What is so special about Amoris Laetitia, or The Joy of Love? If you don't have time to read the document itself, here's a must-read article of twelve things you should know about it.
The life of God is not lived in a vacuum. We do not become Christians and then withdraw from relationships with others. Holiness is not something we find outside normal, everyday human activity. Any and all fruits of following Christ with Francis must show up primarily in those relationships which are fundamental: family life. Charity and prayer, penance, poverty, humility—all must have their first fruits in what we contribute to the atmosphere of our home.
The other day during a leadership seminar I’m taking, the instructor said something that really struck a chord with me. We were discussing motivation. He noted that, while people really need to motivate themselves, it is possible to create an environment that is conducive to motivation.
Farmers helping each other to round up Glan Meryn's sheep, Machynlleth. Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / The National Library of Wales.
When Jesus was asked “which commandment in the law is the greatest?” (Mt 22:36), he answered by quoting the two great commandments. Most people pay close attention to the first one about loving God with all our mind, heart, and soul. Not so many give equal notice to the second: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mt 22:34-40). It’s the “as yourself” part that tends to be forgotten or dismissed.
This hesitancy about loving ourselves as much as we love others is understandable. Most of us were taught that paying attention to our self promotes pride and selfishness. Thus, there is a built-in fear of becoming self-centered or narcissistic. True self-compassion does not lead to self-absorption or egocentricity. Rather, it enables us to develop greater love.
As I reflected on my own upbringing while reading Laudato si', Pope Francis’ encyclical on concern for the environment, I really appreciated some of things the pope discusses in it. For example, in paragraph 210, Pope Francis observes that education takes place first in the home and in the family. He also notes that environmental education should facilitate the “leap towards the transcendent.”
A staggeringly great wealth transfer has been happening for more than a decade and will continue for the next 30 to 40 years. From the greatest generation to baby boomers to the generations after them, it’s estimated that more than $42 trillion will change hands! But, besides tangible assets, there is the giving of another legacy, one whose value cannot be told in dollars and cents, or appraised worth. It is the legacy of prayer.
Twenty-five centuries ago, Aristotle wrote a book called Nicomachean Ethics, in which he concluded that the ultimate goal of human beings is and ought to be happiness. Aristotle’s book became a classic long ago. But when you think about it, its thesis is rather commonplace. When we honestly examine our lives, we quickly realize that what we want is to be happy. What sane person wouldn’t? So we scarcely need an ancient Greek philosopher to tell us what we already know.
What isn’t so obvious is how to be happy. There are any number of answers out there competing for our attention. The advertising industry, for example, spends billions of dollars annually to tell us that true happiness lies in buying this or that product. Pop psychologists assure us that happiness consists in getting in touch with our primordial self, looking out for number one, or learning how to be intimate. (It all depends on which psychologist you read.)
One night, I came home from a busy day at work. As usual, I was attempting to get the daily rundown of the kids’ activities, read the mail, check the messages, and get dinner started. That’s when it all came apart.
“Mom, Riley hit me,” reported Alex.
“Mom, I want pink milk,” demanded Riley.
“Mom, I feel like I’m going to throw up,” cautioned Maddie.
Another typical night in the Brigger house, I thought.
Topics: Year of Mercy
My older sister Patricia died of spina bifida before I was born. My younger sister Linda died of spina bifida when I was 3. Given that I was raised in a traditional, stoic, Irish-Catholic family, my sisters and their deaths were never talked about.
In fact, I didn’t even know they existed until I was 5 and found their names in our family Bible. “Who are these people?” I asked my mother.
“They are your sisters”—that was all she said.
Mary of Nazareth, the mother of Jesus, has from the earliest Christian tradition been given a preeminence of place and status in our faith, far beyond any other person in history.
She gave God’s son flesh and blood, and no one was closer to the Savior. In preparation for that unique role, God preserved her from original sin and from all personal sin.