Cluny, and Beata’s Birthday


Yesterday we visited the remains of the Abbey of Cluny, and Beata turned 5!

Cluny was the head of a network of a hundred monasteries in its heyday. We’ve visited several medieval sites by now, including Mont St. Michel, which had been an Abby also, and is once again! Yay for the Communauté de Jérusalem taking up residence and praying there recently! Also, we’ve seen several cathedrals and castles, as well as the Musée du Moyen Âge in Paris, which is housed in a former medieval abby (confusingly also named Cluny, not sure why) built on the ruins of Roman baths. (That is us with my grad school mentor’s wife and daughters, whom we bumped into in the gift shop at the Musée du Moyen Âge, followed by Notre Dame de Paris and Mont St. Michel)

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Saints Louis and Zelie Hold Open the Doors of Mercy

The marriage and family life of St. Thérèse of Lisieux’s parents invite us to practice mercy

This year in our archdiocesan Catholic schools, students have been making “Doors of Mercy” art projects. Behind brown construction-paper sets of cathedral doors, they have glued or drawn a picture of their own families. So when the door-flaps are opened, the family is revealed inside.

If we open wide the “Doors of Mercy” and look through them to see the ways we can let mercy flood in to our own marriages and our own families, what beautiful scenes of compassion, forgiveness, tenderness, presence, healing and encouragement are revealed? Celebrating the July 12 feast day of newly canonized Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux and her four sisters (they also had four little ones who died in infancy and early childhood), can help answer that question. Continue reading →

Get Touchy with your Spouse

Drawing closer physically ‘incarnates’ your love and can strengthen your marriage

Elizabeth Jordan was unhappy in her marriage. Her husband Tony was a jerk. They argued about money. They were emotionally distant. The love between them was almost dead. Elizabeth could, justly, complain long and bitterly about her husband.

What happened to transform their marriage so that they were helpful, loving and united again? Surprisingly, it was one party’s conversion. Elizabeth’s change of heart toward her husband changed her own behavior in the relationship. Together with her intense prayer support for him, this triggered the softening of his heart toward her and his own conversion to Christ.

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Courtship vs Dating

The term courtship may sound as old-fashioned as bustles and buggy-driving. It may call to mind a famous song about a certain Froggy and what he went a-doin’. But actually, the concept of courtship is experiencing a revival, with good reasons.

Reframing dating in terms of courtship can help parents set healthy boundaries on teen dating. Shifting from a “dating” to a “courtship” mindset can help single adults achieve greater happiness, too.

What’s the difference between dating and courtship?

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Marriage vs. Cohabitation

Ten reasons God’s plan for families is good news for everyone

Madeline and Matt Example have been together five years. Because of a choice they made, they are in a category of couples who are statistically happier, healthier and better-off financially than their neighbors, Caitlyn and Chris. They will stay healthier, live longer, accumulate more wealth and report higher levels of happiness and satisfaction in their relationship and in their whole lives. Their household is less likely to witness violence or abuse. Their 2-year-old daughter, Maggie, is in the safest, healthiest and happiest categories of kids. Because of her mom and dad’s choice, she is at the lowest risk of child poverty; she is likely to succeed in school and be a happy adult.

Caitlyn and Chris have also been together five years. But because they made a different choice, they are in a group that statistically reports lower levels of happiness. They are more likely to get sick, suffer from anxiety or depression, and will likely not live as long. Despite having similar jobs as their neighbors, Caitlyn and Chris have lower incomes and smaller savings. Sadly, abuse and violence is more likely in their household, between them and against their 3-year- old, Cooper. Compared with Maggie, Cooper is at a much greater danger of child poverty and academic problems.

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Lent and Easter in the Domestic Church

“God bless you and keep you,” my husband says, tracing the sign of the cross on our wiggly daughters’ foreheads. After our family finishes our night prayer in the living room, and the squabble discussion about whose turn it is to blow out the candle on the family altar is peaceably resolved, each of our girls receives her blessing. “God bless you and keep you,” I also pray for each of them, marking them with the sign of the cross as well. This pairs well with a bedtime hug.

This simple daily practice is one way that we try to live out our family’s vocation to be a domestic church. Through baptism and the sacrament of matrimony, Christian families live their daily life “in the Lord.” Just like the universal church, the Holy Spirit forms the Christian family into a communion of persons, a communion of life and love. Jesus is present in their midst and works in and through them. Continue reading →

Synod on the Family

Pope Francis opens the Synod on the Family

Here is the English translation of the Final Report of the Synod on the Family from October of 2015!

And here is an excellent presentation on the same by Dr. John Grabowski.

My own Prezi slideshow from my talk on the Synods on the Family is here. I gave this talk to the UW Newman Center in November of 2015, and a slightly edited version to Legatus of Portland (January 5, 2016) and Legatus of Seattle (January 6, 2016).



Christmas and January in the Domestic Church

Christmas lasts until Jan. 10 this year.

Though the stores have switched their displays from Christmas décor to weight-loss accessories and Super Bowl gear, if you visit any Catholic Church you will encounter smells like pine, balsam and incense. You will see Christmas trees sparkling with lights and sanctuaries lush with velvety poinsettias. You will hear Christmas songs sung at Mass. And you’ll hear the story of the Nativity over and over again. It is as if we need time to let the grace of Christmas soak in.

By late December, however, our consumer culture is sick of Christmas. It has been celebrating it since November with a glut of holiday products and treats, a frenzy of seasonal activities, and lots of shopping. But the church has been waiting for the Lord through the holy season of Advent with silence, prayer and penance. Now that he is here, the church is ready to revel in Christmas with all her senses!

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All Saints: Married, Widowed, and Divorced

November is the perfect month to call attention to happily married saints, as well as to men and women who stand out as shining examples of holiness after suffering the unhappiness of marriage’s end through death or divorce. The great celebrations of All Saints’ Day, All Souls’ Day and the solemnity of Christ the King make us mindful of our own deaths and the world’s end. Our hope and fulfillment is in Christ, our ultimate goal, whose mercy embraces and sustains us through the ups and downs of family life. He is near to the widowed and divorced as well.

In keeping with the upcoming Year of Mercy proclaimed by Pope Francis, may the mercy manifest in these saints’ lives inspire us to be generously merciful — especially with our spouses, our children and even with ex-husbands and -wives!

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