From the Sacred Page website:
The Gospel reading for the first Sunday of Lent is the temptation of Christ in the desert according to Luke.
Christ is tempted in three ways: through his physical desires (hunger for food), through his eyes (being shown all the glory of the kingdoms of the world), and through the temptation to pride (to stage a magnificent stunt that would win him fame throughout the nation).
This threefold temptation of Christ corresponds to St. John’s warning about the “lust of the flesh, lust of the eyes, and the pride of life” in 1 John 2:15. This threefold categorization has been known in the Church as the “threefold concupiscence,” the unholy Trinity of temptation.
Eve was tempted in the same way. She saw that the fruit was “good for food, pleasing to the eye, and to be desired to make one wise.” “Good for food” is lust of the flesh. “Pleasing to the eye” is lust of the eye. “Desired to make one wise” is a temptation to pride—Eve wants to be wise like God.
Thousands of years later, the king of Israel was commanded by Moses to restrain himself from the temptations of the threefold concupiscence. Deut 17:16-17 forbids the Israelite king from multiplying horses (military might), women (sensual pleasure), and gold/silver (greed/avarice) for himself. These three items correspond to lust of the flesh (women), lust of the eyes (gold), and pride (self-aggrandizing military build-up).
First Kings 10–11 describe how, in his latter years, Solomon, the first Son of David to sit on his father’s throne and a kind of “New Adam” figure in the biblical story line, egregiously fell prey to the threefold concupiscence by multiplying for himself everything Deuteronomy 17 forbids.
In today’s Gospel, we see Jesus, the New Adam, overcoming the threefold concupiscence, and so undoing the sin of Eve, and overcoming the failings of the first Son of David, Solomon. “One greater than Solomon is here” (Luke 11:31).
All Christians share in Christ’s royal anointing and therefore must take steps to overcome lust, avarice, and pride. In particular, in the Catholic tradition, those who enter the religious life take vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience. These vows are radicalized ways to mortify the threefold concupiscence: lust of the flesh (chastity), lust of the eyes (poverty), and pride (obedience). We should view these “evangelical counsels” as means toward a profound conformity to Christ and his power to overcome temptation. Even Catholic diocesan clergy, who do not take formal vows of poverty, chastity, and obedience, nonetheless de facto commit themselves to this lifestyle. It seems fitting that they should, since they are in a sense the viceroys of the New Israel (Gal 6:16), and therefore should commit themselves more radically to the self-denials required of anyone who would rule over the people of God (Deut 17:16-17).
Someone should make a movie called Objectify Me about how young people in particular are subjected to overtly sexualized images in our culture.
We live in a time where men and women are shamelessly objectified in the media, in art, and in society at large. This, of course, is nothing new. The human body has been objectified for thousands of years in thousands of ways. What makes today's objectification so egregious is the ubiquitousness of the "new media" that promulgates such images. Movies, DVDs, cell phones, web cams, blogs, television and so on, have all been used to advance a sexualized culture to sell everything from cars to video games.
Before continuing, let's define our terms. To objectify a human person is to focus exclusively on his or her sexual value. In other words, to objectify someone is to focus on the body or the physical to the exclusion of all else.
Pornography is the ultimate objectification of the human person. By focusing exclusively on a person's "sexual parts," we ignore their character, their emotions, their hopes, dreams, and ambitions. We ignore the rich inner life each of us have. We ignore the unrepeatable gift and infinite value that each of us are in our humanity.
Dr. Robert Stackpole, STD, a university professor and expert on Divine Mercy, addresses questions such as: What exactly is God’s mercy? Where do we find it in Sacred Scripture? What is the basis for it in the life of the Church? He takes the reader on a tour of God’s mercy in Scripture and Church history. In Divine Mercy: A Guide from Genesis to Pope Benedict XVI, journey from the Garden of Eden to the Hill of Calvary. Discover God’s mercy in the writings of the Church’s great theologians, as well as in the life and teaching of many of its most preeminent saints. Learn of St. Faustina’s call to spread The Divine Mercy message in our time and Pope John Paul II’s legacy of mercy, which has influenced Pope Benedict XVI.
