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Chapter Six: All Love Bears Fruit, The Celibate Life: An Encounter with Beauty

Posted Apr. 15, 2015 by DOM 1 comment

WMOF-MadelinesWorld Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.  We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMOF 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. The Archdiocese for Military Services has also written reflections. Here is a link to their reflection on Chapter 6.

The Celibate Life: An Encounter with Beauty
Madeline Watkins
Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

The beauty of a life of chastity is the answer to a culture that has normalized “hooking up,” sex before marriage and cohabitation.  Young adults have been inundated with the message that chastity and celibacy are outdated, unattainable, and even abnormal or unhealthy, but this is simply not true.

I want to focus on one of Pope Francis’s favorite words – “encounter” – as the remedy to this cultural problem. When we encounter authentic beauty, it strikes a chord deep within us, or as Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said, it “wounds” us (check out Benedict XVI’s 2009 Meeting with Artists for more about that). The world is in need of an encounter with Christ, the truly Beautiful One, who “fully reveals man to man himself and makes his supreme calling clear” (Gaudium et Spes, no. 22). The world needs Christians to show the joy and beauty of the Gospel, the true freedom found in following Christ and His teachings. This is the way to reach young people who accept the cultural norms without reflection—showing them concretely what the alternative is, and that it is better.

As the WMOF catechesis says, celibacy includes “not only priests and vowed religious, but all those who are chaste outside of marriage….” (no. 99). I had a profound encounter with people living this way through the Catholic student center on my college campus. The fruit of the love and life of the priests, sisters and lay students I met there was unmistakably good. Their joy was palpable, attractive and infectious. As the WMOF catechesis states, “the possibilities for life which young people find imaginable depend on the examples they see and the stories they hear” (no. 108). I am grateful to God for placing these witnesses in my life in my college years, for my encounter with them opened my eyes to the incredible vision of the human person that the Church gives us and invites us to live.

I think also of my life the past few years as a 20-something and the friendships I have been blessed to have, and I recognize with great gratitude how fruitful they have been through His grace. To have a group of friends who are intentionally trying to live virtuous lives as they discern their vocations, and who support one another through prayer and fellowship, is an incredible gift. Single young adults need this type of healthy community, “an alternative space” (no. 101). Weary of what the impoverished culture has offered us, my friends and I desire more in and from life: more depth, authentic beauty, love, joy and freedom, and this is what we have each found in Christ. Encouraging one another in our relationships with Christ helps us to walk with the Lord toward whatever vocations we may be called to down the road.

The experience of encounter is necessary for understanding something different from what we know. My encounters with those who are celibate in the family of God, be they religious or lay faithful, have encouraged me in my own journey to follow Christ more fully, and to pray for the grace to be a faithful witness to Christ and his Church through virtuous living. Celibacy is truly a beautiful way of life that demonstrates that the richness and depth of a life lived with Christ is what we all desire and are made for.

 

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All Love Bears Fruit: World Meeting of Families Catechesis Chapter Six

Posted Apr. 1, 2015 by DOM 5 comments

WMOF-BMWorld Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.  We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMOF 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 Six: All Love Bears Fruit
Bethany Meola
Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

All love bears fruit: this is the theme of chapter six of the World Meeting of Families catechesis.

Fruitfulness is part of the very definition of love: “It is the nature of love to overflow, to be life-giving” (USCCB, Marriage: Life and Love in the Divine Plan, p. 13). True love is never closed in on itself, seeking its own interests. Instead, love goes out, seeking the good of the other.

This truth about love – that it is always fruitful – is particularly meaningful for married couples like me and my husband, who have not, so far, been blessed with children.

Every child is a living, breathing, walking, talking billboard proclaiming loud and clear: “Love Is Fruitful! Marriage Is Fruitful!” According to St. John Paul II, children are a “living reflection” of their parents’ love (Familiaris Consortio, no. 14). And yet a child – the “supreme gift” of marriage – is not the only fruit of married love.

