Tag Archives: parents

Holy Authority

16 Nov

Image result for serving others“If you are a King, . . . save yourself.” As we celebrate the Solemnity of Christ the King this Sunday, we gain an important lesson in authority that we can apply to our families.

The scoffing onlookers (i.e., those who did not know Christ) represent the mistaken idea that authority is meant for the benefit of the one who possesses it. Christ teaches the opposite: True authority is given for the benefit of those served, while giving those in authority the opportunity to grow in virtues such as justice, mercy, and generosity.

In marriage and parenting, it can be easy to sit back and wait for others to earn our service or respect, but that is a self-serving attitude and a misuse of authority. Christ calls us to something greater and more fulfilling. Respect is gained when it is given. Joy is gained when service is offered.

For practical applications of other-centered authority and love, click here.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

 

Music to Mom’s Ears

6 Oct

grateful-kids“Thanks, Mom!” Few things are more pleasing to a parent’s ears than hearing sincere gratitude pour forth from the lips of a child. While it probably does not happen as often as it should, it is heartwarming when it does.

In this Sunday’s Gospel, we hear the familiar story of the grateful leper who returns to give thanks to Jesus who heals him. In the busyness of our families, it is easy to overlook the importance of thanking God for His many blessings. Gratitude is the beautiful fabric that weaves the blanket of love that fills the family with joy.

Take time in prayer to reflect and then share with the respective loved ones or friends:

  • What three things are you most grateful for in your spouse?
  • In your children?
  • In your in-laws?
  • In your employer?
  • In your parish priest?
  • In yourself?
  • In your circle of friends?

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Discipline = Love

19 Aug

Do your children ever give you grief because you love them enough to discipline them? Even though they may not agree or understand, we know we owe them the gift of discipline.  And yet, we all know that it is sometimes easier to let behaviors slide because we know that our disciplinary efforts will take time and effort.

Our experience of parental discipline helps us to understand how God our Father treats all of His children. We hear in this Sunday’s second reading, “For whom the Lord loves He disciplines.” God’s love for His children is constant and never tiring.  If we want to parent like God, we must be constant in our loving discipline for the sake of our children’s growth.

This week, let us pray for the grace to be constant in discipline and, when we do discipline our children, may we act out of kindness and reassure them that they are loved.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Dignity of Dads

17 Jun

fffHow do our children experience the tangible love of God? Pope Francis reminds us in Amoris Laetitia of the importance and dignity of being a parent when he said, “The love of parents is the means by which God our Father shows His own love.”

Aside from the obvious mission of participating with God in the creation of life, each parent has a daily mission to make God’s love concrete by the way they love their children. Spending quality time, providing food and shelter, teaching virtue and morals, showing affection, offering forgiveness, and even using proper discipline are all ways children grow into the experience of God’s love.

As we celebrate Father’s Day, take stock of the qualities your dad or husband has that reflect God the Father, and acknowledge the noble mission of fatherhood. Pray for all dads, and take the time to affirm the great qualities you see. In this current culture, dads need all the encouragement they can get. Especially in this Year of Mercy, remember that no earthly dad is perfect.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Everlasting Impact

16 Feb

family prayingHave you ever wondered about the impact your family can make on history? Our family’s potential for influencing the future is limitless. It is easy to get caught up in the monotony of everyday life, but the truth is that small, daily decisions can greatly affect the course of history.

In this week’s reading from Genesis, God takes Abram and challenges him to lift his gaze to the heavens and see the stars. God’s promise to Abram is that his children will be as numerous as the stars in the sky. Abram had the grace to look beyond the monotony of his current struggles, open himself to God’s way of doing things, and commit to trusting God with the future of his existence. That trust changed history.

Abram’s reward for his trust in God was not merely the accumulation of material wealth, but even more the legacy of generations of faith. We have that same potential to affect the world. In America, we think in terms of leaving an inheritance to our children. That is not a bad thing, but it is far greater to leave an inheritance of faith that can be passed along for generations.