The Divine Mercy is more than a devotion. It is a veritable attribute of God. Dr. Stackpole has included study questions and a discussion starter at the end of each section in his chapters. I found this volume enlightening and would recommend it for individuals, small groups or parish wide studies. Every Catholic should be familiar with its contents.
To purchase this book click here or visit the Catholic Company for similar items.
The LORD God then took the man and settled him in the garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it. The LORD God gave man this order: "You are free to eat from any of the trees of the garden except the tree of knowledge of good and bad. From that tree you shall not eat; the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die."
The LORD God said: "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him. So the LORD God formed out of the ground various wild animals and various birds of the air, and he brought them to the man to see what he would call them; whatever the man called each of them would be its name.
The man gave names to all the cattle, all the birds of the air, and all the wild animals; but none proved to be the suitable partner for the man. So the LORD God cast a deep sleep on the man, and while he was asleep, he took out one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh.
The LORD God then built up into a woman the rib that he had taken from the man. When he brought her to the man…
First, God commissions man to “cultivate and care for,” everything in the Garden. Second, he tells man to eat of any tree of the Garden except the tree of knowledge for, “the moment you eat from it you are surely doomed to die." What exactly did this mean? It means that from the beginning, humanity had free will. Adam was free to love or reject God. Rejecting God, the source of love itself, would have irreparable consequences, however.
Upon waking, Adam is no longer genderless. He is a male person. Adam’s exclamation of joy when presented with woman by God is a profession of love - "This one, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; This one shall be called 'woman,' for out of 'her man' this one has been taken."
Man is no longer alone. His original solitude is over. Together, Adam and Eve experience the bliss that is original unity.
...Lent is a time of great grace, a time a spiritual renewal. Traditionally there are three main components to Lent: prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. So, here are 25 ways to live the Lenten season in a spirit of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving. There is no particular order to these 25 ways, and I don’t pretend that these are the best or most creative ways. However, if you’re looking for some ideas, hopefully you will find one or two here. I’d love to hear some ways that you are planning to enter into the spirit of Lent, so please feel free to leave a comment. Your comments may be helpful to the readers of this blog as well.
Without further adieu, here are 25 way to live the Lenten season.
1) Read a little Scripture (maybe choose one of the Gospels)
2) Read a spiritual book for ten minutes
3) Spend ten extra minutes in silence
4) Pray the rosary
5) Pray the Way of the Cross
6) Stop by a church for five minutes on your way to/from work (if possible)
7) Go to daily Mass or try to go once or twice during the week besides Sunday
8) Put aside $1-$2 a day and give it to charity at the end of Lent (consider giving to Haiti if you haven’t done so)
9) Give up desserts
10) Give up unhealthy snacks
11) Give up alcohol
12) Give up or cut down on coffee or tea
13) Give up bread
14) Wake up earlier than usual (get up as soon as the alarm goes off)
15) Go to bed earlier than usual
16) Give up or spend less time on the Internet, especially facebook, twitter, and other social networking sites
17) Give up or cut down on Television
18) Don’t listen to the radio while you drive; use the silent time for prayer
19) Cut down on the number of times a day you check email
20) Fast on Fridays if your health allows for it (one meal or just bread and water)
21) Call a friend or family member each day—or a few times during the week— to see how they’re doing
22) Volunteer your time at a local soup kitchen, homeless shelter, or another place that is committed to serving the poor, addicted, or abused.
23) Remain calm when driving
24) Simplify your life: each week go through your closets and drawers and get rid of clothes and give them to the needy; each week get rid of books and find a place to give them away
25) Begin and end your day on your knees
I pray that you have a blessed and holy Lenten season!
P.S. I’m leaving for Rome on Thursday to visit our three seminarians at the North American College. Please know that I will pray for you. I may not get a chance to post another article until after I return on the 24th. I will try to tweet from Rome if possible.
We do not have to believe that everything is literal in the Bible. It is important not to be hung up on misconceptions like this. What we do have to believe is that God created us, he created us as man and woman and he gave us free will. Genesis as a book portrays profound truths. John Paul II describes the stories in terms of how they are inspired by the Holy Spirit. Many teenagers think they know all about the story of Adam and eve already. They have heard of Original sin, but as teachers it is important to convey the beauty and splendour of this story.