In fact, the first fruit of marriage is the marriage bond itself (World Meeting of Families catechesis, no. 105). When my husband and I said “I do” on our wedding day, a new family was born. In that moment, we were no longer two individuals, but became a union – a “we” – shaped by and also striving toward God’s own way of loving: total, faithful, and fruitful.

What does the fruitfulness of a childless marriage look like? In many ways, the same as that of a marriage with children: spousal love expressed in many different ways, such as forgiving each other after being hurt, making small daily acts of generosity, praying together, affirming each other, and opening our home to those in need of community.

One difference is that we are relatively more available for acts of service and hospitality than are couples raising children (WMOF catechesis, no. 103). For example, my husband and I look after an elderly widow without local family. We bring her groceries every week and check in frequently. And we’re involved in various ministries in our local church. Could we do this if we had children? Possibly. But the fact is, our time is not taken up (rightly) by the needs of children. And on the flipside, we need people to serve, to live out our marital fruitfulness in concrete ways!

And then there is the profound, and often hidden, fruitfulness of suffering. Every marriage – and every person – will travel through the “valley of tears” at some point. The world may say that suffering is sterile, but Jesus teaches us the opposite: “Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (Jn 12:24). Jesus also said, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit” (Jn 15:5). True sterility, then, is not the absence of children; it is the deliberate closing off of one’s marriage from the fruitfulness of the Holy Spirit and openness to the will of God.

May we all live “in active readiness for God’s will” as it unfolds in our own lives (WMOF catechesis, no. 102) so that we can be the “rich soil” ready to receive the word of God “with a generous and good heart” and bear much fruit: “a hundred or sixty or thirtyfold” (Mt 13:8).

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World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series: Chapter Five

Posted Mar. 3, 2015 by DOM 1 comment

Roder-WMOFWorld Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.  We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMOF 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. The Archdiocese for Military Services has also published reflections, and Chapter 5 is linked here.

 Parenting with the Strength of God
Tim Roder
Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

“Parenting is demanding” (no. 79). I don’t know anyone who would disagree with this statement. In fact a typical response, even from an adolescent, would be, “No kidding!” As a parent (father), of many children, the word “demanding” often seems like an understatement. Parenting is not for the faint of heart, nor is marriage. Marriage and children are great gifts, and can bring untold joy, yet they do not come without their challenges. St. Francis de Sales wrote: “The state of marriage is one that requires more virtue and constancy than any other: it is a perpetual exercise of mortification.” Of course I do not want to dis-sway anyone from getting married and having children, but I think it is good to be aware before going into it. Before you get married, you should humbly recognize that you and your future spouse cannot make marriage work all on our own, but instead see that “with God all things are possible” (Mt 19:26). Christian marriage and family life is about being open to “God’s grace in daily life … even in the midst of fatigue and domestic chaos” (no. 79). It is indeed in those very moments, of the ordinary, mundane, little, and the seemingly insignificant circumstances of life, that we as parents are able to experience “divine love” in a way that is unparalleled.

My wife and I had two children, and greatly desired another. After several months of “trying,” we were elated with the wonderful news that my wife was pregnant. This elation was soon replaced with intense anxiety from numerous threats of miscarriage. My wife was put on bed rest for the first three months because that seemed to be the only way to maintain the pregnancy. It was a stressful time for me, balancing care for her and our two young boys, keeping the house relatively clean, and working full time. But all of this became grace-filled. Those months, and others like them, served as a constant reminder to me and my wife that, as St. Paul taught, “When I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). I found myself often meditating on the preceding verse, “My grace is sufficient, my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor 12:9). I knew that I could not do it on my own. As an imperfect parent I certainly “need help and strength from God, family, parish, and friends” (no. 80). My wife and I received this aid through great outpourings in the least expected ways, from meals to babysitting to—my favorite—friends who cleaned our home for us. These memories are treasures we share with our children and hope they pass on to theirs. How will you allow your domestic routine and life be “places were the Spirit shines through” (no. 80)?

