Dr. Janet Smith Shows Real “COURAGE”


Earlier this month, there was a tremendous conference put together by moral theologian Janet Smith and Courage (a faithful Catholic org supporting people living with same-sex attraction) called Love One Another As I Have Loved You: Welcoming and Accompanying Our Brothers and Sisters with Same Sex Attraction.

The conference has generated a fair amount of public comment, and some of it has been quite critical  (see here and especially here).  Dr. Janet Smith has been ably and charitably responding to these comments, most notably in OSV.

As you will see if you click the links, most of the controversy–such as it is–surrounds whether certain orthodox Catholics who are public about their faithful struggle to live chastely with same-sex attraction should have been included.  In particular, the objections center around these particular individual’s participation in something called the “spiritual friendship project” which, though intended to be a genuinely faithful response, presents some new approaches to the conversation and is sometimes portrayed as contradicting the classic ministry model advocated by Courage.

I was, unfortunately, unable to attend the conference because of another speaking engagement, but I have spoken with several people who did attend and were genuinely blessed by the conference.  Moreover, I have a passionate interest in this topic and am incredibly grateful to Janet for helping to put on this event. I’ve closely followed the post-game discussions, pro and con, and I have to say that, based upon what I’ve heard and read, it seems to me that this conference succeeded tremendously at the kind of dialog that other groups merely pay lip service to. 

This conference included a healthy variety of voices that were all at least genuinely attempting orthodoxy. Whether or not others would judge them as successful in the attempt is beside the point. Despite the significant difference in perspectives, not one person at this conference was attempting to stick a finger in the Church’s eye. There was a rich, authentic diversity of opinions expressed by people who were all honestly striving to be faithful sons and daughters of the Church. It’s one thing to disagree with some of the comments or opinions expressed, but to stand in judgment of any of the people who participated in this event strikes me as churlish. We can’t just keep saying the same damn things the same damn way to the same damn people and expect to make any headway. No, we can’t and shouldn’t even attempt to change doctrine, but freely debating best approaches to pastoral practice in an environment that assumes orthodoxy is a beautiful thing. 

I’ve absolutely read some things that were said at the event that made me uncomfortable, but I’ve read nothing that was heterodox or advocating an anti-church agenda. When it comes to discussing this particular issue with a bunch of Catholics, that’s pretty much a miracle. And, you know what, if I hadn’t read at least a few things that made me uncomfortable (and still represented a genuine attempt at orthodoxy) I would have judged the event a failure. If want to be confirmed in what we already know, we can just stay home and talk to ourselves. It would be just as effective.

In the midst of all the post-conference discussions, I just wanted to take a moment to publicly thank my friend, Dr. Janet Smith, for her truly courageous efforts to advance this incredibly important dialog in a faithful and creative direction. Her work in this area is a much needed balance to the often heretical and destructive conversations going on in other corners of the Church. I hope she will keep it up, I hope the faithful will give this effort the support it so richly deserves, and I hope I can be there next time.

“Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome”–An Autopsy on the Death of Religious Faith

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Reba Riley’s memoir, Post-Traumatic Church Syndrome: A Memoir of Humor and Healing describes her loss of religious faith in her early 20’s and her subsequent attempt to assemble a meaningful spiritual life for herself.

I was struck by her interview with the Religion News Service because at the time I read it, I had just finished writing my paper for the journal to be published at the conclusion of the World Meeting of Families at which my wife and I are both speaking.  Riley’s interview read like a case study of the major problem I was describing in the paper; Spiritual Ambivalence.

Perpetual Wanderers NOT Seekers

People often call Millennials afflicted with spiritual ambivalence “seekers” but that’s not entirely true.  It would be more accurate to say that they are perpetual spiritual wanderers.  The difference is that seekers want to find a spiritual home, but for the spiritually ambivalent, the idea of landing in one spiritual place is offensive, restricting, and, besides,  completely unnecessary.   Here is how Riley–who claims to have sampled 30 religions by her 30th birthday–puts it.

“I never set out to find a new religion, but rather to face my spiritual injuries and find healing, all the experiences—from Amish to Sweat Lodge to Pentecostals were not only viable; they were essential to rediscovering my faith. The journey would have been impossible without exploring many religious expressions—including, and maybe especially, Scientology. It was so foreign of an experience that it forced me to ponder questions I’d never thought to ask.”

