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Devon Wattam Ink Slingers Priesthood Vocations

Priests Are People Too

 

It takes a special man to answer God’s call to the priesthood. In a world that glamorizes power, pleasure, and self-indulgence, it’s difficult to understand the courage, sacrifice, and self-denial it takes to promise to live out a life of chastity, poverty, and obedience for the good of others.

Whether people think they’re fools or saints, though, it always seems like others can’t fully recognize the humanity of the Church’s priests. Catholics and non-believers alike either hold clergymen to impossibly high standards, only to be disappointed when they fail or see them as hypocrites for speaking the truth in spite of their own sinfulness.

We all need to be reminded of one thing: priests are people, just like you and me.

They Have Strengths & Weaknesses

Priests aren’t robots; they’re men. Even after going through seminary and professing their vows, they continue to be men with personal strengths and weaknesses. I’m always taken aback when people say things like, “He was so smart. He could’ve been anything, but he chose the priesthood…” or “He is so attractive. What a waste!” 

The priesthood isn’t a prison sentence. It’s not a punishment for the misfits of society who don’t fill the perfect mold of what would make a good husband, father, student, or employee. As people of God, we should celebrate the intelligence, talents, work ethic, and even attractiveness of our priests. These traits aren’t wasted because they’re not experienced as a husband or father; they glorify God’s goodness in a unique, powerful way through the priesthood. 

They Make Mistakes

Priests aren’t infallible. They aren’t perfect. They aren’t God. We need to remind ourselves of this from time to time when we get hung up on mistakes that they make, big and small. While they are in a public position to serve the Lord and his people, they are still sinful and will assuredly do things that not everyone likes or agrees with. Cut them some slack. Forgive them when they disappoint you, and move on.

Likewise, we shouldn’t hold priests that we love and agree with on a pedestal so high that we put them in the place of God. It’s equally as tempting to idolize godly men as it is to write off men for not being godly because there seem to be so few of them left in the world. When we do encounter one, it’s easy to hang onto his every word. We must fight this compulsion, however, recognizing that priests are God’s servants, not God himself. 

They Need Our Prayers

At the end of the day, priests are on a journey to heaven just like the rest of us. But unlike the rest of us, their vocation is put on display for everyone, Catholic or not, to critique. I am thankful that the world isn’t watching my every move as a wife and mother under the scrutinizing microscope that most priests experience. I would be continually critiqued, and rightfully so. 

Priests need our prayers. The good ones and the ones we struggle to find the good in. Thinking of the countless tasks they do every day that go unnoticed – the hospital visits, community outreach, continuing education programs, on top of saying Mass, hearing confessions, and managing a parish for little income – it’s a wonder that anyone would join the priesthood at all.

And yet, they do.

Knowing the sacrifice, ridicule, and ingratitude they will experience from the world, something still compels men around the world to take on the most important job in the world: bringing Christ to his people. For that, we owe them our prayers.

 

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Alyssa Azul Ink Slingers

Loved as His Daughter

Loved as His Daughter

“A father loves you enough not to let you remain a child. Any parent will love you enough to make sure you become all that you are meant to be– not remain the same. In the same way, the Lord, as our Father, chastises us. He does not want us to remain in sin, but His endless mercy means that we always have a chance to return home and repent.”

This was my takeaway from Father Marc Cramer’s homily back in June. I never really understood God as my personal Father growing up. I was raised by a single mother, so having a constant father figure as a part of a family unit was sometimes lost on me.

God is a compassionate Father. Sometimes it’s hard to see that at first, like most of us do with our own dads. We see someone who works long and hard, is unrelenting, and carries high expectations. The last thing you want to do is disappoint him. There is a different kind of “fear” that I felt in front of my dad that I didn’t feel with my mom. I always feared 1) not following his orders correctly and 2) doing something that would harm my relationship with him.