Eventually my wife was taken off bed rest, the pregnancy progressed nicely and we were blessed with the birth of our third son—who had to be induced, somewhat ironically, two weeks past his due date.

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World Meeting of Families Catechesis: Chapter Four

Posted Feb. 25, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

MFEO-small-05World 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?

 

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World Meeting of Families Catechesis: Chapter Four

Posted Feb. 5, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

c8c8dae4ad2e4ca580549a07909b2d77World 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. The Archdiocese for Military Services has also written reflections each month. Click here for Chapter Four!

Chapter Four: “Two Become One” Takes More than Romance
Theresa Notare, PhD, Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

One of my married friends likes to say that marriage is an unrelenting demand to put others first. That’s because marriage is the union where a man and a woman –“the two”—become “one” (see Gn 2:24). Self-giving is at the heart of marriage. Chapter Four of the catechism for the 2015 World Meeting of Families (WMOF) shines a light on this biblical teaching.

Love, as many would agree, is central to marriage.  “Married love,” however, is “more than romance” (no. 55). It’s not that romance is bad; it’s actually quite good, even exhilarating. It’s just that romance does not represent the full reality of love. Romance is only a tiny fruit of love, more like the frosting on a cake. Love, as God intends for marriage, is more.

Married love calls husband and wife to move out of the tight confines of their individual egos and blend their lives, hopes, dreams, and desires. Marriage requires that spouses share the unique gifts of their masculinity and femininity. The Church recognizes marriage as a vocation. It is a specific call from God to love in a nuptial manner, that is, in a way that builds the one-flesh union and is in service to life.

Living married love well is not automatic. Husband and wife will need to rely on God’s grace and consciously cultivate and live the Christian virtues, especially mercy and chastity (no. 62). It may be easy to see how mercy is part of marriage. After all, forgiveness is essential to all good relationships, especially marriage! The benefit of chastity, however, may not be so clear. The WMOF Catechism offers a helpful thought:  “Chastity forms the good habits of self-denial and self-control, which are prerequisites for treating others with mercy” (no. 62). We can understand this benefit of chastity more deeply by looking to the Catechism of the Catholic Church:

The chaste person maintains the integrity of the powers of life and love placed in him [which]… ensures the unity of the person, it is opposed to any behavior that would impair it. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 2338)

Chastity is that virtue which protects the whole person. It fosters respect and ensures that people do not treat each other as objects. Chastity helps people understand the meaning of human sexuality and the gift of procreation. It enables husband and wife to love each other with respect, joy and reverence since it assists in sexual self-control. It enables spouses to speak the nuptial language of the body (a language of total self-gift and openness to life).

Chastity fosters generosity. It helps spouses avoid any action that would assault their persons or the nature of marriage. So, for example, the chaste couple does not use contraception or pornography. Contraception falsifies the nuptial language of the body and assaults the gift of fertility, while pornography degrades their persons and mocks God’s design for married love.

In considering the nature of married love it is important to remember my friend’s words—marriage is an unrelenting demand to put others first! The nature of married love insists that husband and wife give themselves to each other, selflessly, totally, and for the whole of life. Building a strong marriage is a life-long process and the human ego can be difficult to tame. That’s why practicing the Christian virtues can be helpful to ensure that “the two” will “become one!”

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World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series: Chapter Three

Posted Jan. 15, 2015 by DOM No comments yet

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. The Archdiocese for Military Services is also writing monthly reflections. Chapter Three is a click away.

Chapter Three: The Meaning of Human Sexuality
Sara Perla, Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

As we continue to prepare for the World Meeting of Families, this month we reflect on the meaning of human sexuality, covered in chapter three of the catechesis. This chapter focuses on the meaning of the physical world for spiritual persons.  Our bodies, in particular, speak of the human being’s call to love.  As noted in paragraph 43, referencing the Letter on the Collaboration of Men and Woman, sexual difference reveals the spousal call of the human person and is not merely functional for the continuation the species.  The catechesis goes on to remind us that “man and woman are willed for each other” (no. 44) and that “we are never self-sufficient” (no. 45).  There are two concrete ways of living out the call to love as a vocation: marriage and celibacy for the Kingdom of God.

