Obedience As an Act of Love, NOT Fear

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image via Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Laurel, a delightful Catholic mom over at MuffinDome Blog has a lovely reflection on the best way to command authentic obedience from your children. She offers her own insightful comments in response to somethings she read in Parenting with Grace.  She writes…

We are entering into the years where we begin expecting obedience from our toddler. Obviously, it is not that easy — even if she understands what I’m asking her to do, she doesn’t jump to it right away. It is a process that is ongoing and difficult and growing {for both of us}.

Even for the most docile of children, obedience is not automatic. Even for the children that like to please their parents, it is not a given. These are helpful, but I’m finding that what is even more important is what I GIVE.

I recently started the Popcaks’ book, Parenting With Grace. Within the first few pages, I stumbled across something that really struck a chord with me: inspiring obedience through an example of loving service. The goal isn’t to instill obedience out of fear – of what might happen if they don’t obey, but rather instill obedience out of love – and what might happen if they DO.

I’ve always loved St. John Paul the Great’s Theology of the Body. One of the things he emphasizes over and over in it is the fact that the body is made to communicate the personand that the body speaks the language of self-donation or gift. Our bodies make us capable of giving of ourselves. They make us able to serve others. Through our bodies we are capable of committing acts of love.

As parents {and in any other capacity where we expect obedience from others}, we must first give example through loving service. We must give of ourselves in order to inspire others to do so in return.

This teaches an obedience based on friendship rather than fear.  We want to teach our children an obedience that anticipates and fulfills the needs of another, so that, in turn, they may learn to do this for others themselves.

Seen in this light, obedience is really another form of intimacy where one person attentively seeks out the needs of the other and lovingly fulfills them, often without being asked, certainly without being asked twice. (Popcak, p.25)

We want to inspire our children to be obedient through an example of loving service. If we are generous and loving with our children, in turn, they will want (hopefully!) to be generous and loving with us.  READ MORE

Thanks Laurel, both for your kind words and your willingness to embrace the joy of parenting from the heart!  May God bless you and your family abundantly!

Father Forgive Me, For I Am Angry: Further Reflections on “The Furious Mysteries”

Image via Shutterstock.

Image via Shutterstock.

It seems like anger is the topic of the day.  Earlier, my wife and I were discussing the Christian response to anger on More2Life Radio.  Shortly after I got off the air, I came across an article titled, The Furious Mysteries  in which America’s Fr. James Martin reflects on what we are to make of Jesus’ displays of anger in Scripture.

It’s a terrific question.  What does Jesus’ anger teach us about how we should manage ours?

Anger, Wrath & the Divine Longing for Justice

Many people think that anger is a sin.  There’s a lot of confusion about what constitutes anger, which is a gift from God, and wrath, which is anger’s more diabolical cousin.  In Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing and the Seven Longing of the Human Heart I argue that wrath is a distortion of the divine longing for justice.   What do I mean?

At the dawn of creation, God created within the human person a bone deep desire to see that God’s plan for life the universe and everything was fulfilled.  This divine longing for justice, which is one of the seven longings of every human heart, was given to us by God to to help us keep and protect–and, later, restore–the balance that God created at the beginning of time.

Anger is our bodily response to the experience of injustice–it is the God-given, gut-level reaction that says, “This is not right!”   What many people refer to as “righteous anger” represents God’s call–through our body– to prayerfully seek solutions that allow his will to be done, justice to be established and proper order to be restored.  Righteous anger always leads to an intentional, proportionate, appropriate response that seeks to heal the injury and build up the body of Christ.   In each instance, Jesus’ anger in the Gospels presents an example of just that. I believe this is the key to unraveling with Fr. Martin cleverly refers to as “the Furious Mysteries.”

The Furious Mysteries–Jesus’ Anger in Scripture.

Jesus  sometimes got angry, but  he was never wrathful.  He didn’t overturn the money-changer’s tables because he was having a bad day and lost his cool.  He did it to see that God’s intentions for the temple would be respected.  He knew that any lesser attempt to demonstrate that his Father’s temple was not a shopping mall but a place of reverence would have simply been ignored.  As dramatic as it was, his behavior was an intentional, proportionate, and appropriate response to the merchants’ attempt to rob God of the honor he was due. Jesus’ display of righteous anger was an intentional effort to restore right order to the temple where His Father, not commerce, was to be the main attraction.