She recounts an experience with a pastor who challenged her assertion that she was Christian.

…a few months ago a pastor was essentially cross-examining my answer to this question [ed note: of whether she was Christian]. After forty-five minutes I gently said, “Sir, it seems like you’re trying to find out if I am Christian enough for you. If you’re asking if I love Jesus, the answer is ‘yes.’ If you’re asking if I follow Jesus, the answer is ‘yes.’ If you’re asking to give me a litmus theology test, I’ll probably fail, because my theology is really quite simple, kinda like Jesus’s: Love God; Love people. Love, period.” He decided I was Christian enough, but it would’ve been okay with me if he hadn’t. 

The spiritually ambivalent like to believe that they have evolved beyond the tribalistic categories of denomination and doctrine but the research strongly suggests that what what is really going on is a deep-seated fear of spiritual commitment–a fear often rooted in the culture of divorce.

Church Trauma or Divorce Trauma?

The research of eminent psychologist of religion,  Dr. Ken Pargament (2011) shows that the kind of spiritual ambivalence Riley describes is rooted in the family; specifically, in the child’s inability to idealize his parents or other adults in authority in his life (teachers, pastors, coaches, etc).  This is often the direct spiritual consequence of divorce.  Of course, all children come to realize, at some point, that adults are fallible, and discovering this is even necessary for a healthy transition to adulthood.  But Pargament’s research shows that if this realization comes too soon or in unwelcome ways–because the adults in children’s lives have, for some reason, been experienced as not credible, unavailable, disconnected, distracted, selfish, out-of-touch, neglectful or abusive–children don’t learn whom they can reliably follow or to whom they can consistently turn for guidance–except themselves.  Ultimately, such a child’s ambivalent attitude toward parental maturity and wisdom is projected onto all institutions charged with helping people find meaning and significance.

Elizabeth Marquardt (2006; 2013) observed a similar dynamic in her groundbreaking work on the spiritual lives of children of divorce.  Even in so-called “good divorces” (i.e., low conflict divorces when the children maintain a good relationship with both parents) children are constantly moving back and forth between two–often, very different–worlds (the mother’s and the father’s).  These “worlds” never come together in any meaningful way except inside the children’s own heads.  Because of this, Marquardt asserts that the majority of adult children of divorce generally struggle with trusting anyone besides themselves to help make sense of life.


My point here is to not question Riley’s sincerity.  I respect the journey she’s on.  Rather, as a professional counselor who practices spiritually-integrated psychotherapy, it’s my to draw from the research and fill in some blanks people in Riley’s position often leave empty.  Without addressing these blindspots perpetual wanderers like Riley will never find true peace as they continue to attribute their genuine spiritual injuries to the wrong sources. Like A Christmas Carol’s  Jacob Marley, they will remain doomed to walk the earth, constantly carrying the chains that bind them and unable to commit to a spiritual home.  I cannot rest, I cannot stay, I cannot linger anywhere….and weary journeys lie before me!”

It is certainly true that religious groups can be petty, nasty, discriminatory and even traumatizing.  I don’t mean to deny anything she may or may not have been through in her experiences with institutional churches.  But the one thing that professional psychologists-of-religion note is that people often misattribute the source of their spiritual wounds.  They point to X situation with pastor Y or co-religionist Z–and those things may have indeed happened and may have indeed been serious.  But what makes these church-based experiences traumatic for some but not others is that many individuals who are traumatized by these experiences have already developed spiritual feet of clay because of pre-existing family traumas that have impacted their spiritual development.  These family traumas often go as unrecognized drivers of spiritual disorders because people fail to make the connection between their relational and spiritual lives–although they are, in fact, deeply connected to and even predictive of each other.

The Plot Thickens

When I began this article I hadn’t seen Riley’s book.  But in light of the above you might imagine that after I read her interview, I said to myself, “There is no way she is not an adult child of divorce.”  I had no idea if that was true, but I did a little digging and found that, in fact, my hypothesis was correct. On page 46 of her book she shares a conversation  in which her mom asks if Riley would have remained in the church of her childhood had her mom and dad hadn’t gotten divorced. Riley states.