At the end of college, I was privileged to see the complementarity of these two states in a visible way. My friend Erika got engaged her junior year.  For most of us, it was the first engagement of a friend, and at the bridal shower we giggled as we played shower games for the first time and ate finger food.  A few of the women at the shower were among a (strikingly high) number from that graduating class who entered religious life.  Natalie and Terri, two of that number, told us about the different parts of religious habits that they would embrace while we were discussing Erika’s wedding dress and their hopes for children.

I wondered if the wedding would make Natalie or Terri sad, since they would never have one, and all little girls dream about their weddings.  While there may have been pangs that were hidden from view, they both seemed to enjoy every minute of the wedding weekend.  They sang and danced, gathered flowers, prayed with Erika, and were generally just “normal” bridesmaids.  After celebrating Erika and Todd and watching the happy couple drive away, the rest of the crowd gathered for a final party.

When I look around at that scene in my memory, I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness. Natalie and Terri have become vowed religious in two different communities, and two of the young men became priests. Three other women at that party entered religious life, but discerned they were not called to it after a few years. Many of the group married and have children.  It has been over ten years now since that party, and there are no divorces, no broken vows. In an unusual way, my friends that summer gave me concrete examples of being willing to give your life completely back to Christ in marriage or in celibacy for the Kingdom, for life.

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World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series: Chapter Two

Posted Dec. 22, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.  We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMOF 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. The Archdiocese for Military Services reflection on this chapter is here.

“The Best Way”
Theresa Notare, PhD, Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

My mother met my father as a teenager. They dated after high school. When he returned from the Korean War, they married. Like most Catholics at that time, they quickly had four children. As we grew older, and much to my mother’s embarrassment, my father liked to boast to us that they followed the Church’s teaching on birth control. Also he soberly added that there was only one choice in life, even when it came to sex—to follow God’s will and commandments. It wasn’t always easy, he said, but it was the best way.

My father was not theologically sophisticated, yet instinctively he understood God’s design for love and marriage. Dad “got it.” He knew in his heart that every man and woman has an inherent dignity. This understanding shaped his spousal relationship with my mother. The witness of my parents continues to speak to my heart of what it means to be made in God’s image and how that reality impacts the nature of married love.

These thoughts about my parents’ marriage filled my mind when I read Chapter Two of the official catechesis for the 2015 World Meeting on the Family. The theme is about God’s mission of love and how it is revealed in the conjugal relationship. To be made in God’s image speaks both of God’s invitation to share in His life and of the inherent gifts that God gives to each man and woman. The capacity and the vocation to love, just like God, is the foundation for all of human life. It is essential for marriage. And, the conjugal embrace is caught up in God’s divine plan of married love and life.

Scripture and Tradition reveal that God created marriage to be a life-long union between a man and a woman marked by fidelity, permanence, and fruitfulness (see The Code of Canon Law, §1055, Humanae vitae, no. 9). Marriage is a radical call to love like God.

When a man and woman become one flesh in marriage, sex is, by its nature, both unitive and procreative. Procreation is the invitation by the Lord of life to share in the wonder of conceiving children. This is why the Church teaches that children are the supreme gift in marriage (see Gaudium et spes, no. 50). This is also why the Church teaches that “when married couples deliberately act to suppress fertility…by using contraception” they deny “part of the inherent meaning of married sexuality” and actually do harm to their unity (see Married Love and the Gift of Life, USCCB, 2006). This may seem like a hard saying in today’s world, but the burden is lifted when we realize who we are as made in God’s image and God’s vision for married love.

In one of my many conversations with my father, he once admitted that sometimes he had to go to his room, shut the door, pray and remember why he loved my mother. Doing the right thing, even with someone you deeply love, is not always easy. Both he and my mother lived their joint mission of married love, and my siblings and I knew that we were the primary recipients. We saw their joy, playfulness, and reverence for one another.