Likewise, when Jesus referred to the scribes and pharisees as “You snakes!  You den of vipers” (Mt 23:33) he wasn’t calling them names to be cruel like some internet troll.  He knew that using such colorful language was the only way to shock them out of their prideful belief that they could save themselves with their obsessive-compulsive adherence to the rules.   He knew that they were so convinced of their own righteousness that the only way he could shake them out of their complacency and open their hearts to the message of repentance was to compare them to the things they would never want to be, the exact opposite of what they thought they were trying to be; “whitewashed tombs”  filled with “death and dry bones” and “snakes”, representing the personification of Satan, the ultimate example of pride, himself!   Sometimes, Jesus anger was shocking, but in every instance, Jesus’ anger represented a conscious effort to see that God’s will would be done and it was always ordered to the godly good of the person/people on the receiving end of it.  His displays of anger represented an intentional, proportionate, appropriate attempt to work for the good of people whose behavior would be their undoing.

Wrath:  Anger that Wounds

But unlike righteous anger which is always intentional, proportionate and appropriate, the deadly sin of wrath represents a response that is reactive, disproportionate, and out of order.  Rather than responding to God’s call to restore justice, wrath makes us behave in manner that makes the existing offense even worse!

While I generally like Fr. Martin’s article,  I would gently disagree with his somewhat fuzzy distinction between wrath and anger.  He argues that Jesus anger wasn’t sinful because “Jesus is never angry on behalf of himself”  while our anger  “is more frequently of the selfish type, the result of an offense to ourselves.” He supports this idea by pointing out that when Jesus was being tortured and crucified, he did not express any anger. Indeed, he went “like a lamb to the slaughter” (Is 53:7) and even forgave his executioners.

The problem I have with this interpretation is that it suggests people are “selfish” when, for instance, they stand up to an abuser.  I’m sure Fr. Martin didn’t mean this.  In fact, he says as much when he writes,  “Of course we need a healthy love of self and a care for the self. So sometimes a strong response to injustice is justified.”   But I counsel too many people who are confused on this point exactly because of fuzzy distinctions like this.  If the only difference between righteous anger and wrath is that righteous anger serves others and sinful anger serves me, then when, exactly, is it OK to offer “a strong response to injustice?”   There is an unhealthy attitude among too many Christians that says that if I set boundaries of any kind or stand up for myself in any way, I am being selfish–after all, look at how Jesus dealt with his abusers!  

I would argue that this view, though well-intentioned, almost fatally misses the point.  So, what is the real difference between anger that is sinful and anger that is not?

Why Didn’t Jesus Become Cross on the Cross?

Remember that anger, properly ordered, is a God-given, gut-level response to an experience of injustice.   We can think of injustice as a situation or relationship that is “out of order” (i.e., not in line with God’s plan). Seen in this light, Jesus did not express anger when he was being tortured and crucified because he knew he needed endure this suffering to restore the right order that existed between God and humankind.   Although it was not right that we should cause him to suffer, he willingly submitted to that suffering so that the Father’s plan could be fulfilled and the order between Heaven and earth could be restored–a task no one else but him was able to accomplish.   By contrast, the suffering of an abused wife, for instance, is unjust because it represents a disordered relationship between man and woman, a relationship that directly contradicts Gods plan for marriage.  Moreover, the wife’s anger at her abuse and her attempts to either stand up to her abuser or escape him represents a just response to abuse because it attempts to call the marriage to godly order.

In short, what makes a display of anger either righteous or sinful is not whether I, personally, benefit from it but whether or not the way I am expressing that anger represents an honest, intentional, proportionate, and appropriate attempt to see that God’s intentions for a particular situation or relationship would be fulfilled.  While wrath offends God’s plan by making a bad situation worse with our reactions, righteous anger seeks to heal wounds, restore relationships,  and re-establish godly order.  To discover more ways our deepest desires–and even our darkest desires–can reveal God’s incredible plan for a grace-filled life, check out Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.


Just Wait a Minute! (Why Patience Isn’t What You Think)


We were talking about patience on More2Life Radio today.  What it is, what it isn’t, and how to get more of it.

Patience, of course, is the virtue we all love to hate.  We all know we need it, but we sure as heck don’t want to ask God to give it to us.  And yet, perhaps some of that reluctance is due to the fact that we don’t really understand what patience is.