In the beginning, Adam was alone in the visible world as the only human being. This is known as original solitude. He did not see anyone else like himself. He knew that he was created for a relationship with God. Adam is all of humanity's experience. Women also have a heritage of this original solitude too. The author Scott Hahn says, “God gave Adam an itch that only God could scratch.” God did this through the gift of woman. It might be that God saves the best until last because he created woman last.
The Spousal or nuptial meaning of the body means our capacity to express love. It talks of the meaning and being of our existence. An understanding of the spousal meaning of the body helps us to see the real significance that we are created for union, and that we are meant to be for the other. Our desires are good, and they are for God.
What would society be like if we were not used by other people? Imagine if you could walk down the street naked and that no-one would objectify you. In the beginning, both Adam and Eve had original innocence. This was a state of purity of heart. They did not want to manipulate or use each other. Adam and Eve were able with purity to see God in each other. Adam and Eve were able to love as God loves before original sin.
We cannot tangibly see God as a person. But God draws us to himself through other people. We are all called to make visible the invisible love of God in our lives. My desires ultimately are for God. Sometimes, it is easy to forget that God is there. Man can make woman, just as woman can make man an idol. We are not fully capable of satisfying the deepest desires of each other's hearts. Only God can do that. We idolise each other if we mistakenly believe that a human relationship can bring complete fulfilment. God is the source and summit of desire in a relationship.
Women can be susceptible to pride. In a culture where men look at women like objects, some girls want to be looked at and become desensitized in this process. Girls can even feel upset if they are not objectified in this way. But, we must be a temple for God to live in and be able to bring other people to God. In the beginning, things were not so messed up. The union of man and woman brought them closer to God. Only after the craziness of original sin that everything became so manipulated.
The story of Genesis in many different ways can be compared to our modern day and age. We see the effects of original sin all around us. The marital sexual union was ordained by God as something that is good. The meaning of our existence can be seen through married sexual union. If married love is one of the least inadequate ways of describing God's love, then the devil will surely attempt to thwart it. Satan not only is the enemy of God but is also our enemy. Satan cannot create things, but he can twist and damage what has been created. He is at the bottom of sinful acts. God has given and blessed us with desires and he helps us to make free choices in our decisions. God wants us to choose him freely.
Genesis describes the time of original innocence when we were 'naked without shame.' This was when mankind was so secure in the love of God that there was no such thing as shame as there was a time when there was only love. However, being 'naked without shame' is not the same as being shameless. This is when we don't see the value of other people and even use our own body as a tool. It could be flaunting, drawing attention to myself or showing off.
Pope John Paul talked about the need for shame. Shame has both a positive and a negative function. It acts as a protection against being devalued. Our media manages to violate a lot of people. In what ways do you think that it promotes a culture of shamelessness?
We all have the capacity to desire good. If we can imagine the beauty and innocence of the garden of Eden we can try to recapture and live this out in our own lives in a state of grace.
Today we continue to unearth the beautiful teachings of the Church on marriage and sexuality.
Trees and Gardens: Human salvation is always not far away from trees and gardens: Eden and Gethsemane. Original sin from the apple from the tree. Wood of the cross carried our saviour in the salvation of mankind.
Let us make man in our image (Gn 1:26): Scott Hahn in the book, First comes love mentions how God refers to himself in the first person plural: could this be a reference to the trinity? Man is both unity and plurality.
Key points of Genesis:
We are made in the image of God (1:27) – We display the resplendent beauty of God.
We are told to be fruitful and multiply (1:26) – God's first commandment to man is to have sex.
Saw that it was good (1:31)- Everything that exists is good in itself. God's declaration of the goodness of creation, creation itself is love.
The 7th day of Creation is a day of Rest (2:2) – Rest needed in order to recuperate from work.
It is not good for man to be alone, I shall make a helper fit for him (2:18) – Man called to communion
“Bone of my bones, flesh of my flesh.” (2:23) – Adam rejoices in a soul mate
Naked without shame (2:25) – Both Adam and Eve saw each other innocently as a gift in the beginning.