In the last years of his life, my mother nursed my father through a long illness. My father died at home in my mother’s arms. His last words to her were that she was the love of his life. Their love was easy and passionate. At times it was hard and sacrificial. They chose the best way, they lived God’s mission of married love.

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WMOF Catechesis Series: Chapter Two

Posted Dec. 12, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) 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.

Speaking of Love: From Adolescence to Adulthood
Paul Jarzembowski
Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

In our adolescence, as we move from using the word “love” in family settings (“mommy, I love you”) to using it with people beyond our blood relatives in more personal and intimate ways, “love” becomes a pursuit, not a given.  We agonize over how much someone “likes” us, and then get tied up in knots over whenwe should say “I love you” to that special someone.  Sometimes these trials and tribulations become all consuming, even unhealthy, especially when the quest to be loved and to find others to love becomes too intense.

The roller coaster ride of dates, dances, and doubts are a part of growing up.  I remember my own high school years: I would work up the nerve to ask one of my classmates out, and if she said yes, I would work up even more nerve trying to figure out what to do and what to say on those first, second, and third dates.

Moments like these mark the teenage years of many people.  We wrestle with the emotional upheaval that goes with this youthful time in our lives.  But before dismissing this as teenage fickleness, it should be noted that the tempestuous pursuit of “love” is part of our human DNA given to us by our Creator, so much so that the prophets of the Hebrew Scriptures used this experience to describe the way God pursues us in his divine love for all humanity.

The concern, though, is that some never get off the roller coaster ride.  As we grow into young adulthood, we are called to define “love” in a more mature way.  We incorporate notions of commitment, steadfastness, patience, and compassion into our understanding of this beautiful word.

In our youth and young adult ministries, the Church further challenges young men and women to love as Christ loves, with compassion and tenderness, with selfless sacrifice and humility, and in total acceptance of the Father’s will – exemplified by the biblical images noted in Love Is Our Mission, no. 24: the father of the prodigal son (Lk 15:11-32), the shepherd searching for his lost sheep (Lk 15:3-7), the mother who comforts her children (Isa 66:13), the healer of the blind man (Mk 10:46-52), among other beautiful examples.

Too often, as teens enter young adulthood, especially among those who are disconnected from the Church and ministries for youth and young adults, these wonderful definitions of “love” are not passed on. One thing that I have done with my ministry with young couples is challenge them to see themselves as the father of the prodigal son or the shepherd of the lost sheep: Would they lovingly forgive or search out their fiancée or spouse if they drifted, and then welcome them back with compassion and joy?  Or, like the healing image of Christ in the New Testament, would they sacrifice their time, even to the point of putting their dreams and lives on hold, to take care of their sick or broken partner?

These images can remind us what God means by “love” and how we need a balance of the excitement of affectionate pursuit and the steadiness of stable and selfless commitment to truly understand how to love another as God loves us.

When St. Paul spoke of this mature understanding of love, he reflected in a similar way, saying, “When I was a child, I used to talk as a child, think as a child, reason as a child; when I became a man, I put aside childish things.” (1 Cor 13:11).  In reading Love Is Our Mission, may we be inspired to pass on the beautiful, biblical imagery of love to our youth and young adults – so that, one day, they too can fully experience loving another as Christ so loved the world.

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WMOF Catechesis Chapter One

Posted Nov. 24, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

World Meeting of Families Catechesis Series
The USCCB is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.  We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMOF 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. The Archdiocese for Military Services also reflected on Chapter One.

Chapter One: Created for Joy
Sara Perla, Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth  (Nov. 20)

The first chapter of the WMF Catechesis focuses on the universal call of love. Each of us is “created for joy” and the Lord desires us to be with Him forever. He wants us to be happy!

Pope Francis’s Lumen Fidei [LF] is quoted here: “Promising love forever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love” (no. 52).  Many people today doubt the possibility of love lasting until death.  They fear the risk of taking a vow; of committing themselves to an unknown future.  It is, at its root, a crisis of faith. Do I believe in God?  Do I believe He loves me?  Can I, because of God, have enough faith in myself and in another person to say “yes” forever?