“That was not a question I had expected.  Their divorce when I was nineteen changed my life, certainly.  It had broken my ideas about God and family and the world but it’s impact was not a loss of faith:  My grief caused me to dig deeper into faith.  It was only later–when I realized I didn’t, I couldn’t, believe in the primary tenets of Christianity–that I walked away.  And it was the walking away from everything I knew that caused the Breaking (sic).”

Reading this statement through the lens of the available research, it’s clear that the divorce changed everything.  Even Riley admits as much although she fails to appreciate the full spiritual significance of her post-divorce spiritual trauma.  No, the divorce didn’t cause her to immediately run away from her church.  But it left her feeling like she was the only one she could trust to determine “the Truth.”  The spiritual wound caused by her parents divorce t sent her down a path that caused her to reject any spiritual truths  she couldn’t reconcile exclusively via her own personal perspective and limited life experience (and I don’t mean that perjoratively. We ALL have limited experience compared to 2000 years of revelation and human experience).  After her parents’ divorce there was no longer any authority besides herself she could trust; no single system to whom she could make herself vulnerable, besides herself.  She felt trapped by the spiritual home(earlier she states that she felt that the truth did not set her free but “trapped” her)  that lied and said it could keep her safe, and so she left because it is safer to be spiritually homeless than to set yourself for that kind of hurt ever again.

Tiny House

Of course, her parents’ divorce did not result in a loss of faith.  Riley obviously had and has a very strong faith (defined by psychologists as the innate human drive to seek meaning, significance and transcendence) but unless she is willing to address the real trauma, the trauma of her parents’ divorce resulting in an existential fear of spiritual commitment, she will be forced to perpetually deny herself any spiritual home that does not fit within the confines of her own experience–and, in the grand scheme of human experience–that is a tiny home indeed.

Family Life: Cause and Cure

The takeaway, as I have noted before,  is that family life is the largely unappreciated crucible of spirituality.  We note in our book, Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kidsall the literature says that if parents want their children to own their faith as adults, they have to experience their faith as the source of their warmth in their home.  If a faithful family lacks that warmth, then children will see faith as an empty shell that can’t deliver what it promised. And if a faithful family breaks apart, children experience faith–and the security it promises–to be a terrible, hurtful lie that must be avoided at all costs.

The flip side is that parents can do a lot–more than they often think–to positively impact their children’s faith development. Of course our children need to have a personal encounter with Christ for their faith to be authentic, but parents can do a lot to make sure that our children do not live in fear of that encounter.  We can prepare our children to open their hearts to receive Christ fully and make themselves comfortable in a warm and stable spiritual home. And we can do that by helping them experience our faith as the source of authentic comfort, warmth, and stability in our family home.  For more information on how YOU can raise children who know how to find the truth they are seeking, check out a copy of Discovering God Together:  The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids.


You CAN Raise Faithful Kids: Discover the SCIENCE of Passing on the FAITH!

A review of Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids

Image via Shutterstock

Image via Shutterstock

Dr. Greg and Lisa Popcak’s new book, Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids will make you feel like it’s possible to guide your kids to heaven.  

The Popcaks begin their book with the question, “How do we share our faith in a way that will make sense to our kids and stick with them for a lifetime?” The rest of the book is spent breaking down this overwhelming question into easy to follow spiritual steps. Practical tips for creating faith-based rituals and routines within our homes, ideas for inspiring “discipleship hearts” in our children, and simple strategies for strengthening the prayer lives of our families — both as a whole and as individuals — are just a few examples of the Popcaks’ proactive approach to family spirituality. I especially liked the Popcaks’ clear, step-by-step explanation of how to instruct children of all ages in the development of their personal prayer lives.

The Popcaks’ experience as Catholic counselors is evident in the convincing teaching techniques they present throughout the book, but especially in the chapter entitled “For Families with Particular Struggles: Faith Development in Divorced and Single-Parent Households.” Yes, it is possible to raise faithful children even in families that are struggling!  CONTINUE READING




Learning Love from My Cross: Men, Emotions, and Healing.

A Catholic Exchange article by my colleague, Pastoral Solutions Institute clinical pastoral counseling associate, Dave McClow, M.Div, LMFT.