Patience—> Happiness

Psychologists refer to patience as the ability to delay gratification and we know from research that this ability is essential for a happy life.  In his famous Stanford Marshmallow Experiments, psychologist Walter Mischel studied a group of kindergartners.  He placed a marshmallow in front of each kid in his study and told them they could eat this marshmallow now or, if they could refrain from eating that marshmallow for 15 minutes while he stepped out of the room, they could have 2 marshmallows when he came back.   He recorded their responses and then continued to check in with his participants periodically into adulthood.  He found that the kids who were able to patiently wait for the second marshmallow, in high school, had better academic success and better SAT scores than the kids who ate the marshmallow right away.  As they entered adulthood, the kids who were able to patiently wait for the second marshmallow had lower incidence of addictions and obesity, and reported higher scores on multiple measures of life and relationship satisfaction.

The ability to practice patience is key to living a happy life.

What Patience Is and What It Isn’t

Most people think that patience is the ability to endure an injustice without getting upset.  But that’s not really what it is.  In fact, passivity is Satan’s plagiarism of patience.  To witness an injustice and feel nothing and do nothing isn’t a virtue, it’s the sin of sloth!   In reality, patience is the virtue that allows us to respond to an injustice in a thoughtful, measured, proportionate and responsible way.   Patience is the virtue that allows us to experience an injustice and, instead of lashing out and merely reacting in ways that ultimately make the problem even worse, step back and consider the best way to respond and then allow that good effort to germinate and blossom and bear fruit.

As I observe in my upcoming book, Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heartpatience is an active virtue that allows us to respond in an appropriate way and then allow that response to mature and take effect.  It allows us to make appropriate adjustments along the way and wait to see how those changes effect things before we make additional changes.  True patience does not require us to disengage from the problem.  It challenges us to engage in a more thoughtful  and intentional manner.

Cultivating Patience…Painlessly.

It can become easier to practice patience when we stop seeing it as the call to simply grit our teeth and suffer without complaint.  “Practicing patience” is really not about suffering gleefully.  It is about responding to suffering and injustice in a way that allows you to be thoughtful and intentional and then, instead of complaining about it, stepping back and thoughtfully shepherding the good efforts you began to a fruitful and just conclusion.  Yes, patience involves restraining ourselves from  excessive complaining, pouting, and misery-making, but only so that we can save that energy we would waste complaining and instead be able to respond in a mature, productive way to the challenges we face, that God’s will might be done in our lives, that our needs would be met, and the injustices that plagued us could be resolved by his grace.

Seen in this light, perhaps we can allow patience to take it’s place in our lives as a key to happiness and well-being.


Raising Children Who Love (or Don’t Hate) the Sacrament of Reconciliation

Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

A guest blog by Kim Cameron-Smith, Contibutor to More2Life Radio and founder of www.IntentionalCatholicParenting.com

I’ve heard that some people love going to Confession.  I personally don’t know any of them.  Maybe it’s an urban legend.  I think avoiding the confessional is our human default, because we are uncomfortable exposing our weakness to others.  The Church wants us to know that the Sacrament of Reconciliation is a gift.  It’s more an opportunity than a duty.

Confession brings our human failings to the Light where we can find healing, courage, and support.  The devil hates that!  He thrives in the dark, like a fungus.  He wants us to keep our sins and moral struggles to ourselves, because full freedom from them requires community – it requires family, friends, and counselors, especially our priest when he acts as Christ in the confessional.  In particular, as embodied creatures we need the physical experience of the confessional:  when we feel and hear ourselves speaking aloud the truth of our failings, when the priest with his body and his voice acts as Christ extending his mercy to us, we can understand better the power of repentance and the reality of God’s forgiveness.

How can we raise children who understand this deeper truth about Confession, who welcome it as an opportunity?  Here are a few lifestyle tips that may help.  These aren’t lessons our children learn from a book, but rather from the way we relate to them:

1.  Use positive, gentle methods of discipline.

We human beings approach every new relationship through a filter created by our previous relationships, especially our earliest relationships in our family of origin. That filter creates in us expectations about how we will be accepted, loved, and treated, how we should respond to disappointments and tension in our relationships. We tend to approach our relationship with God the same way we approach these human relationships.