We all yearn to be noticed and loved by our fathers, especially as daughters. With our God, I think it’s easy to feel like every little thing that we do puts our relationship with Him in jeopardy. That every mistake we make severs a strand of the imaginary rope of love that connects us to Him. As sisters we are already highly critical of everything that we do. We must be the perfectly prayerful and faithful sisters that we are called to be. Otherwise, we are undeserving of God’s love. The thing is, God wants our hearts just as much as we want His.

As a single person, this strikes me especially strong. I’m still navigating the waters of the future that He has planned for me, whether that is in marriage or in the religious order. In praying for a partner, the model I should be looking to is Him. My friends and colleagues often mention how the kind of husband they want is really someone who is like their fathers. It all makes sense! This is not to say that every father is perfectly graceful and perfectly loving, but there is something in our hearts that wants a man who will love and protect our (possible) future daughters with that same steadfast and tireless disposition we see in many of the men in our lives.

I remember that I would see a sliver of vulnerability in my dad whenever we were getting ready for school. He would fumble trying to put a barrette in my hair. He would put it on backwards and then give up and tell me to fix it. And he had a clumsy, awkward roughness when it came to these feminine things. I appreciated that he always tried, anyway. These are the moments of my dad that I cherish, when he was soft and inviting.

With that, I encourage us to speak to God as a daughter every once in a while. Ask Him to hold you when you are broken, to challenge you to do your very best, and to lead you in making wise decisions. Most of all, allow Him to embrace you when you are repenting. Allow him to love you so that you can change and be the person you are meant to be. This is is a father that is relentless in His mercy for us.


Reflection

What is something that you learned from your dad or any father figures growing up?

Categories
Books Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Kerri Matrimony Reviews Sacraments Vocations

Marry Her and Die for Her: A Book Review

Doing book reviews is always interesting. You never know what you’re going to get! I was definitely curious when, last fall, I was asked to review a book titled Marry Him and Be Submissive. What a title!! Controversial for sure, but a great read. Then more recently I was asked to review the companion volume Marry Her and Die for Her. I didn’t even realize there was a companion volume but was thrilled to hear it.

In her first book, author Costanza Miriano tackled what it means to truly be a woman. Go back and read my review (and get the book) to get an idea of the topics she tackles. In this second book she is focusing on men. I will admit that the title of this one tricked me a bit. I assumed the audience was male-focused and thought this might be the kind of thing that could make a good Father’s Day gift (it’s just under a month away). Boy was I wrong!! Sort of. While I think men should still read this book (and I’ll be sharing it with my husband), this is also a great book for us ladies to read.

In this book, Costanza challenges women to be of service to their husbands (continuing the challenge from the previous book) with a focus on helping them to be real men who want to protect us, our children, and be willing to die for us. She discusses standing by your man in his decision making (even if you would have made a different decision), keeping him as a priority over children and other commitments, giving him the benefit of the doubt, and much more. She does this with the same humor, tangential discussions, and bluntness as the previous volume.

The chapter set up this time is a bit different, and for me it was easier to get into the rhythm of the book. Although I liked the last book and understand why she set it up as she did, I preferred the organization of this one. These chapters are broken into two parts. The majority of the chapter is a discussion of the topic punctuated throughout with her same blunt opinions, humor, and supporting Church teaching. At the end of each chapter she offers a short letter, often a suggested letter for the female subject of the chapter to write to her husband or boyfriend.

I really enjoyed this particular book. I was pretty much hooked from the very beginning (maybe I was also already used to her writing style) and really did laugh out loud at many parts. I found myself reading selections to my husband at times and I even did a lot more underlining and took a few notes in my copy. A few times I felt convicted by her thoughts and will take that away as food for thought in my own marriage. My favorite chapter was the last one. In the last chapter she looks more at herself as she considers how she might have turned out. She does this by addressing the chapter to a single male friend of hers, focusing on men growing up to be real men rather than overgrown adolescents (not an uncommon occurrence in our highly secular world). She talks about suffering and how our personal crosses help us grow in maturity, she discusses the value of work and how work means different things to men versus women, and she focuses on how family and/or religion make us better people.