Every man is wounded or experiences suffering.  Because we are created for a communion of persons, suffering and mental illness seem like they are always a failure of being loved, or giving love, or both.  Most suffering is from disruptions in this communion of persons either with God or on the human plane.  The separation might be physical like death, spiritual as in mortal sin, or psychological due to abuse or neglect.

Translating the Devil’s or Diablo’s name and Satan’s name will be very psychologically insightful in understanding the disruptions in the communion of persons!  Diablo can be translated as “the separator,” and Satan can be translated as “the accuser.”  The Devil has been a separator from the beginning, driving a wedge between the man and the woman, and between them and God.  Separation is suffering and death!  It goes against how we are designed.

Satan accuses God of not being a good Father.  He convinces Eve that God is withholding something—the knowledge of good and evil.  Of course they eat and are ashamed and try to cover themselves.  When God shows up, they take their hiding to the bushes.  Interestingly, God does not ask the typical parental question, “What did you do?”  He first asks a relational (communion of persons) question, “Where are you?”  But Adam and Eve never really get around to answering that question (so I guess the politicians come by it honestly!).  Instead, they “accuse” each other and God of being the problem.

Back to shame: shame is always created in relationship.  A silly example is that we feel more stupid if we trip on the sidewalk and someone sees us, than when no one sees us.  With shame the accusations are not simply external; they can spread like wildfire internally as well:  “I’m worthless,”  “I can’t be forgiven,”  “I’m a mistake,”  “I don’t deserve love,” etc.  They are Satan’s and Diablo’s shame.  Following his lead, we accuse ourselves or others and separate ourselves from God and others.

Many of us are trained out of knowing our emotions due to our experiences.  This training is also in Diablo’s playbook for dysfunctional families.  “Don’t talk about real problems,” “Don’t trust anyone,” and “Don’t have feelings” are rules resulting from the wounds we received from what our parents did or didn’t do, or from our siblings, bullies, or abusers.  Not dealing with our broken hearts or our emotions can wreak havoc… CONTINUE READING

8 Signs of An Emotional Affair

Photo via Shutterstock.com Used with permission

Photo via Shutterstock.com Used with permission

On More2Life Radio, we’ve been fielding a lot of questions about infidelity, emotional affairs, and so-called “work spouses.”  The topic has been especially hot with the news stories of hackers releasing the personal details of 32 million users of several popular adultery websites.

In light of this, PsychCentral has an excellent article describing 8 signs that you, or someone you love might be having an emotional affair. Emotional infidelity is best understood as the tendency for a married person to turn to a person outside the marriage for emotional support.  Although most people think of emotional infidelity as involving a person of the opposite sex, Lisa and I argue that it could just as easily be someone of the same sex.  Certainly there is nothing wrong with having even deep friendships outside the marriage, but because marriage is a sacrament–and moreover, a vocational sacrament–it has to be our most intimate relationship because it is the primary relationship God has ordained to be the engine of our personal and spiritual growth.  ANY other relationship that distracts from our marriage having pride-of-place is arguably emotionally adulterous.

Regardless, because people often have a hard time discerning when they have crossed the line with a relationship outside the marriage, the following 8 signs can be a good indicator of whether your extra-marital friendships with either sex are appropriate.