So, how we respond to our children when they fall short of our expectations or rules will create a model in their minds for how God responds to them when they seek his forgiveness.  No matter how much we may love our children, if we are scary and rejecting when they make a mistake, they may internalize that model so deeply that they perceive God as scary, harsh, and unapproachable rather than merciful and loving.  If God is too scary, our children will never experience fully the graces of Reconciliation. It may even lead them to avoid the Sacrament of Confession altogether as they mature.

Gentle, non-punitive discipline methods actually strengthen your relationship with your child.  Help your child recognize where he went wrong (what virtue was missing in his choice?), how he can fix the mistake he made (apologies, reparation, confession), and what steps he can take in the future when confronted with the same choice.  When we do this, eventually our children understand intuitively that Confession works the same way:  they are safe, they are responding to an invitation made in love, and the priest is there to help them reflect upon where they’ve been and where they need to go next in their relationship with God.

 2. Help your child identify what kind of person he wants to become.

It’s crucial to their moral development that we help our children define who they are and what they want their lives to be about.  They should avoid sin, yes.  But I think it’s even more important to help children focus on something positive — something to rise to and not just the mud they should avoid.  This is a central insight of Catholic virtue ethics.  If we focus only on what we shouldn’t do, we may miss the clues God gives us about who he wants us to become and where he wants to take us.

My husband and I certainly have “don’ts” in our home – behaviors that our children know are unacceptable.  But we emphasize the “do’s” – actions and choices that are loving, generous, and wise.  We actually spent a few family meetings making a list of the virtues we hope define our family – our current strengths and those virtues we aspire to live better.  This exercise is great for building family solidarity.  When my children are wrestling with a behavior, I can use the virtues we’ve adopted as a family to point them in the right direction.  If they are squabbling over a toy or the last cookie, I might ask them, “What would a kind and generous person do?”

With my two older children (ages 16 and 11), I’ve been leading them to define for themselves which virtues are most important to them as a Christian with a unique mission.  In Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s book Parenting with Grace, they suggest that older children create their own mission statement.  Love this.  When older kids are confronted with a choice, they can check in with their personal mission statement and ask themselves whether that choice supports their mission statement and whether it will lead them closer to becoming the person God is calling them to be.

 3. Guide your child in a daily examen.

An examination of conscience before Confession is basically a way to check in with ourselves, to reflect honestly on our spiritual health.  Why not make this kind of spiritual self-awareness a daily habit for our children (and ourselves!).  The Ignatian examen is a great tool to use with your kids for this purpose.  When we pray the examen, we review the events of the day, recognizing our blessings and our failings, asking God for the strength to do better as move forward.

We can use the examen at bedtime.  Help your child reflect on how her day went.  How was she blessed?  Did she love well?  How did she use her gifts and talents? Did anything happen to hurt her or did she hurt anyone?  Thank God for the blessings of the day and ask him for help in serving him better and more fruitfully tomorrow.  Guide your child in making amends with God and others for the mistakes she has made.

Leading children in the daily examen gives them practice in noticing their own interiority – their joys and struggles — so that approaching their parish confessional feels more natural to them.  When this practice begins in childhood in the warmth of your child’s bed and in the safety of your arms, she is encountering those physical reminders of the joy and comfort of drawing closer to God which she can experience during Confession.

Is it possible, even with our generous, loving parenting, that our children will still be hesitant and nervous about Confession?  Yes.  Because it’s a human tendency to avoid facing our sinfulness, to hide in the dark with our failings tucked up inside our sleeves.  But children who are emotionally whole are less likely to get stuck on their way to Confession.  They will possess a great gift:  a maturing readiness to encounter God and to accept his invitation of friendship and mercy.

For more great tips on raising emotionally whole and holy children, see Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s book Parenting with Grace and my free parenting magazine Tender Tidings which you can access along with other resources at www.intentionalcatholicparenting.com.


Kim Cameron-Smith is the founder and editor of Tender Tidings magazine and www.intentionalcatholicparenting.com.   She lives in Northern California with her husband Philip and their 4 children. She is a regular contributor on the topic of “intentional Catholic parenting” on Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s radio program More2Life.  Kim is a licensed attorney and a member of the California State Bar.  She holds a B.A. in English from Wellesley College, an M.Phil. in Medieval Literature from Oxford University, a Master of Theological Studies from Harvard University, and a J.D. from U.C. Berkeley.