Throughout the book there are these discussions. I love how she brings in stories from the Gospels, from St. Paul’s letters, quotes saints and other Christian writers to support her objective that men should be the decisive, strong presence in the family and women should be the supporting, nurturing presence that builds up the man and gives him that desire to keep his inherent role at the top of his game. This is all very contradictory to what the secular world teaches us. Costanza acknowledges that the feminization of men is growing rapidly around us. As Catholics, we should be living lives contrary to this secular world. And in the end, we find greater happiness and greater freedom in this life.

Something about this book made me want to get to know the author herself a bit more. In the first book, I walked away kind of glad I was not friends with her. Oh, what would she have to say to me?! But with this one I started feeling warmed up to her. She seems like someone I would enjoy talking to and discussing the state of our modern world with. And her bluntness is actually refreshing. I would actually even recommend reading the Acknowledgements section (a section of most books I usually overlook but happened to read this time) at the end of the book. She obviously has a real love for all her many friendships and an authentic love of the Church and God.

I highly recommend this book (and it’s companion volume if you haven’t already read it). Read it and then give it to your husband/boyfriend/father/uncle/adult son to read as well. If you are interested in buying this book it is currently available at Tan Books for $24.95. As like the previous book, this one is also a translation. Originally published in Italian, Tan Books is now making it available in English.

Go grab a copy. I hope you will enjoy it as much as I did.

Categories
7 Quick Takes Faith Formation Fatherhood Ink Slingers Kerri Saints Vocations

7 Quick Takes Friday, #7QT: Role Model Saints for Dads

7_quick_takes_smThis #7QT post is for all the fathers out there. I am using the term “fathers” very broadly. Fathers are those men in our lives who raised us, taught us the faith, and taught us how to live the faith. They can be biological fathers, adopted fathers, uncles, cousins, Godfathers, priests and religious men, and many others. All these fathers need role models and who better to turn to than some of our Catholic saints. As we approach Father’s Day (June 15, ladies, don’t forget!), I thought this was a good time to highlight a few saints who are good role models for dads and other spiritual leaders. Special thanks to our “Perspective from the Head” writers Devin and Allen as well as my husband for their suggestions.

–1–

St. Joseph

The ultimate role model for dads has to be St. Joseph. He served as the earthly father of God’s own son, Jesus. What an amazing responsibility! Although we hear nothing about St. Joseph in the Bible after the Finding of the Child Jesus in the Temple, we can ascertain that Jesus grew into the man he became thanks in part to St. Joseph. No words of his are recorded in Scripture, yet his actions show a man of great faith. Joseph is an example to all fathers of a strong yet gentle man who cared for his family, honored and respected his wife, and was a man with extraordinary faith.

Further Reading:

–2–

Blessed Pier Giorgio Frassati

Not all of our “Role Model Saints for Dads” have to be fathers with children. There is a lot to learn from even young men who embraced life in all its fullness and also had a strong spiritual life. Although Bl. Pier Giorgio Frassati was only 24 when he died, his life was an example of holiness, spiritual leadership, and living life fully. He loved the mountains, hiking, singing, poetry, the poor, and above all Christ. He gave money to the poor whenever he could, was a member of Catholic Action and the St. Vincent de Paul Society, and he worked with the poor in the slums eventually contracting polio, which caused his young death. This is a man who fathers can look to as one who fully embraced life while also having an intense prayer life. He was no “gloomy faced saint.”

