Who does God want your kids to be?

SONY DSCFor your New Year’s resolution this year, consider a pledge to be yourself and to help your children be themselves as well.

St. Catherine of Siena said, “Be who God meant you to be and you will set the world on fire.”

Those words resonate strongly for parents. On the surface, we seem to have a thousand things to do for our kids—find the cleats, wash the uniforms, drive to practice, supervise homework, make dinner—yet at the same time everything required of us is summed up by St. Catherine. Our main job is to help our children become who God wants them to be. Continue reading

Get a jump on forgiveness, part two

Kids in parkas RGB mgDBGJcWhen our children need forgiveness. When Mike and Ellen learned that their 11-year-old son had been picking on a child with cerebral palsy at school, Ellen says she felt physical pain upon hearing the news. “The principal gave the details of what our son did,” she says. “I was ashamed of my son.” Ellen says that for about a week, she felt such fear about the person her son might grow up to become that she could barely look at him. Then she and her husband decided they needed to look at their son’s action, terrible as it was, as a cry for help. Continue reading

Get a jump on forgiveness

PolarBearPlunge_Flickr_RowdyRiderOn January 1, all over the country, people jump into freezing bodies of water in celebration of a new year. While “polar bear clubs” involve bravado, good cold fun, and sometimes too many Bloody Marys, they also have a more serious side. There is something about our human nature that appreciates a clean slate, a fresh start, a chance to wash away the past and begin again.

Forgiving family members, friends, or colleagues has much in common with jumping into an icy lake. Continue reading

The more the merrier: Celebrating the 12 days of Christmas

angel trumpetmeS1X3YThis year, hand on heart, I saw Christmas decorations for sale on October 1. When I was little, we didn’t even start thinking about Christmas until after Thanksgiving.

My family would spend most of Advent getting ready. We’d shop for a tree, pull decorations down out of the attic, stock up on wrapping paper, and make lists for Santa. Most years the grownups would gather for a Christmas Eve party, and we kids would struggle to stay awake late into the night. Continue reading

A Christmas nudge

nchtduCMy former pastor sent us a Christmas card last year. Inside he wrote, “May Christmas be more than a  pious memory.”

Not your typical Christmas greeting. But thank goodness that someone will issue us that challenge lest, like Will Ferrell’s Ricky Bobby of Talladega Nights, we get overly fixated on baby Jesus to comic effect.

So what did our friend mean about the pious memory? Jesus Christ is not a dead person whose birthday we happen to be celebrating (like how we in Chicago, with its huge Polish population, celebrate with a city holiday on March 6 for the birthday of Casimir Pulaski, Polish hero of the Revolutionary War). Jesus Christ is alive—in fact, alive more powerfully now than when he walked the hills of Galilee. That’s what our faith tells us.

We even call Christ “the King”—meaning he’s the king of Paris and Buenos Aires and Miami Beach. That’s plenty to ponder as Christmas approaches. If we took to heart that Christ is actually king of our town, what might we do differently?

If Pope Francis could chip in some advice, I bet he would suggest we start with the poor, about whom he has been talking nonstop. Continue reading

Follow that teenager, part two

posada23…continued from last week

A fiat to an incomplete understanding. When Dan, father of two, suddenly lost his job, what followed was months of interview after interview, with no offers. His wife, Lisa Marie, says that during this time they struggled to understand why nothing was working out, but they kept their faith and prayed that God would lead them.

Finally, two years after he lost his job, Dan received an offer for one of the first positions he had applied for—a position that he had thought at the time was an excellent fit. Continue reading

Follow that teenager

creche Jesus RGB mhYse6KAdvent is a great time to start thinking about the word fiat. No, not Fiat, the cute little Italian car (although that might be exciting to think about, too). Rather, fiat is the Latin word meaning, “Let it be done.” In the Catholic community, it refers to the young Mary’s response when the angel Gabriel announced she would conceive Jesus: “May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary’s fiat shows her complete willingness to do God’s will, even without fully understanding what it would mean for her.

Mary’s fiat and the high priority the church places on it can give us pause. Was that “yes” really such a big deal? Continue reading

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