Comfort zone? Chuck it

p4 adoptIf you work well with a short to-do list, this is the gospel for you. With perhaps the exception of Jesus’ simple command of “Love one another as I have loved you,” the gospel of “When I was hungry you gave me to eat” provides the most succinct explanation of what we need to do to get to heaven.

But as simple as Jesus makes it sound, feeding the hungry, giving drink to the thirsty, clothing the naked, welcoming the stranger, or visiting the sick and imprisoned may not come easily. Families who live out this gospel explain that it is a conscious choice to do so.

Living the gospel through foster care.  Jim and Judy, foster parents for the past 20 years to dozens of babies detained from the custody of their birth parents due to abuse and neglect, see this gospel as a direct call to action.

“This gospel takes us out of our comfort zone, which can be scary,” Judy says. “I believe we need to take the word of God seriously. Taking in foster children, clothing them, feeding them, giving them shelter has taught my children that the color of skin doesn’t matter—a hungry child is a hungry child. Jesus never told us to come in and sit down. His last words to us were, ‘Go and make disciples.’ And I think the way we do that is by first feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, visiting the sick and imprisoned.”

Bill, who with his wife has adopted two children from foster care, agrees. “Being a foster parent means that every need Jesus speaks of is delivered to your door,” he says. “Foster children arrive hungry and thirsty, with only the clothes on their back. Being foster parents has been both our most difficult and most rewarding response to the gospel. And we’re not so unusual—we’re just a regular family taking this gospel to heart. I think more people could consider foster care as a faith response.”

Living the gospel through service work. Jonathon and his wife Sarah live in an affluent suburb, far from the problems of poverty and homelessness in their city’s center.

“When we bought our house, we felt very torn,” Sarah says. “We wanted a safe place that our children could play and ride their bikes, but in choosing this community, sometimes we feel that our sons have no idea what it means for families to struggle. All the families around us have more than they need.”

To counter this, the two take their 8- and 10-year-old boys to serve at a meal program once a month and help sort clothes at a shelter at the beginning of each season. “The boys really love our days of service,” Sarah says. “I have also noticed that the needs of the poor are more top-of-mind for all of us than they used to be.”

Living the gospel through career choices.Josh and Jessica, a couple in their early 30s with two young children, both work for nonprofits in their city. The couple could be making tens of thousands more in salary by working for businesses rather than nonprofits. The two say that the mission of the organizations they work for is more important than the paycheck.

“I spend about 45 hours a week at work,” Josh says. “That’s a big chunk of my life—so I want to know that my job is in keeping with my values. My organization serves kids who are poor and come from difficult environments, and I know that my work has a direct impact on helping them get the skills they need to get out of poverty some day.”

By Annemarie Scobey, from the pages of At Home with Our FaithClaretian Publications’ print newsletter for parents on nurturing spirituality in the home. Winner of the Best in Class award in 2014 from the Associated Church Press, as well as a First Place General Excellence award from the Catholic Press Association for   four years running. Here’s a sample issue.

We offer very low rates for parish use, as well as our free Moms’ Night Out monthly discussion guides.

And don’t miss our popular single-page parish handouts on handing on the faith, helping kids understand the Mass, Lent, and Advent.

Like us on Facebook and follow Homefaith on Twitter.

Image©istock/John Prescott

Is worrying worth it?

Dock Lake 2 RGB mgPG41OSo much of what we fret over can be characterized as “First World” problems. Families in developing nations are concerned about a clean water supply, when the drought will end, whether their children will get an education beyond age 10. Yet here we sit, concerned about whether our child will make the A or B select soccer team, whether they’ll get into the right college, whether our powder room looks dated. Use these three questions to decide if your current worry is worth the time and effort you are giving it. Continue reading

The sounds of silence

Silence_iStock_JoshuaHodgePhotographyThe visiting priest spoke fondly in his homily about his growing up. Then he said, “Aren’t we all so lucky to have such great, loving families?” My husband and I glanced at each other quizzically. Our parish domestic violence ministry is growing steadily; the divorce group is going strong, as is the Alcoholics Anonymous meeting. That makes us just like any other parish. Many in the pews were doubtless thinking, “I’m happy for you, Father, but that’s not quite my experience.”

I know countless people raised by alcoholics, some of whom as kids never brought their friends home because of what dreadful scene might unfold. People who have brothers and fathers in prison. Successful lawyers whose fathers never said one word of approval to them. I have a friend whose paternal grandmother was so hateful toward her that she told my friend, then an adolescent, not long after her father’s funeral, “Your father never loved you.” I know people whose mothers cut them repeatedly with angry, spiteful words, even when they were small children. Physical abuse, sexual abuse, suicide—you don’t have to go far to find any of it. Better that we not pretend that it does not exist. Continue reading

Kids online: It’s a jungle out there

Teenage Girl Victim Of Bullying By Text MessagingWhen Amy, mother of two teen boys and an 11-year-old girl, discovered that children in her daughter’s class were using the social photo-sharing app Instagram inappropriately, she responded by not just taking action for her own daughter, she got all the parents on board.

“The girls were using Instagram as bullying—taking pictures of gatherings that some girls weren’t invited to, and then sending or posting the pictures,” she says. “And the boys were using it to send and post inappropriate pictures.” Continue reading

Don’t be your child’s rescue squad

GirlsSoccer_Flirck_RichardBHA couple years ago, when Jon’s daughter tried out for the local club soccer team, she was placed on the B team. “Kayla had been the star of her rec team the year before,” Jon says. “My wife and I thought this was a huge miss on the club’s part.” Jon knew the club’s director and called him to ask that Kayla be given a chance to play on the A team. Feeling pressured, the director did as Jon asked, and Kayla landed on the A squad.

Now, looking back on the season, Jon feels that he made a poor decision asking to have his daughter moved. Continue reading

Why are we throwing a fit about crying rooms?

crying baby RGBdKTlW4Since most of us have experienced the crying room at some point in our churchgoing careers, consider what U.S. Catholic’s Molly Jo Rose has to say about this hotly debated parish space. Please take the survey after the article.

On a scale of one to 10, my kid goes to 11. At age 4, he’s high energy, high intelligence, and often highly challenging. I love everything about my little wild man until Sunday morning comes and we’re at Mass and everyone’s staring at me like I brought an ape into the room. Continue reading

The inner work of working out

runner womanBring spirituality into your exercise routine by approaching your half hour on the elliptical, track, or yoga mat with intention. Consider putting down the earphones in an effort to listen to your own soul and the message of God.

“Rather than seeing your body as something you have to ignore or get around in order to move forward spiritually, you can begin to look for ways to bring the two together,” writes Mary DeTurris Poust in Everyday Divine: A Catholic Guide to Active Spirituality (Alpha). Continue reading


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,953 other followers