On Love in the Family

On Love in the Family

Amoris Laetitia, the much anticipated and eagerly awaited post-synodal apostolic exhortation, was finally promulgated on 19th March (appropriately the feast of St Joseph) and burst on to the global media stage at noon last Friday 8th April. 


You may recall, if you’ve been following this weekly blog, that back in the October of 2014 I said I was going to write a thought for the weekend from synod to synod, as it were, and take it from there. Given the increasing popularity and very encouraging feedback many of you kindly send back week after week, I decided to continue posting the ‘Friday Fast’ after the 2015 Synod to keep the momentum going on family catechesis and spirituality so as to anticipate and prepare for what the Holy Father would eventually say.  Amoris Laetitia – The Joy of Love doesn’t disappoint in terms of the sheer quantity of the content to plough through (and believe me at 265 pages and 320 individual paragraphs, it takes some plowing through as I recorded in another online piece here for the Catholic Truth Society)

I’ve not fully decided what to do yet in terms of utilizing the message of the Exhortation to furnish the blog each week with material, but rest assured if you haven’t time to read it, I will bring some nuggets from time to time which you might find helpful. I would certainly heartily recommend reading the section on the passage of St Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians on the hymn to love. The Pope has written some beautiful insights in there. Go to chapter 4 and read paragraphs 71-89 this weekend if you can, and even throughout Easter, as it’s not just food for thought, but reflections for prayerful meditation both alone, with your spouse or in a group.

For now though I just like to leave you with this passage, especially as we continue to journey through the Year of Mercy, from paragraphs 321-322:
“To want to form a family is to resolve to be a part of God’s dream, to choose to dream with him, to want to build with him, to join him in this saga of building a world where no one will feel alone”.  All family life is a “shepherding” in mercy. Each of us, by our love and care, leaves a mark on the life of others; with Paul, we can say: “You are our letter of recommendation, written on your hearts… not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God” (2 Cor 3:2-3).”

This is comforting message. That each of our households – our families is deeply cherished by God our Father - we are, and always have been, part of His limitless imagination, and in the ordinary things of every day there is often the single most extraordinary channel of grace in our lives; forming, molding, shaping, forging us to be holy – bit by bit...hopefully!

Edmund Adamus

Continue reading

Be Slow to Anger

Be Slow to Anger

This sounds like a no-brainer, but I swear children are hard-wired to find our weak spots.


Even babies are out to get us or so it feels, like when our 2 year old wakes up at 1 or 2 am and won’t go back to sleep in her cot so ends up in the marital bed pummeling me in the back with both feet. Eventually she falls asleep while I lie awake for the next two hours, hopefully mustering up enough energy to carry her back to her own room and bed. Or like the time she so was pleased with herself at pouring full glasses of water over the brand new sofa (thank God it was only water!) she slow-clapped her efforts, and even though I laugh about it now, I wasn’t laughing then.

Biologists like Katherine Hinde know that babies cry at night for a reason. They’re not trying to make us miserable; they want to eat and survive. Even when my 6 year old son constantly leaves practically all of his toys out strewn across his bedroom floor all the time; it isn’t because he’s lazy about keeping tidy (though he needs to work on it) but because he wants to explore every permeation of his imaginary world with all of the objects (yes all at the same time) because he’s wanting to be creative and feel relaxed and happy about enjoying those toys without restriction or inhibition. I can’t be constantly annoyed about normal childhood development, nor do I have a right.  God is slow to anger, too. “Even when he scolds us, he does so with a caress,” Pope Francis reminds us. For me, this means no yelling because I had a bad day at work, or because I’m stressed from lack of sleep and it feels like we’ll never get out the front door on time for the school run or catching the train to work etc.  It means forgiving mistakes quickly, and disciplining only when it’s for my children’s own good.  In short it really means embracing not just the first bit of the famous ‘Serenity Prayer” but the lesser known second half too.

Serenity Prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 
Amen.

Edmund Adamus

 

Continue reading

Loving Unconditionally

Loving Unconditionally

When we had our first child, I had no idea how to be a parent and I am sure that echoes and resonates with many others who started out on this fascinating but rather frightening adventure that is being a parent...