Further Reading:

–3–

St. Louis IX, King of France

Louis IX was a pious man who ruled France in the 13th century. His father died when he was twelve. His mother served as regent until he reached the age of 21. He married at 19 and he and his wife had eleven children. In his long list of patronages, he is listed as being the patron of parenthood and of parents of large families. His love for Christ and his children is exemplified by this excerpt of a letter written to one of his sons:

“My dearest son, my first instruction is that you should love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your strength. Without this there is no salvation … If the Lord bestows upon you any kind of prosperity, thank him humbly and see that you become no worse for it, either though vain pride or anything else, because you ought not to oppose God or offend him in the matter of his gifts. Be kindhearted to the poor, the unfortunate and the afflicted. Give them as much help and consolation as you can. Thank God for all the benefits he has bestowed upon you, that you may be worthy to receive greater. Always side with the poor rather than with the rich, until you are certain of the truth. Be devout and obedient to our mother the Church of Rome and the Supreme Pontiff as your spiritual father.”

Further Reading:

–4–

Blessed Louis Martin

Blessed Louis Martin was beatified along with his wife Blessed Marie-Azelie Guérin Martin. He also was the father of nine children, five of whom survived to adulthood, all girls, and all became nuns, the most well-known of whom was St. Thérèse of Lisieux. The life of Bl. Louis was one of hard work and dedication to both his family and to God. By all accounts, he had a contemplative soul and was a deeply spiritual man. He is a great example of a loving and devoted father as well as a  committed Catholic who served as an example of a holy life to the children God put into his care.

Further Reading:

–5–

St. John Bosco

John Bosco devoted his life to ministering to poor and neglected boys. He gained their trust and then taught them the faith and took them to Mass. Eventually he founded the “Oratory” in 1842 originally numbering about 20 boys. By 1846, about 400 boys were a part of the community. Over time, St. John Bosco taught classes and found a place for the Oratory to open a permanent home, which eventually became the Salesian Society. To this day, the Salesians teach boys from the beginning of their education all the way through to seminary, for those who wish to study for the priesthood. They also teach night classes for adults, Sunday school, and much, much more. St. John Bosco is the patron saint of boys, school children, and young people. For fathers, St. John Bosco is an example of perseverance and dedication in teaching the Catholic faith and caring for young boys and men.

Further Reading:

–6–

Blessed Luigi Quattrocchi

Blessed Luigi Quattrocchi and his wife Blessed Maria Beltrame Quattrocchi, were the first couple to be beatified together. They are an example of spousal love, of devotion to the family,  and of community service. Together they had four children, two became priests and one a nun. They were also organizers, founding three different organizations in Italy, one for scouts, one for lay Catholics, and another that organized and accompanied the infirm on pilgrimages to Lourdes. In his homily for the Beatification, Pope John Paul II said,

“Drawing on the word of God and the witness of the saints, the blessed couple lived an ordinary life in an extraordinary way. Among the joys and anxieties of a normal family, they knew how to live an extraordinarily rich spiritual life. At the centre of their life was the daily Eucharist as well as devotion to the Virgin Mary, to whom they prayed every evening with the Rosary, and consultation with wise spiritual directors. In this way they could accompany their children in vocational discernment, training them to appreciate everything ‘from the roof up’, as they often, charmingly, liked to say.”

Further Reading:

–7–

St. Thomas More

St. Thomas More, whose life is dramatized in the movie A Man for all Seasons, was a staunch supporter of the Catholic Church. Refusing to swear allegiance to King Henry VIII as Head of the Church of England, he was eventually imprisoned and then martyred for the faith. He remained completely dedicated to the Holy Roman Church to the very end. A father of four, he was an example of standing up for the truth.

Further Reading:

Who else would you add to this list and why?

For more 7 Quick Takes, #7QT on social media, check out Jen Fulwiler at Conversion Diary.

