World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015. We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMF Catechesis Love is our Mission: The Family Fully Alive and its implications for our daily lives. We will follow the timing suggested by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia by exploring one theme each month leading up to the World Meeting.
Chapter Four: Daily Choices for Love
Rebecca Baehrend, Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth
Reading this chapter, I was struck by the emphasis on the importance of day-to-day interactions. Relationships with other people, whether in marriage, or friendship, always require a choice. Pope St. John Paul II talked about the gift of self, how each person is called to give their life away in a specific way. This beautiful idea is not about a one-time sacrifice, but an ongoing journey. Our relationships continue to grow as we grow; they are always in motion. A commitment for “always” is necessary, especially in marriage, but it is lived out in thousands of different choices every day.
Since I have never been married, reading this chapter (especially Pope Francis’ first quote in paragraph no. 60), reminds me of my relationships with my roommates and my siblings. Putting forth daily effort makes a huge difference. I’ve come to see that the little things (good or bad) add up over time. Do I grumble about little things that bother me or try to stay focused on the positive? When something is really bothering me, do I have the courage to charitably talk about it with the other person or do I just try to ignore it, silently growing more frustrated?
Pope Francis talks about our call to a “culture of encounter” and wants each of us to bring genuine joy to other people. Do I pay attention to what types of things might make that other person feel loved or appreciated?
I have a housemate whom I love dearly and we have very different personalities. I’m more naturally creative than she is, while she is more expressive and enthusiastic. Every so often, I play harmless little pranks on her, not because I do it naturally, but because I know it will make her feel loved. I get a lot of joy out of seeing her eyes light up at the most recent ridiculous thing I’ve done.
Commitment to one another in relationships is not just about sacrifice; it’s also about bringing out joy.
Regarding marriage, I think that Pope Francis’ words are beautiful when he says that “the husband has the task to make his wife more woman and the wife has the task to make her husband more man” (no. 60). It all comes back to daily choices for love. Husbands and wives are called to use their specific gifts and talents to help each other grow every day. Through these daily choices, spouses help each other become the saint that they are called to be.
What is one small thing I can do today to help my spouse, family member or friend become more of the person that they are called to be?
Pope Francis’s Apostolic Exhortation on the proclamation of the Gospel in today’s world, Evangelii Gaudium or “The Joy of the Gospel,” has many points that are relevant to the work of Marriage: Unique for a Reason. This series will explore some of these themes and apply Pope Francis’s words to the culture of marriage and family in the United States.
We Are All Missionary Disciples
“The new evangelization calls for personal involvement on the part of each of the baptized” (no. 120). Pope Francis includes everyone, young and old, in his call for missionary disciples. He reminds us that throughout the New Testament, those who encountered Jesus were changed and sent forth to others.
After being healed by Jesus in the Gospels, the former Gerasene demoniac wanted to stay with and follow Christ with the other disciples. Jesus “would not permit him but told him instead, ‘Go home to your family and announce to them all that the Lord in his pity has done for you’” (Mk 5:19). We, too, are sent home to proclaim the Gospel.
The family is the place we are first called to evangelize, and sometimes it can be the hardest. Why is this? Why does it sometimes seem more difficult to speak of what God has done in your life with your mom, dad, or sibling than with a relative stranger at a retreat? Why can it be harder to tell your own children what God’s relationship means to you than it is to tell children you teach at catechism class?
Perhaps it is because, in our families, we often assume that we know each other better than we do. We may have watched them grow up, or we have grown up under their watchful gaze, and so we assume that they have nothing new to tell us. Or, on the other hand, we are humbled because the people in our family know our faults and have seen our mistakes more than anyone else. Why would they believe what we say about God when they heard us yelling at our brother yesterday about the mess he left in the bathroom? We realize that we need to conform our lives to Christ in order to be credible witnesses.
This week, may we seek to be missionary disciples first within our own families. Then we will be even more empowered by the Spirit to, “Go out to all the world and tell the Good News” (Mk 16:15).Read More