#WMOF2015 Catechesis: Love is our Mission- Two Become One

This month, the 8th World Meeting of Families will take place in Philladelphia, USA. The World Meeting of Families is an international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration. The theme of this meeting is Love is our Mission- The Family Fully Alive. The meeting will end with the Festival of Families and Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

To prepare for the event, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family have created a preparatory catechesis on family life. Each chapter ends with questions for discussion. Below, I share my answers.

Chapter 4: Two Become One

World Meeting of Families 2014 Catechesis Love is Our Mission the Family Fully Alive

a) What is the Catholic spirituality of marriage? What can families do to celebrate and protect Christian marriage?

Catholic marriage is a radically different to the romantic partnerships the culture proposes. While romance is great element in a relationship, marriage, Catholic or otherwise, cannot be built on this alone. “To be what we are- to love as we were created to love- certain virtues are necessary.” (WMF Catechesis). Prudence, temperance, justice, fortitude, faith, hope and love are required for marriage to thrive. The catechesis reminds us that, in order to fulfill our destiny, we must be alive to these virtues and cultivate them. Families can protect Christian marriage by nurturing these virtues.

b) If marriage is a sacrament, what are the implications for courtship? What qualities should we seek in a Catholic spouse?

While all the virtues are important, the virtue of chastity, in relation to marriage, is especially important. When discerning marriage, it is important to train the heart by practicing interior freedom.

Some of my friends thought I was crazy to marry my husband before living with him. In their eyes, our marriage was doomed before we said “I do”. Trial marriages are the new normal on our culture, while waiting until marriage to move in together is unusual. The Catechism tells us that a trial marriage is a contradiction of terms-2 it is an attempt to live intimately but hypothetically, to test the relationship and pursue it as long as the romance is flowing” (CCC 2391). On his blog, Sliding vs Deciding, Dr Scott Stanley observes that the many steps and stages of courtship that used to exist in a relationship are no longer there and couples are more likely to slide through important transitions, such as moving in together, rather than make concrete decisions, and a commitment, about them.

As the virtues are essential to the sacrament of marriage, one should look for these virtues when seeking a Catholic spouse. However this quest is not an intellectual pursuit. We can recognise the virtues in a future spouse through the characteristics they share with moral exemplars in our own lives, those people we have grown to respect, admire and love.

c) How do the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist relate to the Sacrament of Marriage?

Reconciliation and fidelity are the foundation of married life. These sacraments foster and protect true communion between the sexes, and help us grow in our capacity to love as Jesus does.

d) In the Lord’s prayer, we say, “forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” Do you find it easy or difficult to do that? How does forgiveness enable relationships?

Many of us take God’s mercy for granted. Yet, when others wrong us, we spurn their apology, make little effort to make amends and even seek revenge. This situation is not uncommon in my own life. Being angry and holding a grudge is the easy choice, while forgiveness can be a difficult option and a long hard road to healing.

Forgiveness enables relationships by helping the relationship, and the people in it, to grow. The sacrament of Penance renews our appreciation of our own sinfulness and how this wounds God and others, and damages the relationship we have with Him and our loved ones.  Above all, the sacrament renews our comment to being again, to restore the harmed relationship and gives us the grace to do that.

#WMOF2015 Catechesis: Love is Our Mission- The Meaning of Human Sexuality

World Meeting of Families 2015 logoThis month, the 8th World Meeting of Families will take place in Philladelphia, USA. The World Meeting of Families is an international event of prayer, catechesis, and celebration. The theme of this meeting is Love is our Mission- The Family Fully Alive. The meeting will end with the Festival of Families and Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.

To prepare for the event, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family have created a preparatory catechesis on family life. Each chapter ends with questions for discussion. Below, I share my answers.

Chapter 3: The Meaning of Human Sexuality

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a) Why do Catholics enjoy and value the physical, tangible world so much? Think of anything beautiful, such as nature, bodies, food or art – why are these things so important in Catholic tradition?

Creation is a reflection of God’s glory. The catechesis reminds us that “the natural physical world bursts with spiritual goodness” and that the Catholic faith is a “physical” religion- the bible begins in a garden and ends in a feast.

A magnificent sunset, a delicate flower, a beautiful smile are all daily reminders of our maker. “In the sacraments, material things are consecrated and made visible signs of grace” (WMF catechesis). Water, bread, wine, the touch of hands are ways by which God’s presence becomes real.

b) What is the purpose of creation? Is the physical world a blank slate, which we’re free to rule and exploit to our own desires?

Creation is an overflowing of God’s love who made us to share in the eternal exchange of the divine love of the Trinity. We are stewards of creation. In performing our role, we practice the virtues of prudence, justice, fortitude and temperance.

Due to original sin and concupiscence, we sometimes, like the bad stewards in the bible, exploit creation. Part of creation is the ecology of humanity itself. As part of God’s creation our bodies have innate dignity. “We do not always love as we ought, but God’s pattern of love protects us and calls us back to our true natures” (WMF Catechesis).

c)Things like rest, food, pleasure, and beauty are attractive. But sometimes we have deeply felt desires and appetites beyond what is good for us. How do we know when a desire is legitimate and good? How can we cherish and enjoy creation and our bodies in daily life?