Beyond A Wing and A Prayer: A Catholic Vision of Masculinity


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Image via Shutterstock

Check out this terrific post at Catholic Exchange by Pastoral Solutions Institute clinical associate, Dave McClow.

“A wing and a prayer” is a saying about a plane that is badly damaged but makes the landing.  Men have been in a sustained identity crisis, as I have alluded to elsewhere.  Radical feminism sees men as the oppressors from which they need to be liberated.  They are right if they are talking about brutal and domineering men, but not all men are this way.  Men have been badly damaged by being seen as the oppressor just because they are men.  This damage has created another problem—passive men.  So men in an identity crisis are the beat-up plane.  In my research and thinking about a Catholic vision of masculinity, I conclude that being a spiritual father is the summit of being a man.  This is the core of all men’s identity: young, old, single, married, divorced, with or without kids.  READ MORE



Celebrate World Happiness Day with 7 Research-Based Ideas to Increase Your Joy! (My Favorite is #4).

Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

The United Nations has declared March 20th to be World Happiness Day where nations are encouraged to explore how well they see to the overall well-being of their people.  At the heart of World Happiness Day is the World Happiness Index, that looks at six factors that determine the relative happiness level of a country’s citizens; productivity, healthy life expectancy, social connectedness (having people to count on), perceived freedom to make healthy choices, perceived freedom from corruption/injustice, and generosity.

Here are 7 things you need to know to increase your experience of happiness on World Happiness Day!

1. What is happiness?  Research shows that there are two kinds of happiness:  Pleasure-Based Happiness (hedonic happiness) and Value-Based Happiness (eudaimonic happiness).  Pleasure-based happiness is represented by the pursuit of fun, pleasure, and the attempt to avoid stress.  People who pursue value-based happiness pursue meaningful work and roles, intimate relationships, and a virtuous life.  Research shows that people who pursue value-based happiness lead healthier lives, have more satisfying relationships, and exhibit greater life-satisfaction than people who pursue pleasure-based happiness.  It turns out, the pursuit of meaningfulness, intimacy and virtue is the key to true joy and authentic happiness.

2.  You control about half your happiness level. Although the exact level will vary from individual to individual, it appears that up to about 50 percent of our happiness levels are preset by genetics or our environment (called our happiness set-point). But that’s good, because it also means that about 40 to 50 percent of our happiness is within our power to raise or lower.

3. Money doesn’t buy happiness. Once we get to a certain level of income that is enough to pay our bills and keep us in the lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to, more money doesn’t result in more happiness. The only two exceptions to this rule is if you give money away, or if it significantly improves your social rank. People who give money away appear to sustain greater levels of happiness over time than those who don’t.

4. Miracles Don’t Buy Happiness Either. Winning the lottery and other miraculous windfalls make people happy in the moment, but that happiness fades fairly quickly and then people return to their prior level of happiness (usually within 6 months). Studies of people who have won the lottery appear to be no more happy than those who haven’t in the long run. Real happiness comes from being able to enjoy the little blessings of everyday life (see #7 below), not from hoping for “the big break” that will finally allow us to be happy.

5. Relationships are a key factor in long-term happiness.While research has demonstrated that this effect is strongest for married people, other research has shown that strong social connections with others are important to our own happiness. The more of these you have, generally, the happier you will be. And while marriage is significantly correlated with increased happiness, it has to be a strong, healthy marriage in order for that to be true.

6. Focus on experiences, not stuff. People who spend their time and money on doing things together — whether it be taking a vacation to someplace other than home or going on an all-day outing to the local zoo — report higher levels of happiness than those who buy a bigger house, a more expensive car, or more stuff. That’s likely because our memories keep an emotional photograph of the experience, whereas the material things don’t make as big an emotional imprint in our brains. So ditch buying so much stuff for yourself or your kids — you’re only buying artificial, temporary happiness.

7.  Be Grateful.  As I note above, it can be difficult to increase your happiness set-point, but research shows that practicing gratitude has the power to raise your happiness set-point by as much as 20%. Taking time to write down your blessings, write a thank you note, to praise God, or make a habit of saying “thank you” to people even for the little things can make you a much happier person.