8 Signs of an Emotional Affair

  • Contact outside of “friendly” hours.  If you find yourself communicating at questionable hours, this may be a sign.  Most friends don’t text at 2am.
  • You talk about the difficulties in your current relationship.  You may have a close friend or two that you share your frustrations about your partner with.  However, if you find yourself sharing all of your problems and concerns with this “special person”, you may be crossing the line.
  • He/she dominates your thoughts.  You think about him/her when you wake up, when you fall asleep, and mostly anytime in between.  It’s important to remember that most affairs don’t start off in the bedroom, they start in the mind.
  • He/she becomes the first person you call.  You get some exciting news or you’ve had an awful day.  Who do you call first, him/her or your partner?
  • He/she “gets” you.  You’re treading on thin ice when you start to feel like he/she understands better than your partner.  This usually leads to increased communication with him/her and less communication with your partner.  We are more likely to communicate with someone who we feel “gets” us than someone who does not.
  • Spending more time with him/her.  If you find yourself finding excuses or creating more reasons to spend time with him/her, this may be a sign.  However, spending more time does not just mean physical time.  If you are spending more time texting, emailing, or video chatting, this may be a sign as well.
  • You start comparing your partner to him/her.  Do you ever find yourself talking to your partner and you think to yourself, “he/she wouldn’t respond like this” or “he/she would be more attentive?”  Are you often out with your partner and think, “if I were with him/her, I’d be having more fun?”  This type of thinking is dangerous because it aut0matically makes him/her the good one and your partner the bad one.
  • You lie.  Yes, lying by omission counts.  So whether you leave out meeting him/her for lunch, deleting messages from your phone, or you just deny communicating with him/her at all – a lie is a lie.  If you have to lie, chances are you have something to hide; and if you have something to hide, chances are you know it’s not okay.   READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE AT PSYCHCENTRAL

If you find yourself answering “True” to ANY of these 8 signs, you may very well be having an emotional affair.  At the very least, you are short-changing your marriage.

What’s the Answer?

The solutions is two-fold.  First, the emotional cheater is going to have to start setting some appropriate boundaries on the extra-marital relationship.  If the relationship is truly going to be “just friends” then your spouse should be included in it.  You should be willing to share your conversations, invite your spouse along, talk openly about the time you spend with this other person and, most importantly, be willing to give much more time and energy to your marriage than to your outside relationships.  Which leads to the second point.

You need to work on your marriage. Ending the “affair” isn’t enough.  You need to find a way to get the lion’s share of support from your spouse that you have, up to now, been getting from your practical “significant other.”   Many people I speak to despair of ever being able to do this.  If you feel this way, it is time to seek some new resources and skills.  A program like Retrouvaille (a weekend retreat with 6 follow-up sessions for couples who are struggling in their relationships) can at least begin to open the doors to communication.  It isn’t a substitute for therapy, but it is a good start and an excellent complement.   Another resource could be my book When Divorce Is Not An Option:  How to Heal Your Marriage and Nurture Lasting Love .  It is NOT just a book for couples who are struggling, but rather for any couple that wants to learn the 8 habits that separate truly happy couples from those who are either struggling or just getting by.  It offers research-based advice in the context of our Catholic faith and spirituality and offers ways for you to grow closer to each other and to God through your marriage.

Of course, there are times when more individual attention is required, in those times, I hope you will feel comfortable reaching out to me through the Pastoral Solutions Institute Catholic Tele-Counseling Practice.  I and my associates have over a 90% success rate with marriage counseling and we are here to help if you need some extra support and skill.  Feel free to visit my website or call 740-266-6461 to make an appointment.

Getting Unstuck

Emotional infidelity is a common marital trap, but your marriage doesn’t have to get stuck in that trap forever.  We can help you find ways to not only leave the emotional affair behind, but also learn how to fall in love all over again–with your spouse.

Hackers Post 32 Million Names of Affair Site Users.

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Major news agencies are reporting that hackers have fulfilled their promise to release the names of 32 million subscribers of a popular website whose motto is “Life is short, Have an Affair.”

While it may be difficult for many to conjure a lot of sympathy for the people who have subscribed to these sites, I have worked with 100’s of couples who are fighting their way back from the pain of infidelity and I know that this latest development, while not entirely unwelcome, is nothing to laugh or crow about.  Infidelity hurts.  It is sad.  It is traumatic.  It is, unfortunately, common.  About 25% of marriage suffer infidelity.  There are going to be a lot of people hurting on a lot of levels once this information gets wider circulation.

The Good News.

The good news is that there are effective ways to heal the hurt cause by infidelity or even attempted infidelity.  That said, couples should NEVER try to recover from infidelity on their own.  Why?  Because people who cheat tend to have very poor insight into the causes of infidelity.  Most of the time, they simply want to say, “Look.  It’s over.  Let’s just move on.”  The problem is always deeper however.  For many, infidelity is a way to self-medicate for an untreated depression.  For others, infidelity is the result of a longstanding tendency to avoid conflict, fail to advocate for needs effectively, stuff their feelings, and, instead of taking responsibility for working on the relationship, blaming their partner for just “not getting” them.  These are all problems that, without proper treatment, will either continue to lead to long-term marital dissatisfaction, greater depression, or subsequent occasions of infidelity driven by a faulty attempt to resolve the ongoing underlying problems.