... and obviously in my case being a father. However, it’s not just about being a good parent but being a good, dedicated, intentional Catholic parent raising Catholic children and that’s a whole different ball game as I am discovering day in day out with a 6 year old son and 2 year old daughter! Sure  I have bit of theology I can draw wisdom from, and some pastoral experience of supporting others that I can dredge my memory bank for when I need it.  But if I’m honest raising children continues to baffle me. Is there a method to becoming a good parent? I don’t think so because parenting isn’t like creating a perfect assembly line product— each child is different. And thank God they are for that’s what reminds me that we’re all unique, made in His image and likeness and that my children (though they share mine and my wife’s traits, our genes, my looks - God help them - though they are blessed with hers) are destined for eternity with Him and not to be my/our projects.      

Although I don’t follow any parenting approach in particular, there are helpful hints to be found in the way that God parents us. I figure if anyone knows how it’s done, it’s God. These lessons aren’t limited to parents with strong faith though — they’re just grounded in common sense advice from child-raising experts.
Our family hasn’t endured an adolescent (can’t abide the word ‘teenager’) yet, so we’re not in the slamming doors phase where the kids swear they’ll never forgive me for not letting them go to the party/disco whatever, but even our youngest can test my ability to patiently love her. Nevertheless it can be tough even now (no matter how cute they can be) to not return their naughty behavior by withdrawing my affection (though I’m a big softy really and I don’t withhold it for long – barely a few seconds a times!)

As a parent, it’s natural to want to reward good behavior with affection because it might promote good behavior in the future, but one expert. Alfie Kohn, writes that it is far better to love children, “for who they are, not for what they do.” He goes on to list all sorts of subsequent issues that children develop when their parents love is conditional. When it comes to God’s parenting example, it is heartening that he never gives up on me.

Another emphasizes unconditional acceptance and patience, saying; “God loves first, even when love is not returned.” My children might be ungrateful at times and fall short of my expectations, as they struggle to individuate and  find their place in the world, but no matter what, my job in my own imperfect fatherly way is to love them as patiently as possible because that’s the way God the Father loves each of us and as the venerable Fulton Sheen said: “Patience is power.”   

Edmund Adamus

Continue reading

The Importance of Validation

The Importance of Validation

Validation of feelings, not parking, although parking could be important, too.


Let me tell you a story. Long, long ago there was a charming man and a stunning woman and they felt like they were meant for each other. There was chemistry, they had complimentary personalities, and everyone thought they were perfect together. They got married, and their wedding day was a dream come true. The Mass was beautiful, he wrote the song for their first dance, and their friends and family traveled from all over the country for a great celebration. It seemed like happily ever after.

Then, reality hit. He liked to sleep with a fan blowing on his face. She couldn’t sleep with a fan on and just wanted to be covered with layers and kept warm. He liked to unwind and do nothing, she wanted to be busy doing something all the time. They just felt like they were on different pages!

One day, they wondered if they should have even gotten married. He owned his own business, and would call his wife in the middle of the day to say that something went wrong, or got pushed back, and his schedule was ruined. She tried to fix it by making a plan to get his schedule back on track.

Then he would come home. She would complain about how messy the house was and how exhausting the kids were all day, and he would tell her to clean as she went and give the kids more quiet time. Neither of them felt heard, and eventually they stopped sharing how they felt. He kept his business worries inside, and she grew to resent him for his job outside the house and how he never seemed stressed or shared what was on his mind.

This is a true story about my husband and I. Neither of us knew how to validate each other’s feelings, and so we never felt heard. My husband just stopped calling to vent and gave up on sharing his feelings, because he didn’t want me to fix anything, he just needed to let off some steam. I, meanwhile, continued to complain every night when he got home because I just wanted to feel that he understood how hard it can be to take care of 3 small kids all day long.  He would try to one-up me by explaining how tiring and physically demanding his job was. We were butting heads constantly.


When he came home without validating my feelings, he would start picking up, and then I felt like he was secretly holding it against me that I didn’t have time to clean before he came home. He was sticking it to me that he could clean up better than I could. Really, he was just trying to help me be less stressed, but I didn’t know his ulterior motives!

