Just a few more days of Easter left. Easter season actually ends on the Sunday of Pentecost. Today’s blog is one of my most humorous reflections on marriage, being a parent, and encouraging vocations. I hope you enjoy reading it, and please, please comment.
Quote or Joke of the Day:
Whatever you give a woman, she will make it greater. Give her your love, she will give you a baby. Give her a house, she will give you a home. Give her groceries, she will give you a meal. Give her a smile, she will give you her heart. She multiplies & enlarges what she is given. So if you give her crap, be ready to receive a ton of sh@#…
How do the graces from the Sacrament of Marriage help parents? How do we help be “attentive to the vocation of each child”?
On December 1st, 1990, I prayed one of the most beautiful and important prayers any man can pray. It is probably the shortest prayer known, but also one of the most important prayers of evangelization ever. With this prayer came a life of significant sacrifice and love. The prayer: I DO! I love my wife, the most beautiful woman in the world (in my eyes).
We’ve experienced good times and bad, but between the three of us, we’re doing a good job. And yes, I did say the three of us. When I entered into the covenant of marriage with my wife Jeanine, we both also entered into a covenant with God. Marriage is the ultimate lover’s triangle; and the only lover’s triangle approved by the Catholic Church.
For me, marriage is easy, as long as I remember three simple phrases, and don’t go outside these responses: 1)Yes Dear, 2)I Love You, and 3)Have you lost weight lately? Don’t get me wrong; I wear the pants in the family. My wife, Jeanine, just tells me which ones to put on.
Now, it is time for some serious discussion about marriage and children. I love my wife more and more every day. We have been married for nearly twenty glorious years. There have been some bad days, and unhappy events in our marriage, but we got through those trials with God’s help; and through lots of prayer. Jeanine is so much a real part of me that I literally cannot imagine how I lived without her in my life.
Our four boys (Jeanine could not get the girl thing right) are a gift from God. They each have their own distinct personalities, which collide quite often recently as they are teenagers; and the youngest is nearing this period in his life. I see humor in the “hormone” fluctuations running rampant in our household. I also get frustrated with the emotions and attitudes that are often displayed. I wonder if God is doing this as a form of penance for our sins, or if He just wants a good laugh from time to time?
Living in a small home, privacy is a premium. I take this as a blessing because it is easy for us to observe our children closely, and for our children to watch a Catholic marriage through the good times, and bad periods. They see my wife and I kiss (which still totally grosses them out to this day) and say “love ya” multiple times daily. They see us discuss household bills, education issues, parish matters, etc. And they occasionally see us discuss with emotion (some may say argue), but luckily this is fairly a rare occurrence.
The key to marriage and raising children is communication and love. I believe the only arguments we have had, dealt with a lack of communicating in some way or form. Arguments and disagreements are a normal occurrence in marriage, and in ANY worthwhile relationship: how you handle these disagreements is what matters. One can “shut down” or run away from the disagreement, which causes the eventual dissolving of the tie between the two. Or, the two can work out the problem, and create a solution. The first is the easy approach, but the second is the mature, and I believe, Christian approach to loving each other.
Jeanine and I have really only two rules when it comes to arguing: it must be done privately, and we cannot go to bed angry. I have occasionally gone to bed unhappy and even possibly hurt; and I remember a couple times of not sleeping at all that night, but this rule works, and have brought us closer to each other. God is always with us, and seems to help us find solutions to our problems when we asked.
Our children know that “vocation” does not mean ONLY being a priest or brother. They see and participate in vocations regularly. Our sons know marriage is a vocation equal to any other vocation. Their serving mass is a participation in a vocation for their status in life: they are serving the Lord in a small and humble way. My two oldest are “helpers” in the PSR (Parish School of Religion) program at our Church. They do this in a volunteer way to help others learn about our faith and religion: another vocation.
We have encouraged our children to explore various vocations, and have taught them to be open to where the Holy Spirit may want to lead them. A couple of my kids have shown an interest in the priestly life, and we have encouraged this interest, but we have learned to NOT push too hard. If it is right for them, they will find it.
Someday in the future my children will have a vocation. Be it a priest, a brother, a member of the SFO like their father; or as a police officer, doctor, or as an astronaut. Wherever the Holy Spirit leads them, and they are happy in their vocation, and they are productive to society and the church; it will be an answer to our prayers.
“Gracious and loving God, you have blessed us with the privilege of becoming Parents. We ask that you provide us with all that we need in accepting this awesome responsibility. We pray that we will be open to your spirit who is our source of strength, as we witness to our children your love for each of them, and your desire for them to be happy and to live a full life.