Where to Begin?

A great resource for infidelity recover is the book   Getting Past the Affair by Donald Baucom.  It is a research-based step-by-step outline to help couples know what they need to look at to heal.  Another helpful book is my title, When Divorce is NOT An Option which looks at the 8 habits that research shows separate what marriage therapists call Marriage Masters from Marriage Disasters.  These habits can be taught to any couple and can lead both to deep healing and a much more rewarding relationship.

Retrouvaille can also be a tremendous support.  It is a program that helps struggling couples begin to trust and communicate effectively once again.  Even so, couples will want to do more than some self-help reading and peer support.  They will need counseling.  Make sure that you find a Marriage-Friendly marital therapist.  Marriage Friendly marital therapists have actually received specific training and supervision in marital therapy (many therapists who claim to practice marital therapy DO NOT have appropriate training or supervision in the latest, most effective approaches to marital counseling) and they believe that marriage is worth saving.  Typically, marriage-friendly therapist have success rates well over 90% compared to other therapists which tend to hover around the low 30%.

If you are looking for faith-based marriage-friendly therapy, I would encourage you to contact me to learn more about how the Pastoral Solutions Institute’s Catholic tele-counseling practice can help you and your spouse find marital healing.  We practice both couple and solo-spouse marital therapy (and although couple’s counseling is more desirable,  is still remarkably effective when conducted by a therapist trained to do it) in a faith-integrated context.  You can learn more at our website or contact us for a free evaluation by calling 740-266-6461.

The Bottom Line

Research shows that most couples suffer for 4-6 years from the onset of a problem to the time they seek help.  Don’t wait.  If you are suffering from the pain of infidelity there is hope, there is healing.


“Female Viagra” Released Despite Dangers. What YOU Need to Know.


Image Shutterstock

Image Shutterstock

Sprout Phamaceuticals is touting the development of  a “female Viagara”, brand name Addyi (generic, Flibanserin). If it were a better drug, this could be a tremendous help to a lot of couples. Unfortunately, there are significant reasons for concern.

The problem is that it is hard to argue that the very modest benefits of the drug (4.4 satisfying sexual experiences per month on the drug versus 3.7 satisfying sexual experiences without it) justify the risk of the significant side effects which include dangerously low blood pressure and fainting, especially when used in combination with alcohol or with certain other common medications including antifungals used to treat yeast infections. Other common side effects include nausea, drowsiness and dizziness.

At her Catholic Patheos blog, Seasons of Grace, Kathy Schiffer has an excellent post on everything you need to know about Addyi and, more importantly, a much more effective approach to treating the very real problem of female Inhibited Sexual Desire Disorder.  It’s a terrific piece and I encourage you to check it out!

AND to learn more about effective, faithful solutions to a multitude of sexual problems, I invite you to pick up a copy of Holy Sex! The Catholic Guide to Toe-Curling, Mind-Blowing, Infallible Loving.



Science Says, “Want Happiness? Go to Church!”

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Image Shutterstock. Used with permission.

Science endorses church attendance?!?  Atheists’ heads explode in 3…2…1…

From the Washington Post

A new study suggests that joining a religious group could do more for someone’s “sustained happiness” than other forms of social participation, such as volunteering, playing sports or taking a class.

A study in the American Journal of Epidemiology by researchers at the London School of Economics and Erasmus University Medical Center in the Netherlands found that the secret to sustained happiness lies in participation in religion.

“The church appears to play a very important social role in keeping depression at bay and also as a coping mechanism during periods of illness in later life,” Mauricio Avendano, an epidemiologist at LSE and an author of the study, said in a statement. “It is not clear to us how much this is about religion per se, or whether it may be about the sense of belonging and not being socially isolated.”