People have a lot of ideas about what it takes to be happy, but these research-based ideas reveal the truth about how we were made to live.  As our Christian tradition teaches, happiness doesn’t come merely from the pursuit of pleasure and the avoidance of conflict.  It comes from pursuing a meaningful, intimate, and virtuous life that identified by a generous spirit, and open mind, and a grateful heart.  If you’d like to discover God’s plan for authentic happiness, check out this video  or pre-order Broken Gods:  Hope, Healing, and the Seven Longings of the Human Heart.

What Happens in Vegas…Will Haunt Your Marriage Later. New Study Shows Pre-Marital Sex Decreases Marital Satisfaction.


The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia published a study called “Before ‘I Do'” and found that what couples do before they say ‘I do’ actually matters — and that premarital experiences from the past could end up haunting them long into marital bliss.

“What people do before marriage appears to matter,” stated Dr. Galena K. Rhoades and Dr. Scott M. Stanley in the 2014 study, saying that “how they conduct their romantic lives before they tie the knot is linked to their odds of having happy marriages.”

Rhoades, a Research Associate Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Denver, and Dr. Scott, a Research Professor and Co-Director of the Center of Marital and Family Studies at the University of Denver, have spent their time researching relationship commitment and development, as well as related implications for family, children, and divorce.

Their findings lead to the conclusion that happy marriages could weigh on the balance of relationships past.

They found that those couples who partook in hooking up, premarital cohabitation, or even engaging in multiple sexual encounters with different people over the course of their lives would have a less likely chance of remaining in a happy marriage – if they even got married at all.

“What happens in Vegas – everything you do before settling down in marriage – may not stay there,” Rhoades and Stanley continued, saying that “those who have had more romantic experiences are more likely to have lower-quality marriages than those with a less complicated romantic history.”

About 90 percent of Americans have sex before marriage and on average, these Americans will have five sexual partners before settling down with “the one.” (READ MORE)

The good news is that regardless of your pre-marital history, God wants you to have a happy marriage and a healthy, vital, passionate post-marital sexual life.  Marriage, as a sacrament, is capable of facilitating both healing and holiness.  Even so, the more complicated your pre-marital history is, the harder you may need to work to overcome the bad habits you may have picked up along the way, bad habits that can block marital grace and undermine marital satisfaction and stability.  Now, more than ever, couples need resources and support that can help them leave behind the world’s vision of love and sex and embrace a more godly vision; a vision that leads to real joy, deeper intimacy and true satisfaction.  

No matter where you’ve been.  No matter what you’ve done.  God wants to give you the love your heart longs for.  Will you let him?

In Celebration of His Feast Day: 8 Reasons St. Joseph is the “Guardian of the Redeemer”


In 1989, Pope St John Paul the Great published his Apostolic Exhortation on St Joseph called Guardian of the Redeemer (Redemptoris Custos).  Here are 8 great quotes from that awesome document to help you celebrate the Feast of St Joseph (March 19).

1.  “I am convinced that by reflection upon the way in which Mary’s spouse shared in the divine mystery, the Church—on the road towards the future with all humanity—will be enabled to discover ever anew her own identity within this redemptive plan, which is founded on the mystery of the incarnation.”

2.  “He took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing; he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body.”

3.  “The [Incarnation is] the mystery in which Joseph of Nazareth “shared” (commuicavit) like no other human being except Mary…he shared in it with her; he was involved in the same salvific event; he was the guardian of the same love, through the power of which the eternal Father ‘destined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ (Eph 1:5).’” 

4.  “…while it is important for the Church to profess the virginal conception of Jesus, it is no less important to uphold Mary’s marriage to Joseph, because juridically Joseph’s fatherhood depends on it.”

5.  “…whereas Adam and Eve were the source of evil, which was unleashed on the world, Joseph and Mary are the summit from which holiness spreads over the earth. The Saviour began the work of salvation out of this virginal and sacred union

6.  “‘Joseph took his wife, but he knew her not until she had borne a son’ (Matt 1:24-25). These words indicate another kind of closeness in marriage. The deep spiritual closeness arising from marital union and the interpersonal contact between man and woman have their definite origins in the Spirit, the Giver of Life (see John 6:63). Joseph in obedience to the Spirit, found in the Spirit, the source of love, the conjugal love which he experienced as man. And this love proved to be greater that this “just man” could ever have expected within the limits of his human heart.” 

