I would like offer gratitude and love for all our priests, especially our parish priests, and I honor with deep sorrow the martyrdom of Fr. Jacques Hamel yesterday, on the feast of St. Joachim and Anne, in St. Étienne-du-Rouvray, in Normandy, France. This priest was described as grandfatherly, and he died on the feast of Jesus’ own grandfather and grandmother.
I gave two talks this weekend for the awesome Faith on Fire Catholic family conference; for the kids and youth I gave a vocation talk we called “Your Amazing Future: Preparing Yourself for Your Own Happily Ever After.” For the women, I gave a talk called “Women of Mercy: The Dignity and Vocation of Women and the Year of Mercy.”
I’ve had the goal of traveling to France with my family to France for six years, since completing my doctorate. My dissertation featured St. Therese of Lisieux, and I wanted to take the trip as a way to celebrate its completion, to visit St. Therese’s sites, and to share my love of the country with my family.
So much about France sparks joy for me: its rich spiritual and cultural heritage, its lovely language, and its tasty food. Jesus and the Blessed Virgin Mary have appeared there, numerous saints have walked its soil, and the Catholic faithful have raised lacy cathedrals, sung sublime music, and lavished works of love and mercy in that country, creating an Catholic culture that has proved enduring. Continue reading →
We were packed and ready to go to Paris before midnight on the eve of our departure! This was a huge win for Nathan and I, as historically, we’ve been up well into the wee hours packing our family up for a trip. It’s quite possible that in the evenings leading up to departure I may have experienced massive anxiety symptoms, which I may have soothed by searching for and then giggling over Pride and Prejudice memes on the interwebs.
Fortunately, Nathan has a secret ninja skill: he is MasterPacker. Also, he just buckles right down to work and doesn’t scorn me if I fritter my time away by laughing myself to tears over P&P memes when I should be, for example, sealing our liquid toiletries in plastic baggies. Continue reading →
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)
This summer we traveled to France with our four daughters, ages 2, 4 turning 5, 10, and 12. I am carrying the prayer intentions many of you have entrusted to me in an envelope in my purse, which I bring to the shrines and sanctuaries we visit. I kneel or stand, pull it out and set it before the altar, statue, or relics, or simply hold it up, offering up prayer for all of you.
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 →
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.
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?
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.