Categories
Domestic Church Fatherhood Homeschool Ink Slingers Mass Motherhood Parenting Raising Saints Vocations

Goal Setting in {Catholic} Homeschooling

Before setting your goals for your homeschool take a moment first to make a list of why you want to this. Once your list is completed, circle or highlight all of the most important or positive points from your list. Think of this list as writing your own defense ahead of time against naysayers. This way, if someone questions you about your decision, you now have a list in your head of well thought out reasons as to why you are now homeschooling. This list should be composed by you and your spouse so that you both are on the same page from the start. If your children are older, you may also want to include their reasons as well. Including the children from the onset also helps them explain why you have chosen this as a family. It will equip them with reasons should anyone ask them (believe it or not even strangers will ask them). So what should be in your educational philosophy statement? You should ask yourself the following two questions:

  • Why are you homeschooling? (tip: do not stick to only the negative reasons)
  • What is it that you would like to accomplish with your children? (hint: think in general terms mostly)
  • What are your children’s gifts and/or impediments?

Now grab this list and create a one to two paragraph Mission Statement. This will also come in handy to re-read on those more challenging days. Now that you have an Philosophy Statement written, you are now ready to start setting goals. This is long term goal setting. Now think of the specifics of how you will accomplish your statement. Make five lists under these categories:

1. religious goals – obviously, have to do with matters of Faith and the Church
2. increase in virtue goals – have to do with those things that teach manners and build character
3. academic goals – depends on what each child’s abilities are
4. extracurricular goals – join teams, choir, co-ops
5. social goals – sometimes covered in other areas but still important to incorporate

Since some states require you to submit your goals when you begin homeschooling, this list will come in handy. Make sure your goals are realistic, you don’t want to set yourself up for failure from the start. Here are some examples of each goal by category:

1. Religious Goals:

  • go to daily Mass
  • go to monthly Confession
  • get son involved in altar serving
  • get children to join the Church choir or schola
  • follow the liturgical calendar; follow it more closely

2. Increase in Virtues Goals:

  • children to be polite and use appropriate responses in conversations
  • sit correctly at the table and learn appropriate table manners
  • learn to be helpful around the house with chores
  • to be charitable with others specially parents and siblings
  • to learn to be appreciative of what God has provided us

3. Academic Goals:

  • have child needing testing for learning issues or possible high IQ
  • complete a grade level within the required time frame such as 180 days or 9 months
  • advance student in area(s) they are gifted in
  • support student in areas where there are gaps or having difficulty with
  • attend therapies for those students needing it such as occupational therapy, speech, and reading remeditation

(You can also look up any of the Scope and Sequence of any of the Catholic Curriculum providers for ideas in this goal and then tweak it for your family.)

4. Extracurricular Goals:

  • look into getting involved in a co-op in your area so that students can participate in group activities
  • find out about clubs like Blue Knights or Little Flowers
  • join a sports team or individual sports like tennis or swimming (some offer programs during the day for homeschoolers)
  • take music lessons individually or as a group
  • participate in a homeschool band

5. Social Goals:

  • join a manners class or class like the Junior Cotillion League
  • join a youth group, if of age or participate at your parish’s events for kids
  • attend events at your parish for families
  • go to the park, you’ll be amazed how many other homeschooled families you will meet there
  • join a play date group

In conclusion, setting goals will help create a vision for what you and your spouse would like for your homeschool to be like and also it will give you a list of well thought out reasons in case anyone questions you. It will help you feel more confident about your decision to Catholic Homeschool. This list is also a great thing to have around and revisit, and possibly tweak, each school year. Having goals written will help you and your children stay focused, motivated, and on task. Describe four enabling goals needed to achieve the long-term goal. Keep it to four or five minimum as each year you will set more age/grade specific ones. Each year you should use these goals as the foundation for whatever curriculum or yearly goals you set for your children.

 

What’s Next in the Catholic Homeschooling 101 Series? Next week we are going to discuss homeschooling methods. I really like the way that Catie over at Our Catholic Homeschool has set her’s up by style and then the pros and cons. I suggest you visit her blog and see what she did to get an idea.

Did you miss our past posts?

10 Steps to Start {Catholic} Homeschooling