7.  “The growth of Jesus “in wisdom and stature” (Luke 2:52) took place within the Holy Family under the eyes of Joseph, who had the important task of “raising” Jesus, that is, feeding, clothing and educating him in the Law and in a trade, in keeping with the duties of a father.”

8.  “St Joseph is the model of those humble ones that Christianity raises up to great destinies…he is the proof that in order to be a good and genuine follower of Christ, there is no need to do great things­ it is enough to have the common, simple and human virtues, but they need to be true and authentic”

Pretty cool, right?  Go check out the rest!



On St. Joseph’s Feast Day, 15 Reasons Dads Matter (#15 Will Shock You!)

Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

St. Joseph is the Patron of Fathers and in honor St Joseph’s Feast Day today (March 19th), I thought it would be good to take some time to remind us all how important dads are.  Check out these great dad facts!  (Teaser:  I saved the most surprising fact for last!)

1.  Fathers’ interaction with babies (engaging in cognitively stimulating activities, emotional warmth, physical care) reduced their infants’ chances of experiencing cognitive delay

2.  Children whose fathers are involved in rearing them (“sensitive and responsive fathering”) fare better on cognitive tests and in language ability than those with less responsive or involved fathers.

3.  Fathers who are involved in their children’s schools and academic achievement, regardless of their own educational level, are increasing the chances their child will graduate from high school, and perhaps go to vocational school, or even to college.

4.  A fathers’ involvement in children’s school activities protects at-risk children from failing or dropping out.

5. Positive father involvement decreased boys’ problem behaviors (especially boys with more challenging temperaments) and better mental health for girls.

6. Fathers who are more involved with their children tend to raise children who experience more success in their career.

7.  Fathers being involved in their children’s lives protects against risk factors that pose harm for children (such as problematic behavior, maternal depression and family economic hardship).

8.  Father involvement is associated with promoting children’s social and language skills.

9.  Involved fathering is related to lower rates of child problem behaviors, including hyperactivity, as well as reduced teen violence, delinquency, and other problems with the law.

10.  Father involvement is associated with positive child characteristics such as increased: empathy, self-esteem, self-control, feelings of ability to achieve, psychological well-being, social competence, life skills, and less sex-stereotyped beliefs.

11.  Children in foster care who have involved fathers are more likely to be reunited with their families and experience shorter stays in foster homes.

12.  Children who grow up in homes with involved fathers are more likely to take an active and positive role in raising their own families. For example, fathers who recall a secure, loving relationship with both parents are more involved in the lives of their infants and more supportive to their wives.

13.  Both men and women who remember having loving, supportive fathers had high life satisfaction and self-esteem.

14.  Educational programs that successfully increased father involvement produced positive changes in children’s behavior.

15.  Most importantly, when it comes to passing our faith and values on to our kids it is critical for fathers to take the lead. When mom and dad are regular churchgoers, 33% of their children will be regular churchgoers and 41% will at least attend irregularly.  BUT SHOCKINGLY WHEN DAD ALONE IS A CHURCHGOER, FAITH RETENTION RATE ARE EVEN HIGHER!  It turns out 38% of children with irregular churchgoing mothers but active fathers grow up to attend church regularly and 44% of children with non-active churchgoing moms but faithful dads grow up to go to church regularly.

Obviously that doesn’t mean moms shouldn’t go to church with their families, but it does mean that the more committed and active dads are, the more likely it is that the children will follow his lead with regard to faith and values even when mom isn’t involved.  By contrast, if the father is an irregular churchgoer and the mother regular, only 3 percent of the children will subsequently become regulars themselves, while a further 59 percent will become irregulars. Thirty-eight percent will be lost.  LIKEWISE if the father is non-practicing and mother regular, only 2 percent of children will become regular worshipers, and 37 percent will attend irregularly. Over 60 percent of their children will be lost completely to the church!

The bottom line?  Dads matter. A lot.  For more thoughts on ways to be a great, involved, faithful dad, check out Parenting with Grace (especially our “Dad’s Da Man!” chapter) and Then Comes Baby (especially our chapters on involved fatherhood).  And Happy Feast of St. Joseph!


(Facts gathered from: Bronte-Tinkew et al., 2008; Chang et al., 2008; Flouri, 2008; Lamb & Lewis, 2004; Lamb & Tamis-Lemonda, 2004; Pleck & Masciadrelli, 2004; Sarkadi et al., 2008; Haug & Warner, 2000)