I didn’t get what validation was at first. I just seemed like you were a parrot, repeating what your spouse said. Why should I repeat what he just said, when I could ask how I could help instead? Doesn’t that seem more practical and loving? But what validation does is show 3 things:

1.     Acceptance – it’s okay for you to have this problem, to feel the way you are feeling.

2.     Understanding – I see where you are coming from, I understand how you feel.

3.     Empathy – I am putting myself if your shoes, and I am feeling what you are feeling.

The fixing and the coming up with solutions can happen later. For my husband, he could often figure something out himself after he was able to share his feelings and then have time to think about it.

When he came home, all my husband needed to say was, “I heard the baby was up last night, you must be tired after taking care of the kids all day!” And then I could feel safe, and let him help me pick up without trying to pick a fight about it.

Then my husband could call at lunchtime saying, “This is the last straw. I’m going to look for a new job, because I can’t do this anymore.” In the past, I would say, “no, you can’t quit your job because your family is depending on you! All you need is to tell the customer this, go buy this new piece, rearrange your schedule to look like this, etc.” But now I know to just listen. “You feel like you want to quit your job, and nothing is working out for you today. That is so frustrating!” By the time he gets home for dinner, he has figured out a solution to his work dilemma and can keep on working.  He had a safe place to share his feelings and time to work out a solution, and it doesn’t lead to an argument or bottled up feelings.

Through validation, we can share what’s on our heart and know we are being heard. Our relationship feels safe instead of feeling like a ticking time bomb. Rather than a breakdown of communication, validation is leading us to deeper communion on an emotional level.  Our marriage will always require effort, but there still can be a happily ever after! Validation is an important way to make that happen.

Click here to watch this award winning short film called Validation!  Also make sure to visit The Catholic Communication Cure, and try the free talks

Continue reading

Pillar of Families

Pillar of Families

“Pillar of Families” is one of the wonderful titles we attribute to the Light of Patriarchs – St. Joseph – spouse of Mary. 

Continue reading

Loving God through Marriage

Loving God through Marriage

I struggle with loving God. Not because I don’t want to, but because I find it hard to figure out how. 


I struggle with thinking that the only way to love God is to participate in reverent Masses and have long hours in contemplative prayer. Well, with 3 kids under the age of 5, Mass is usually anything but reverent and prayer is almost never long and contemplative. So, I often feel like a failure when it comes to prayer.

In my mind, I know that if I wanted to spend long hours in prayer I should have become a nun. But marriage is my vocation, yet often times I feel like my vocation (particularly children), seem more like an obstacle to holiness instead of a path to it.
Now, I’ve read St. Therese’s Story of a Soul, and I’m familiar with her little way in that ordinary acts done with love are more important than great acts. But no offense to the wisdom of St. Therese, it just seemed like a cop out to my feeble human mind.
"Little things done out of love are those that charm the Heart of Christ,” are the words of St. Therese, and I didn’t get it for a long, long time.

Then, one day it hit me while my family was at the park. I was watching my husband play on the playground with our children: chasing them around, helping them down the slide, pushing them on the swings.  And I just felt more in love with him! I felt loved in how he was showing love to the children we created together. So then the light bulb went off: of course that must be how God feels about us! When we love our spouses and kids, we are loving the Creator in whose image we are made.  As St. Therese said, “My vocation is love.” And love comes in lots of different forms!

Having that experience with my own family helped me realize that while time aside in prayer to God is important (vital!), I truly can love God through my vocation. By laying my own wants aside to serve my husband, getting off the computer to sit down and play trucks with my sons, or having one more tea party with my daughter, by doing these things, I am loving God. If all would make use of the ordinary duties and trials of their state in the way God intended, they would all become saints." Sister Miriam Teresa DemjanovichAnd now I can remember that day in the park, how I felt about my husband, and be reminded that’s how God feels about me.

“Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me.” Matthew 25:40

Continue reading

The Art of Giving as Forgiving!

The Art of Giving as Forgiving!

Just recently a priest I know told me how he has been planning to completely refurbish the confessional inside his parish church. 

Continue reading

A Division of
Agapè Catholic Ministries

CONTACT DETAILS

Contact us:

Connect with Us


Follow Me on Pinterest

Copyright and Credits

Articles and content Copyright © 2012-2015
Agapè Catholic Ministries.
All rights reserved.

Privacy Policy

Graphics design by Olivier Heitz.

Site design by CatchLight Professional.

You are here: Home Blog Tags family