Every time we bring our children to Mass, say night prayers with them, give them a blessing before they head off to school in the morning, or even explain to them about why we passionately dedicate our time and resources to serving those in need, we make a deposit in their bank of faith that they in turn will pass on to their own children someday.

Intentional decisions made today bear fruit tomorrow.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Virtuous Sex

14 Jul

One of the common objections we hear to using Natural Family Planning (“NFP”) is, “I want to be able to have sex whenever I want to, and the birth control pill allows me to do that.”

The desire to be “one-flesh” with one’s spouse is understandable and even noble. In fact, God has attached the greatest of pleasure to sexual union because He wants married couples to engage in this most intimate of conversations. It may sound scandalous, but God truly desires that husbands and wives make love, and it brings Him great joy when they do so, provided their coming together is serving to bring them closer together and not driving them apart.

Given a choice, my four-year old daughter Maggie would have ice cream for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Most reasonable parents would never in a million years let their children have ice cream as their main food source. While Libby and I are not perfect parents by any stretch of the imagination, we are “reasonable parents” in this area. Maggie eats foods other than ice cream much to her disappointment. I hope she will thank us later. Everyone agrees that eating whatever you want and whenever you want will not make you happy in the long run.  Ice cream can be a most enjoyable dessert on the appropriate occasion. It takes discipline to discover the right time and place to enjoy this delicious treat.

Just as ice cream should be enjoyed at the right times and for its intended purpose, so should the sexual union of husband and wife. Sexual union is not intended to be an “on demand” feature of the married relationship. Unfortunately, our culture has developed an “on demand” mentality for all sorts of things: music on Spotify, movies on Netflix, television shows on the DVR, and Google with information.  The pervasive “on demand” thread of the culture can penetrate the fabric of the married relationship. Contraception fosters the “on demand” mindset because its underlying assumption is that “sex is just another activity that my wife and I do, and therefore, we should be able to do it whenever we want.”

Much like my daughter, Maggie, is being shortsighted when she wants ice cream at every meal, “on demand” sex is not good for the health of a marriage. The truth is that sex is not just another activity, but it is the most intimate of conversations that involves the entirety of the spouses; it is a total gift of self. An “on demand” attitude reduces the meaning of sex to self-gratification.

NFP fosters the necessary virtues that help couples realize the true gift of the marital embrace. The fostering of virtue is the fourth reason why St. John Paul II believed that NFP is different from contraception.  With NFP, the couple has the opportunity each month through conversation with God and each other to ask the question, “Is this the right time to come together?” NFP allows the couple to know the woman’s fertility, and therefore, if the couple has discerned that it is not the right time to have a child, then they abstain from the sexual union during the fertile time. If they have discerned that it may be the right time to bring a child into the world, then they come together during the fertile time.

NFP maintains the proper respect for the dignity of the spouse because it allows the couple to maintain the discipline of coming together when the couple has mutually agreed  to do so. In other words, sometimes the couple has to say “no.” Contrary to pop culture’s belief, saying “no” is possible, and even good under some circumstances, as it communicates to the spouse, “You are worth waiting for!”

I’m certainly not saying that couples should limit their sexual union unnecessarily, but NFP does open the couple to the possibility of saying “no” for the good of the other.  JPII was convinced that NFP helps build the character of the couple and in particular helps spouses grow in self-mastery.  Why was self-mastery so important to him?

Because self-mastery leads to greater freedom! In the eyes of the world, freedom is doing whatever you want whenever you want, but true freedom lies in the ability to do what is good. When a husband learns to temper his desires for sexual union because his wife is unable to come together, JPII would say he grows in possession of himself. Only when one possesses himself can he make a true gift of himself out of love.

Think about it in these terms: I can only give something I possess; I can’t give what I don’t have. NFP teaches me as a husband to always think and do what is best for my wife. It makes me a better man. If I am unable to say no to a sexual urge, then am I truly a free man? Only slaves and addicts are unable to say no.

And if I am unable to say no, what does my “yes” really mean?

