

Couples who have opposite temperaments tend to have more disagreements but may make better decisions.

Couples with similar types may be more compatible but may lack the perspective necessary for dealing with their lives.

I believe most young people enter into marriage largely unaware of who they themselves are, and less so of whom they have married.

I could go on like this for awhile, but recommend instead that you read the book, which is available in the OLMC library, at the Holy Family Bookstore in Carmel, and on

Before closing, I wanted to share one point in the Bennett’s book that resonated with me.  I spent the first 50 years of my life essentially un-churched, and Nancy, a cradle Catholic, left my spiritual fate in the hands of The Holy Spirit, rather than trying to convert me herself.  This, I feel, was an act of both faith and love since, as an old hippie, I probably would have resisted her “encouragements” just for the sake of resisting.  And although I arrived very late at the party (perhaps “vineyard” would be a better term), I arrived.  Anyway, the book contains this  observation:  “We are called to help our spouses grow close to the Lord, not to grow perfect by ourselves.”   

In the end, it doesn’t really matter whether you and your spouse are complete opposites or cut from the same cloth.  What matters is that you find your way to God, together.  The rest will take care of itself.