Flannery O’Connor wrote that faith is “trust, not certainty.” It comforts me that we can start small when we are practicing trust.  In my relationship with God, I have needed many small steps of trust before undertaking any bigger leaps.  The hard part, I find, is the seeming dissimilarity between human friendship and friendship with God. In human friendship, trust is built up as each person comes through for the other over time, but in our relationship with God, it’s more an act of conforming ourselves to Him and His will—because He is always there for us, just not always in the way we want or expect.

I trust God because He proved His love for me on the Cross—not because He gives me what I want when I want it. Likewise, I expect that when I, God willing, come before God to marry a man that I love, I will trust that man not because he conforms to my idea of who he should be, but rather because he has been given to me by God who is trustworthy. “God’s love is basic to our identity, and more fundamental than any anxieties, ambitions, or questions we may have” (LF, no. 16).

I have been created to love in trust: I have been created for joy!

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Pope’s Address at International Colloquium

Posted Nov. 17, 2014 by DOM No comments yet

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This week at the Vatican there is an International & Interreligious gathering centering on “The Complementarity of Man and Woman in Marriage.” Archbishop Cordileone of San Francisco, the Chairman of the Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage is among those attending.

The Holy Father opened the Colloquium with an address this morning, November 17. He reiterates:

“Children have a right to grow up in a family with a father and a mother capable of creating a suitable environment for the child’s development and emotional maturity. That is why I stressed in the Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii gaudium that the contribution of marriage to society is ‘indispensable’; that it ‘transcends the feelings and momentary needs of the couple’ (n. 66). And that is why I am grateful to you for your Colloquium’s emphasis on the benefits that marriage can provide to children, the spouses themselves, and to society.”

He continues, “May this colloquium be an inspiration to all who seek to support and strengthen the union of man and woman in marriage as a unique, natural, fundamental and beautiful good for persons, families, communities, and whole societies.”

Read the full text. 

Pope Francis also confirmed in this address that he will be coming to Philadelphia for the World Meeting of Families!

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World Meeting of Families 2015 Catechesis Series

Posted Nov. 6, 2014 by DOM 2 comments

The USCCB Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth is excited about the World Meeting of Families (WMOF) being held in Philadelphia in September 2015.  We are presenting a series of short articles focused on the WMOF 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.

Introduction
Sara Perla, Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth

The WMF Catechesis begins with a quote from Pope St. John Paul II’s first encyclical, Redemptor Hominis.  It begins with one of those classic pull-outs: “Man cannot live without love.” It is so simple, deceivingly so, and striking. Man cannot live without love. Why not? This must mean that every person in the world is loved. Pope Benedict XVI echoed this when he said, “Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary.” Pope Francis tweeted: “The love of God is not generic. God looks with love upon every man and woman, calling them by name.” This forms the basis for all of our discussions about the family, the place in which we are brought into being. We are loved; not only by our parents but most fundamentally by God. We have come into this world not for anyone else’s sake, but for our own. We are loved, because we are.

On a subjective and experiential level, though, we also need to know love. As Pope St. John Paul II continues, “He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it.”

I have been pretty spoiled in love. My parents raised me and my brother in a loving home where they went on date nights and allowed us a lot of freedom to explore our own interests. Even when I went through the teenage years of confusion and angst, slamming doors and crying on my bed, I never doubted that my parents loved me. As an adult I can see that this fact is not one I should take for granted. It is a gift that my life was never “incomprehensible” or “senseless” because of simple things my parents did to show their love for me. My mom would pick me up from school with chicken nuggets that I could munch on the way home, and my dad would take off work to come to school assemblies when I was going to sing.  Pope Francis told the Extraordinary Consistory of Cardinals in February: “We are called to make known God’s magnificent plan for the family.”  I’m thankful that my parents showed me this plan in action. “Man cannot live without love.”

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