John Paul starts his Catechesis referring to Christ's discussion with the Pharisees. Moses allowed divorce due to the hardness of men's hearts. This was not God's original plan for marriage. Man is the only creature in the visible world made in God's image and likeness. We have self consciousness and reason as gifts from God. Adam alone is aware of himself and able to determine his own actions.
“Redemption of the body” - Man with an inheritance of sin cannot return to innocence, but is not cut off from origins. Christ calls us to the beginning, as we have the power to restore what was lost.
Human experience is essential to forming a theology of the body. Going back the beginning helps to reconnect with God's original plan for happiness.
Genesis describes the creation of woman in mythical language. The 're-creation' of man as male and female. Male and female share the same humanity.
Sleep in creation of woman “a return to non-being”
Man had no conscious participation in the creation of woman. It was exclusively God's action.
Man not fully human until he engage in double unity as male and female... “two in oneness.”
First Adam is not defined as male ('ish' in Hebrew) until creation of woman ('ishshah').
The rib is an 'archaic, metaphysical and figurative' description of creation.
The Marital embrace is an icon of the inner life of the trinity. “Knowledge” deepest sense of married life. Married life is united and indissoluble. Men and women recapture the gift of creation by becoming a gift to each other. Sexual desire is not selfish or egocentric, but a calling to make a sincere gift of oneself. The Nuptial meaning of the body is the capacity to be a gift to one another. Man can never avoid this meaning of his body.
Grace is a participation in the interior life of God. The original happiness was when man experienced the beautiful communion of God.
Ethos of the gift- man and woman were made good to begin with, did not need external ethic enforcing law of gift. Desire was not imposed from the outside.. but welled up from within.
The Genius of woman
Women are made for relationships
Possess great beauty
Have a deep element of mystery.
Every woman called to be a bride in some form or another.
How would you respond to the following:
“My body has nothing to do with theology.”
“Is everything in the Bible literal?”
“What relevance does the theology of the body have?”
“What is the boundary of original innocence and historical sinfulness?”
(h/t In Spiritu et Veritate)
There was a young woman who had been diagnosed with a terminal illness and had been given three months to live. So as she was getting her things ' in order, ' she contacted her Pastor and had him come to her house to discuss certain aspects of her final wishes.
She told him which songs she wanted sung at the service, what scriptures she would like read, and what outfit she wanted to be buried in.
Everything was in order and the Pastor was preparing to leave when the young woman suddenly remembered something very important to her...
' There ' s one more thing, ' she said excitedly.
' What ' s that? ' came the Pastor ' s reply.
' This is very important, ' the young woman continued.. ' I want to be buried with a fork in my right hand. '
The Pastor stood looking at the young woman, not knowing quite what to say.
That surprises you, doesn ' t it? ' the young woman asked.
' Well, to be honest, I ' m puzzled by the request, ' said the Pastor...
The young woman explained. ' My grandmother once told me this story, and from that time on I have always tried to pass along its message to those I love and those who are in need of encouragement. In all my years of attending socials and dinners, I always remember that when the dishes of the main course were being cleared, someone would inevitably lean over and say, ' Keep your fork. ' It was my favorite part because I knew that something better was coming...like velvety chocolate cake or deep-dish apple pie.. Something wonderful, and with substance! '
So, I just want people to see me there in that casket with a fork in my hand and I want them to wonder ' What ' s with the fork? ' Then I want you to tell them: ' Keep your fork ..the best is yet to come. '
The Pastor ' s eyes welled up with tears of joy as he hugged the young woman good-bye. He knew this would be one of the last times he would see her before her death... But he also knew that the young woman had a better grasp of heaven than he did.. She had a better grasp of what heaven would be like than many people twice her age, with twice as much experience and knowledge. She KNEW that something better was coming.
At the funeral people were walking by the young woman ' s casket and they saw the cloak she was wearing and the fork placed in her right hand. Over and over, the Pastor heard the question, ' What ' s with the fork? ' And over and over he smiled.
