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Allen Ink Slingers Perspective from the Head

What God has Joined Let No One Divide

scan3-77Your Family was started on the day you got married, and after you took your vows.
 The presider may have uttered words similar to the ones above.  It not only applies to you and your spouse, but also to your entire family.  The world many times seeks to separate what God has joined together.  

Living the Life

As our kids were growing up, we got involved in Church, sports and social club activities.  It got to a point that we were busy every night of the week.  I was a member of the church choir, my wife and I were deeply involved in building a Catholic School, three of our children were playing soccer and I was coaching them, and our daughters were members of a Catholic Girl’s club.  In addition to these church and family related items, I worked full time with a bit of travel and even took lessons to become a private pilot.  When a new opportunity for spiritual growth or volunteering came our way, our method of deciding whether or not to say yes was to take a look at our calendar and see if there was any spare time.  If there was, we said yes until every moment of our life was filled with activities.  IMG_2709
Each of the activities we were involved in were good, it was the sheer number of activities that was bad for us.  Looking back on that time in our lives, I don’t think we realized that this constant busyness was unhealthy for our family.  We were just living a full life, volunteering for every worthwhile cause and making sure that each of our children was able have all the fun a child should have.  We were on the road to burn out and to losing touch with our young family.
Then I took a new job and one of the highly suggested activities at my new company was to spend a couple of weeks at our corporate offices helping out in the technical support call center.  It was a great way for a new Systems Engineer to quickly learn the technical aspects of the products while helping out our short-staffed support team.  My wife and I discussed this extended business trip and we decided to buy an RV and make a family trip out of it.  When the planning was completed, I had arranged a trip to California and back that lasted just under a month with stops at customer sites, national and state parks, theme parks and visiting friends and family along the way.  I don’t know that I fully realized the immediate profound effect this trip would have on our family, nor the way it would shape our family life and rhythm for the rest of our lives.

RVLife Lessons from Living in an RV

When preparing to leave for this trip, we had to squeeze 10 people, all our clothing, bicycles, and any personal items we needed for a month into a 31 foot Class C RV with no slide outs and limited storage.  This was a serious exercise in detachment, not only from possessions, but from our normal routines.  I still did my work on the road, but pretty much everything else in our normal routine changed.  We didn’t have any sports, school, social or church activities, we left all that behind when we pulled out of the drive on our way to California, we only had each other.
Our commitments at home weren’t missed, we didn’t long for our things, we had a great time and really grew closer together as a family over the course of our trip.  We ate all our meals together, we visited shrines along the way, attended Sunday mass and an occasional daily mass together, met with friends in different cities, and we explored the beauty of God’s creation.  In summary, we retreated from the world, prayed together, played together and formed closer bonds with each other and with the Lord.  We emerged from our month long adventure a changed family with a renewed focus on what was most important in our lives.  

The Family Mission

God taught us that one of his greatest gifts to us is our family.  Each of our children brings something unique to our family, something we didn’t have before and something that makes our family unit better.  We learned that we really like our kids and they like us too. Our kids didn’t need to be kept busy with tons of activities, they were just as happy, maybe even more so, to simply be with us.  GrandCanyon
Unhealthy patterns had crept into our family, this RV trip was a good exercise which allowed us to take a step back and evaluate our lives and our family routine.  We began to regularly spend time in prayer as a couple and as a family, asking God what our family’s mission should be and where we should be spending our time and energy.  At times this exercise has resulted in minor adjustments, and sometimes  major life changes to our family routine to ensure that we meet our primary goal of leading our family to heaven.
Every family needs to retreat from the world on a regular basis, this can take the form of a family vacation, a family retreat, or just making Sunday family days.  But if you don’t plan for them, they probably won’t happen.  Your family is a great gift from God, be sure to nurture and care for it.  
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Allen Domestic Church Faith Formation Fatherhood Marriage Motherhood Parenting Perspective from the Head Vocations Year of Faith

Family Time!

For the past nine years, the Brothers of St. John have held a family retreat in Buda, TX at the Onion Creek Ranch.  My family has attended all these retreats except for the first one.  We have enjoyed them so much that last year we accepted an offer to organize it.
As a Catholic father, I am always looking for ways to pass on the Faith to my children.  Religious Education and a systematic program of education in the central tenets of our faith is an important component of the faith formation of a child, I would propose that equally important is a lived experience of the faith.  We can accomplish that through Sunday Mass and activities at our local parish, but there are times when we also need to leave our normal routines and retreat for a period of time to strengthen us for ministry within our communities.
The annual Brothers of St. John family retreat, which will be held on the weekend of October 4-6th, offers such a opportunity to immerse your family into a lived experience of the Catholic Faith by escaping from the world for a few days and surrounding yourselves with other people who share your faith.  What is unique about this retreat is that it is not for the individual or the couple, it is for the whole family.  The Christian family is under attack, the very foundation of our society is being questioned.  Some voices in the public square have said that the family is an irrelevant entity that may even being causing harm to our modern society.  As John Paul II said, “The future of the world and of the church passes through the family.” – Familiaris Consortio
We as parents have a sacred duty to pass on the Faith to our children and we can only do that with the help of our heavenly Father.  The task is too large, the opposition too strong for us to be successful on our own.  We need to educate ourselves about the challenges we face within our society, the tools we have at our disposal to raise holy children and work with other families who are striving to raise holy families.  There is also the added benefit of having the brothers and sister of St. John conducting the retreat.  The Prior of the Laredo monastery, Fr. Nathan Cromley, has an impressive list of accomplishments and he is a favorite among the adult attendees as well as the youth. In addition to Fr. Nathan, there will be other priests, brothers and apostolic sisters in attendance.
The benefits of spending time as a family are many, but spending time as a family praying with the Congregation of St. John, playing with each other at a beautiful Central Texas ranch, and learning about God’s Plan for family life from an outstanding priest make such a weekend even more extraordinary.  Please consider joining my wife and I and our nine children for this amazing retreat.  If you are not the outdoor type, consider coming out for just the day on Saturday.

All retreat talks will take place on Saturday and the day will include daily Mass, adoration, family games, a catered dinner, and a family talent show featuring Brother Bear (back by popular demand) on the banjo as Master of Ceremonies.  This retreat always sells out, so talk with your spouse and be ready to register on September 1st at retreat4family.com.  Also be sure to like our Facebook Page.