 Media and marketing are permeated by “selfism”. The slogan, “because I’m worth it”, is a succinct summary of the attitude that pervades our “me” culture. This outlook can conflict with the Christian, who makes a sacrifice of himself to help and love his neighbour. Therefore it can be difficult to discern what is genuinely legitimate and good, when our culture is telling us the opposite, to “treat yourself” and that “you can have it all”.

Aristotle said that the best activities are the most useless.  In contrast, when it comes to our relationships, when we desire someone lustfully, we are looking at them in a utilitarian way. We use the person for our own gain, a means to an end, treating them as an object, rather than seeing them as person with dignity, deserving of reverence and respect.

We don’t know when a desire is legitimate and good. Because of our fallen nature, we justify our behaviour, and even make virtues of vices. We need to reject the selfish temptations that the culture proposes.

There is a joy and serenity in enjoying the things of this world without being consumed by them. We need to keep our gazes and hearts fixed on God. We receive grace through the sacraments and cultivate a personal relationship with God. Through knowing Him, we discern the ways of virtues and with His grace, we have the strength to follow His ways.

d) Why do you think Catholic practice traditionally includes feasting and fasting? Celibacy and marriage?

In Matthew’s gospel, a follower of John asks Jesus why the Pharisees fast, but Jesus’ disciples feast. Jesus replies that the bridegroom’s attendants cannot mourn while the bridegroom is with them, but that a time will come when he will be taken away from them and they will fast (Matthew 9:15-16). The Church, “in the course of the year… unfolds the whole mystery of Christ from his Incarnation and Nativity through his Ascension, to Pentecost and the expectation of the blessed hope of the coming of the Lord” (CCC 1194). The celebration of the liturgical year requires fasting and feasting, as we remember Jesus’ life. It was, and still is for some Catholics, tradition to fast on Fridays, the day Jesus died, and all Catholics celebrate his resurrection on Sunday.

In celibacy and marriage, we can live out our God-given masculinity or femininity in generous, self-giving ways. “Both ways of living look to God’s covenant and receive the fact of being created as male and female as occasions of joy … The discipline we impose on our love… honors and reveals the true meaning of love, created in the image and likeness of God”(WMF Catechesis).

7QT: Encounters, Books and Prayer

encounters books and prayer
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1. A blessed meeting
– Have you heard of the Blessed is She community? It’s a community of women online, who connect via blog and Instagram. Every day the Mass readings for the day and a short reflection by a member of the community arrive in my inbox. It sets me up for the day. Through this online community, I connected with a Blessed is She sister who also lives in Ireland, and we met for the first time at the weekend! A happy encounter and the first of many, I hope!

2. Park life– the sun has been shining this week so we have replaced indoor play with outdoor play and trips to the park. Sometimes twice a day! Little T loves the swings and the toddler slide. And watching the other kids, the dogs, and the man cutting the grass… happy days!

3. Longer runs– I’ve mentioned before I recently completed a couch to 5k programme, and I am hoping to run a 10k at the end of the month. Well, I have no official training plan, other than do a couple of 5k runs and one long run per week. The few weeks, I have started doing those longer runs (6k, 7.5k and 8k) and I love them! Changing my route really distracts me from the fact that the run is longer and running up hills I thought I could only roll down has made me appreciate how much my fitness has improved.

4. #UNIRL– #UNIRL, UN Ireland, was trending on Twitter this week. Why? Because a UN committee have said that Ireland must have a referendum on abortion to ensure women and girls in Ireland can fully realise their economic, social and cultural rights. The Committee said that the Irish Constitution appeared to “elevate the unborn to the status of a citizen” and said there was a “contradiction between” the Irish Constitutional right afforded to the unborn and the rights guaranteed by the Covenant “to a woman’s right to life and to health”.

This is being pushed further by so-called human rights organisation, Amnesty International, who fight for human rights while simultaneously denying a person’s first right- the right to life. It’s sad and disheartening to see UN agenda being played out in our small country.

walk softly5. Walk Softly and Carry a Great Bag– Teresa Tomeo, host of EWTN’s Catholic Connection, published this devotional book at the end of last year. I have been dying to get it and it finally arrived through my letterbox this week! Yey! I have only read a few of the reflections, but lets just say, I won’t be putting this book on the bookshelf, I will be carrying it round with me in my bag so I have it to hand when I have a few free minutes for some reading

6. Dawn Eden– speaker and author came to Ireland this week and I managed to catch her on her tour. She is a faith-filled, inspirational woman who has overcome a difficult start in life and is now a convert to the Catholic Church, and writes and speaks about chastity and healing wounds. She shared her testimony on EWTN’s The Journey Home. I’m looking forward to reading her new book- the Thrill of the Chaste- Catholic Edition!

7. The Sacred Heart Novena- The novena for this great feast began last Thursday, so I should have been praying the novena all week. Well, I thought about praying it every day, and desperately wanted to do it, but it didn’t quite work out… until Thursday, one week later. I did all the readings, prayers and reflections for every day in one go. I know, its not an ideal way to pray a novena, but I am learning that, as a mum, prayer time and Mass time are different!

How was your week? Post me a comment in the box, I would love to hear from you 🙂

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