During his message, the Pastor told the people of the conversation he had with the young woman shortly before she died. He also told them about the fork and about what it symbolized to her. He told the people how he could not stop thinking about the fork and told them that they probably would not be able to stop thinking about it either.
For James the key to all this is wisdom which is a gift from God and is to be sought in prayer. Wisdom on the human level is the culmination of experience having been reflected upon through faith. Wisdom is the great gift that enables us to confront our many doubts and faithfully persevere and grow. James echoes the teaching of Jesus in the gospels of asserting the impending reversal of the poor and the rich, a teaching very encouraging to those who have lived most of their lives in poverty.
In a way the antithesis of everything James addresses in the beginning of this letter is exemplified by the sign-seeking Pharisees in today’s gospel. They manifest neither faith nor wisdom. They have heard Jesus teach, and they have witnessed his concrete behavior with the sick, the outcast, and the poor. Still they remain riddled with doubt. They want the kind of proof that only faith can provide, but they are not wise enough to understand this. We hope we can learn from their shortcomings.
A reading from the beginning of the Letter of Saint James (James 1:1-11)
James, a slave of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes in the dispersion, greetings.
Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials,
for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.
And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
But if any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and he will be given it.
But he should ask in faith, not doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed about by the wind.
For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord, since he is a man of two minds, unstable in all his ways.
The brother in lowly circumstances should take pride in his high standing,
and the rich one in his lowliness, for he will pass away "like the flower of the field."
For the sun comes up with its scorching heat and dries up the grass, its flower droops, and the beauty of its appearance vanishes.
So will the rich person fade away in the midst of his pursuits.
When a man and a woman fall in love with each other "looks" might initially have drawn them together. Over time, as the relationship grows and deepens, this invariably changes. They fall in love with the other's personality, their kindness, their goodness, their spirituality, their very souls. It is therefore possible for couples who have spent a life time together to be more in love than the day they were married. Loving the "whole person" is the key here not just a person's looks.
Fr. Frank Pavone
The fact is that what he did was wrong. The fact also is that what George Tiller did was murder also. What we can learn from the tragedy of Scott Roeder is that the pro-abortion forces do not want anyone to give the slightest acknowledgement to the humanity of the unborn. Our movement must always be nonviolent, and it must also always insist on the truth.
At the end of the Nineteenth Century and into the Twentieth Century, there emerged a revised and yet original anthropology. Sigmund Freud, focused not on the soul or body per se but psyche, inserted a new angle at which to look at man. Man is overtly sexual. His development is sexual. Man could be seen as the evolving, an image Darwin, but evolving psychically, a precursor to de Chardin. Man is also determined. Man had a tripartite psyche, an opaque mirror of Plato, with the ego, the id, and the superego. Fifteen years after Freud’s death there emerged another brilliant mind from Poland, Karol Wojtyla. Wojtyla, a Catholic priest, had a similar idea. Man is a sexual being. However, Wojtyla splits in understanding. He sees the inherent dignity of the human person. He has a traditional Catholic understanding of the unity of body and soul. Wojtyla’s anthropology is more reasonable and leads to a more positive understanding of man.
 As a side note, Freud does not have an explicit work of philosophical anthropology. Therefore, I had to synthesize my readings into an explicit anthropology. This is my understanding of Freud and not Freud himself because of the aforementioned reason.
 Sigmund Freud, “‘Civilized’ Sexual Morality and Modern Nervousness” in Sexuality and the Psychology of Love ed. Philip Rieff (NY: Collier Books, 1963), 26.
 Sigmund Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle trans. James Strachey intro. Gregory Zilbourg, (NY: W. W. Norton & Company, 1961), 7.
 Leslie Forster Stevenson, Seven Theories of Human Nature (NY: Oxford University Press, 1977), 163.
Fr. Michael J. Woolley
Hundreds of thousands of beehives across America would be thriving and healthy one day, and the next day all the bees were nowhere to be found.
By 2008, one out of every three beehives in the United States had been destroyed, in what is now referred to as “colony collapse disorder,” the cause of which is still undetermined.