Contraception leads a couple down the road of slavery and addiction where they are not free to focus on what is good for the other. Instead, it builds a culture of instant gratification within the relationship.

Our culture rightly puts a high premium on freedom, but we must be careful as to how we define this important word. Fortunately, we do not have to settle for a counterfeit version of freedom. JPII invites married couples to embrace the fullness of genuine freedom offered by NFP—a freedom expressed in mutual, sacrificial love that seeks the true good of our spouse.

Guest columnist Brad DuPont is a consultant for the Office of Marriage and Family Life for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas. He credits Dr. John Grabowski’s talk at the 2014 Theology of the Body Congress, “Something Old, Something New: Tradition and Development of Doctrine in the Theology of the Body’s Teaching on Marriage” for inspiring this series of articles.

Love in the Time of Easter

8 Apr

Image result for easter lilyRecently during Mass, Maggie, my four-year-old daughter, grabbed my hand while we were listening to the homily. I thought she just wanted to hold my hand, but I was wrong. She gave my hand to my wife Libby, so we could hold hands during the homily. It deepened my realization that little ones desperately want their parents not only to be together, but to be “IN LOVE.” It is sometimes easy to forget that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is our dedicated effort to grow in our marriage no matter how good or not so good it already is. No matter where we are or have been in our marriages, the natural instinct of my daughter, Magdalene, can give us deep insight into the supernatural reality of this Easter Season. Let’s explore.

What is it about an “in love” married couple that gives so much security to our little ones? I think it has something to do with the fact that a married couple is intended to be the very reflection and concrete experience of the love and goodness of God. Every married couple is intended to be a window into the life and love of the Holy Trinity. If the reflection that the couple is intended to convey is somehow cloudy, then the very stability that confidence in God’s existence offers is also clouded. Children want to believe that they come from love. If a child knows that their existence is the fruit of love, then they are confident that they exist for a reason.

We all know that children are created out of the love of God and that there is a reason for the creation of every child, but we as parents sometimes forget that we are supposed to be the living and tangible reminder every day to that reality by the way we love one another. It is not just about participating with God in the child’s creation, and then focusing on the child and figuring that our spouse is old enough and can take care of their own needs. When we intentionally choose to nurture the marriage relationship, we create the culture for a child to grow in a stable environment. If we were going to plant a garden, we would not be very successful if we did not tend to the soil. Passionate marriages are the optimal soil for the seed of children to flourish!

Yes, I said “passionate.” Some are scandalized by that word, so let me explain why I purposely chose it. When I say “passionate,” I am not talking about “an urgency to make love.” That is how the world defines it, and it is important to reclaim the language. When I say “passion,” I am talking about the type of passion that we celebrated on Good Friday. And no, I am not saying that marriage is torture. I am saying that the total self-abandonment of Christ on the Cross is the same self-abandonment that a married couple is called to have toward one another. The grace that was won on Calvary and offered through the Resurrection is made present to and through the Sacrament of Matrimony. John Paul II said it best when he said that married couples are a “permanent reminder to the Church of what Christ did on the Cross” (Familiaris Consortio).

The mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection is present in every home–what a wonderful plan in the wisdom of God! He knew that the Blessed Sacrament would not be able to make it into every home, but through Baptism and Matrimony, His sacramental presence has the potential to reach every house and neighborhood.

Our marriages are personal but not private. When we embrace the call to love one another as Christ loved the Church, we participate in the sanctification of the world. We can sometimes dismiss evangelization as a good idea that some people should do out there somewhere, or we wait around for our parish priest to form an evangelization committee.

The reality is that when we love our spouse passionately, we evangelize our children and our communities, and we participate in the redemption of the whole world. I invite every married man and woman, most especially myself, to step up the level of love in our relationship this Easter season. The grace is abundant, and when we take the time to prioritize our marriage, we are entering deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. If we enter into this mystery more deeply this Easter season, we will experience the power of Pentecost in a tangible way, and we will be a beacon of light in this world struggles to see the path to authentic happiness.