Researchers looked at four areas: 1) volunteering or working with a charity; 2) taking educational courses; 3) participating in religious organizations; 4) participating in a political or community organization. Of the four, participating in a religious organization was the only social activity associated with sustained happiness, researchers found.  CONTINUE READING

 For more information of raising faithful, HAPPY kids, check out our lastest book (coming August 2015 and now available for pre-order) Discovering God Together: The Catholic Guide to Raising Faithful Kids



CONFIRMED–HISTORIC Record Breaking Attendance at 2015 World Meeting of Families


Today on More2Life Radio, we were blessed by a visit from Dr. Mary Beth Yount, the Director of Content and Programming at the World Meeting of Families.  In addition to telling our listeners about the event itself, she revealed the BREAKING NEWS that this year’s World Meeting of Families has over 15,000 people currently registered for the week long congress, making the 2015 World Meeting the highest attended World Meeting of Families ever!

That number is expected to climb by several more thousand over the next 40 days leading up to the event. In addition to the many thousands of people registered for the week-long congress featuring dynamic speakers and activities, organizers are expecting that a crowd of 3 Million people will attend the papal mass which is being held atop the so-called “Rocky Steps” leading up to the Philadelphia Museum of Art.   In anticipation of the record-breaking attendance, local hotels have made additional rooms available to accommodate guests.

The World Meetings of Families was instituted by St. John Paul the Great in 1994 and is held every 3 years in various locations throughout the world.  This September’s meeting will feature many internationally-recognized speakers including my wife, Lisa, and I, on the topic, See How They Love One Another:  The Family and the Faith.   Lisa and I will also be broadcasting More2Life Radio LIVE from Booth 206 at the Congress.  In a recent surprise, I was also honored to be asked by Bishop John McIntyre to introduce Word on Fire’s Bishop-Elect Robert Barron at his Opening Keynote Address to the Congress on Tuesday, September 22, 2015, titled Living as the Image of God.

I’m likewise pleased to be able to say that many regular contributors to More2Life Radio will be also be featured presenters  at the World Meeting including Damon Owens, Dr. Joseph White, and friend-of-the-show, Christopher West.  And. of course there will be many other wonderful speakers as well,  including members of the Catholic Patheos community, including Simcha Fisher and Sue Muldoon.

There’s still time to register for the event.  We’ve saved space for you!   Hope to see you there!

Family Spirituality–Caring for the Heart of Your Home


Spirituality is the heart of our your home.  Are you caring for your family’s “heart health”?  Here’s my latest article for Our Sunday Visitor’s Daily Take.

Are you attending to your family’s heart health?

Your family’s spiritual well-being represents the true heart of your family, the spiritual heart that pumps joy, meaning, and connection into your life as a family and as persons. Experts note that the degree to which your family shares a spiritual life actually predicts the degree of satisfaction you can expect from both your family relationships and life in general. Do you know how to protect your family’s “heart health”?

What is ‘spirituality’ anyway?

Psychologists assert that a healthy spirituality promotes three qualities that are essential for a joyful, meaningful life: transcendencetransformation and integration.

Transcendence refers to times of special connection with God, moments filled with a sense of wonder and awe. Transcendence promotes well-being by reminding us that we are part of “something bigger.” That we are not alone in the world and that each moment of life is packed with divine meaning and purpose.

Transformation refers to our commitment to embrace the changes necessary to become healthier, happier and more fulfilled. For the Christian, authentic transformation is all about embracing God’s plan for our fulfillment in a conscious (versus merely cultural), willing (versus coerced) and whole-hearted (versus grudging) manner.

Finally, Integration refers to spirituality’s power to promote greater peace in our lives — both between us and others and within ourselves. A healthy spirituality compels us to harmonize any conflicts between our beliefs, values and identity, and enables us to live with integrity no matter where or whom we’re with.

Properly understood, “being spiritual” is about becoming fully-formed, vital people who know who we are, what we stand for, where we are going and what we need to do to get there.

Family spirituality: what does it look like?

Families play a critical role in cultivating each member’s spiritual life and all the above benefits that flow from it.Family life is primarily about forming persons — parents and children growing together, learning from each other, supporting one another in living out a shared mission and goals — all of which has to do with spirituality. Without a strong sense of spiritual well-being, families too easily become collections of individuals living under the same roof and sharing a data plan.

Three steps to a ‘heart-healthy’ family

There are three basic activities families can undertake to promote their spiritual well-being.  CONTINUE READING