Now, you might say to yourself “No Big Deal, I don’t eat much honey anyway, and there’s always sugar if the bees go the way of the dinosaur and dodo bird.”
But it is a Big Deal if all the bees disappear, a very, very very Big Deal.
Because if all the honeybees in America disappear, we would have a nation-wide disaster on our hands that would make the Haitian earthquake look like a picnic.
Because while the bee doesn’t seem very significant compared to other problems our world faces, in reality, the survival of the human race is totally dependent on the survival of the honeybee.
There is a famous quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, that says: “If the bee disappeared off the surface of the globe then man would only have four years of life left. No more bees, no more pollination, no more plants, no more animals, no more man.”
The good news in all this is that last year, only a very small percentage of beehives experienced colony collapse disorder compared to the large numbers in the previous three years, so hopefully that’s the end of that.
I bring up all this, because in recent years a similar and equally serious phenomenon has taken place in our Catholic Church. But instead of Bees disappearing, we have priests disappearing.
Just a few decades ago, even the smallest Churches in America had 2, even 3 full time priests ministering in them.
U.S. Seminaries in every major city were filled to capacity with young Catholic men studying for the priesthood.
Today however, Parishes are lucky if they have one full time priest all to themselves, and the big seminaries of old look as empty as a beehive which has suffered colony collapse disorder.
And if you read last week’s bulletin insert, it said that in 15 years, half of the priests currently active in our diocese will have retired or be eligible for retirement. And we currently are in no way ordaining enough priests each year to replace these retiring priests.
And this my brothers and sisters is a very serious problem, for the local Church is as dependent upon priests for it’s survival as humans are dependent upon bees for their survival.
No more priests, no more Eucharist, no more grace, no more Church, no more mercy, no more salvation.
As St. Padre Pio once said, “It is easier for the earth to exist without the sun than without the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass!”
The hopeful news, however, is that we can, if we want to, easily stop priests from disappearing.
Mary says to us in today’s Gospel “Do whatever (My Son) tells you” And Jesus tells us clearly in Scripture that when priests start disappearing, you and I just need to Pray, and God will turn some of the young men in our parish into priests, just as Jesus turned water into wine at Cana.
“The Harvest is abundant,” Jesus says in Luke’s Gospel “but the workers are few, therefore pray to the Master of the Harvest to send out workers to His Harvest.”
As I mentioned last week in my homily and in the bulletin, our parish is having “24-Hours of Prayer and Adoration for Priests and for Vocations to the Priesthood from our Woonsocket Parishes” which will be held at our parish from 4 p.m. Friday February 5 and end 4 p.m. Saturday February 6.
This weekend, I’m asking every parishioner at Mass to make an offering of at least 15 minutes of their time to come to Church during that 24 hour period, to come to Church and pray for priests and for vocations.
In your pews, you’ll find a “prayer pledge card”. If you could take a moment to fill this out. . . .Once you’ve filled the pledge card out, please put the completed form in the collection basket with your budget today.
Thank you for your patience in filling this out, and for your commitment to pray for vocations.
Jesus didn’t allow the the Wine to disappear on the good Bride and Groom who invited Him to their wedding, and neither will He allow the priests to disappear on us good Catholic who pray fervently to him for vocations.
And while He’s at it, may Jesus keep those Honey Bees from disappearing again on us as well!
Aristotle’s four causes are answers to four common sense questions we can ask about change in the world around us. They are; What is a thing made of?, Who made it?, What is it that is being made?, and What is it being made for? When it comes to human productions, the answer to these questions is usually easy. When it comes to answering these questions as they occur in nature, it becomes more difficult.
Regarding human production, if you asked a shoemaker what he was making his shoes out of he might reply “leather.” If you asked a gunsmith producing a rifle what he was making it out of he might reply “wood and steel.” According to Aristotle, what a thing is made of is the material cause. It is one of four indispensible factors without which the production would not or could not occur.
The second question is: Who made it? Aristotle calls this the efficient cause. When we are dealing with human productions, this would seem to be the easiest question of all. The shoemaker maker makes the shoe. The gunsmith makes the gun. However, when dealing with natural processes this question is much harder to answer.