We ask your help so we may guide and encourage our children to believe that they each have a special calling and to use their gifts and talents for others.
We pray, Heavenly Father, that our children will discover and respond enthusiastically to your desire for them, whether it be to the vocation of single, married, ordained or consecrated life.
We offer this prayer in the name of Jesus through the grace of the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
Prayer by Mrs. Dorothy Foss
© USCCB. All rights reserved.
Pax et Bonum
Dan Halley, SFO
Franciscan Saint of the Day: St. Felix of Cantalice 1515-1587
In 1515, in the Italian village of Cantalice, in the beautiful valley of Rieti, Felix was born of humble but pious peasants. As a boy he tended cattle, and later he became a farm laborer. Being so much amid God’s free nature, his heart was attracted to God, who gracious ministering to us human beings he had daily before his eyes.
Neither did the hard work make him coarse and worldly-minded, as sometimes happens, but he was gentle and kind towards everyone. When he came home at night all tired out, he still spent much time in his little room engaged in prayer, to which for that matter he applied himself also while at work. It grieved him that he could not attend holy Mass on weekdays. He would indeed gladly have consecrated his whole life to the service of God, but he could see no way of carrying out his desire until one day an accident showed him the way.
Felix had to break to the plow a team of young oxen that were very wild. The oxen shied, and when Felix tried to stop them, they ram him down, dragging the sharp plowshare across his body. Peasants ran to the scene, certain that they would find the man dead, but Felix arose unharmed, with only his jacket rent. But he went straight to his employer and begged to be released from his service. The little he possessed he gave to the poor, and went to the nearest Capuchin convent, where he humbly begged for admission. After careful trial, his request was granted.
Now Felix felt like one newly born, as if heaven itself had opened to him. It was the year 1543, and Felix was 28 years old. But in his novitiate he was yet to experience the burden and the struggles of this earthly life. The devil attacked him with violent temptations of all kinds. He was also seized with a lingering illness, which made it appear that he was unfit for convent life. But patience, steadfast self-control, prayer, and candor toward his superiors helped him secure admission to the vows, which he took with great delight.
Soon afterwards he was sent to the Capuchin convent at Rome, where, because of his genuine piety and friendly manner, he was appointed to the task of gathering alms, which he did for all the next 42 years until his death. With his provision sack slung over his shoulder, he went about so humbly and reserved in manner that he edified everybody. When he received an alms, he had so cordial a way of saying Deo Gratias – thanks be to God – that the people called him Brother Deo Gratias. As soon as he got back to the convent and delivered the provisions, he found his way to church. There he first said a prayer for the benefactors, then he poured out his heart in devotion especially before the Blessed Sacrament and at the altar of our Lady. There he also passed many hours of the night, and one time the Mother of God placed the Divine Child in the arms of the overjoyed Felix.
He was most conscientious in observing every detail of his role and vows. He did not wait for the orders of his superiors; a mere hint from them was enough. Although always in touch with the world, he kept careful guard over his chastity in every word and look, that Pope Paul V said he was a saint in body and soul.
Poverty was his favorite virtue. Because out holy Father St. Francis forbade his friars to accept money in any form, Felix could not be prevailed upon to accept it under ant circumstances. How pleasing his spirit was to God was to be proved in a remarkable way. Once on leaving a house, Felix slung his sack over his shoulder, but felt it weigh so heavily that it almost crushed him. He searched the sack and found a coin which someone had secretly slipped into it. He threw it away in disgust, and cheerfully and easily took up his sack again.
Almighty God granted for Felix extraordinary graces. Many sick persons he restored to health with the Sign of the Cross. A dead child he gave back alive to its mother. In the most puzzling cases he was able to give helpful advice. Honored by the great and lowly, he considered himself the most wretched of men, but earned so much more merits with God.
Finally, the day arrived when Felix was to gather the board of his merits. He died with a cheerful countenance while catching sight of the Mother of God, who invited him to the joys of Paradise. It was on the feast of Pentecost, May 18, 1587. Pope Urban VIII beatified him, Pope Clement XI inscribed him in the register of the saints in 1709.
from: The Franciscan Book of Saints,
ed. by Marion Habig, ofm.,
© 1959 Franciscan Herald Press
(From http://www.franciscan-sfo.org website)
Secular Franciscan Order (SFO) Rule #18:
Moreover they should respect all creatures, animate and inanimate, which “bear the imprint of the Most High,” and they should strive to move from the temptation of exploiting creation to the Franciscan concept of universal kinship.