The third question is: What is it that is being made? Aristotle calls this the formal cause. The answer to this question can seem simple but Aristotle means something specific in using the word “formal” in this instance. The formal cause for the gunsmith would be a gun. The formal cause for the shoemaker would be a shoe.
The fourth question is: What is it being made for? Put simply we might say: Why is it being made? Aristotle calls this the final cause. For the gunsmith, the final cause for producing a gun might be “for protection.” For the shoemaker the final cause for producing shoes might be “comfort.”
Let’s take a look at the four causes in action in a human production. A sculpture takes marble (sculpture = efficient cause, marble = material cause) and turns it into a statue – a statue which will bring joy and be the focal point of interest to everyone who beholds it. (statue=formal cause, a thing of beauty that will be a joy for others=final cause).
Father Rene Butler
It’s easy to imagine the life of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. All we have to do is picture the perfect family: never a cross word, no signs of impatience… None of the unpleasant things that are part of the life of most families.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church has a beautiful theology of the family. But it isn’t theology that makes family life good. Of course what the Catechism teaches is true. Family prayer is important. But healthy common sense is what families need, an understanding of what it takes to live together.
What follows is a talk I have given to members of religious communities, but the principles apply to family life too. There are eight principles, each with consequences.
PRINCIPLE 1 – Snowflake principle: People are like snowflakes, no two are alike.
Consequence: I cannot be what I am not. I can admire others without having to become like them. I can accept myself with my imperfections. That door swings both ways: I can accept others with their imperfections. If persons X, Y, Z can’t be X, Y, Z, who are they supposed to be?
Other consequence: Not to be used as an excuse. I still need to work on my faults.
PRINCIPLE 2 – Elbows and toes: You can’t rub elbows with the same people day in and day out without sometimes stepping on each others toes.
Consequence: Expect and accept the occasional tension. Be realistic.
PRINCIPLE 3 – Hello, I’m nobody!
I'm Nobody! Who are you?Consequence: We need a sense of humor about others and about ourselves.
Are you -- Nobody -- Too?
Then there's a pair of us!
Don't tell! they'd advertise -- you know!
How dreary -- to be -- Somebody!
How public -- like a Frog --
To tell one's name -- the livelong June --
To an admiring Bog!
-- Emily Dickinson
Other consequence: Believe it or not, the universe doesn’t revolve around me; you either. I’m OK, you’re OK.
PRINCIPLE 4 – Remember to forget. The story is told that Clara Barton, on being reminded by someone of an offense she had suffered years before, replied, “I distinctly remember forgetting that.”
Consequence: The burden of resentment usually weighs me down more than the person who offended me in the first place.
PRINCIPLE 5 – “Of course.” We all know what people are like and how people behave. E.g.: Of course people talk about me behind my back.
Consequence: Anticipate and live with certain universal behaviors, bad days, etc.
PRINCIPLE 6 – Avoid Funagalo language. (The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, p. 21.) "They taught us Funagalo, which is the language used for giving orders underground [in the mines]. It is a strange language.... It is a language which is good for telling people what to do. There are many words for push, take, shove, carry, load, and no words for love, or happiness, or the sounds which birds make in the morning.")
Consequence: share more than work-related ideas and plans, but love of arts, etc. Anything that brings light into your life. Even – why not? – faith.
PRINCIPLE 7 – Everyone needs a home In “The Death of the Hired Man” (Robert Frost), the wife of a farmer tells her husband that a former worker has returned. The farmer doesn’t want him. The conversation continues as follows:
Wife: He has come home to die.Consequence: Difference between a house and a home.
Husband: Home is the place where, when you have to go there,
They have to take you in.
Wife: I should have called it
Something you somehow haven’t to deserve.
PRINCIPLE 8 – Somebody’s got to do it. There are things that I can't or won't do that need doing, maybe by people very different from me, whether I like them or not.
Consequence: Be supportive, don’t get in the way.
Family life needs, more than anything else, acceptance. The starting point is to recognize how deeply we are accepted and loved by God. If we can then learn to accept and love ourselves and others as we and they are accepted and loved by God, our families will be transformed.