Tag Archives: Parenting

Fatherhood 101: Raising Catholic Kids @ LovingTheChurch.com

A Father's Guide to Keeping Your Children CatholicThis week at LovingTheChurch.com, I share some of the ground rules Krista and I have focused on in raising our kids Catholic – Fatherhood 101: Raising Catholic Kids

Fatherhood can be very challenging but raising Catholic kids is the primary responsibility of every Catholic father. I can’t give what I don’t have. Living the Catholic Faith is extremely important and takes a “daily” effort. Here are a few simple ways that Krista and I do that.

May God bless you and keep you.

*The photo this week is of my sister, Maria, and her family.

Parenthood and The Culture of Life @ LovingTheChurch.com

Raising Children in the Culture of LifeThis week at LovingTheChurch.com I reflect on the relationship between Parenthood and The Culture of Life.

Culture begins at home. We live in what Blessed John Paul II called The Culture of Death. As a Catholic, and as a parent, I am called to be a sower of The Culture of Life.

So how do I do that?

The Church gives us the answer, and that is the focus of this week’s reflection – Parenthood and The Culture of Life.

May God bless you and keep you!

The Divine Mercy: A Practical Application for Fathers @ LovingTheChurch.com

The Divine Mercy and FatherhoodThis week at LovingTheChurch.com, The Divine Mercy: A Practical Application for Fathers.

In this post, I reflection on the message of Divine Mercy and how it can be practically applied to fatherhood.

Remember this coming Sunday is Divine Mercy Sunday.

May God bless you and keep you.

All Things St. Joseph

Solemnity of Saint Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin MaryOn the Solemnity of St. Joseph, husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary I thought it appropriate to pay tribute to my patron saint and the patron of this Average “Catholic” Joe blog.

Joseph passes through the Gospel without our hearing him utter as much as a single word. He is not on record as having written a single line. None of the things he did seem to have exceeded the limits of the most common actions. He appears to have been – to use an overworked modern expression – a man without a message….

His figure could, in a certain sense then, appear to the eyes or in the estimation of some as that of the man-in-the-street, so ordinary that little could usefully be said of him tho those who would come after. Those who think in this way are perhaps to be found among the regrettably too many who nowadays employ in their judgment inadequate criteria having only short term values. They make their assessments by following some conventional guidelines which are based more on appearance than on reality, more on popular opinion than on absolute and true values. In other words, more importance is placed on worldly rankings than on supernatural criteria. People are in consequence judged not for what they are, not even for what good they have done but only by certain ‘achievements’ which, it has been previously decided, are to be classified as meritorious or worth recognizing with acclaim.

It is not surprising then, that using such fashionable criteria with little or no supernatural dimension to them and in general lacking in any depth, the figure of Joseph is a little hazy and indistinct, and apparently deficient in personality. Men of our time do not see the figure of Joseph as sufficiently interesting to consider it worth a more detailed examination. With such criteria an unexciting man, a village craftsman who never seems to have made an utterance of any importance, who never made anything worth preserving, could be quite respectable and a good man. But life is too short for us to reflect on all the good men there have been in the world. There are more urgent, more useful, more necessary and more important things to get on with.

By the world’s standards, that God chose this man to take custody of the two greatest treasures – Jesus and Mary – who have ever been on earth, does not count for much. This can certainly be one of the reasons which allows one confidently to assert that such criteria are of this world and consequently superficial. For this very reason such criteria will always fall short of practical usefulness for a christian who really is what his name indicates – a disciple of Christ. A disciple of Christ can never accept anything at its face value….

For a christian who believes in Jesus Christ, who believes that Jesus is true God and true Man, that God choose Joseph as Our Lady’s spouse and the legal father of Jesus, is sufficient reason for him to feel that perhaps Joseph was not, after all, such an ordinary man as he seems.

Joseph of Nazareth, pgs 13-16

Thus Fr. Federico Suarez begins his masterful work on the life of our beloved patron, St. Joseph.

My mother, from an early age, instilled in me a great love for and devotion to St. Joseph. Being the son of a craftsman, and a craftsman myself, I quickly grew to love St. Joseph the Worker, an attribute of St. Joseph of such importance that it merits a feast day of its own on May 1.

Unlike my patron, I am not the model of “few words” nor have I been, even remotely, as ready to do what the Father asks of me. Yet, at least now, I try to imitate him, to learn from him.

Here are 7 things St. Joseph is teaching me:

  1. The extraordinary is found in the ordinary – I have to make the best of what abilities God has given me. It is not necessary for me to “shine” before men, but to be able to give an account to God for the talents He has given me.
  2. Silence is golden – St. Joseph shows me that there is a silence which is beneficial. It is a silence that is not preoccupied with self or “other” things, but rather a silence fully occupied with God and His will, a silence that is focused on the interior life, a silence that listens.
  3. Authenticity is found in acceptance – I’m just another “bozo” on the bus. I don’t have to strive to be more important than I am. I shouldn’t wish to be, or appear to be, other than who I am. I must strive to avoid being fake and accept who I am.
  4. Pursue “true” justice – St. Joseph is called in Scripture a just man, i.e. he acted with justice. I have to give to each person what is his due, this includes God. Therefore, I strive to acknowledge that all I have, all I am, I have received from God. Strive becomes the active word here, I fall short daily, but I strive.
  5. Before I act I should reflect – Right solutions are not arrived at “on impulse, on a hunch, or on an instinctive or precipitate reaction…He reflects who really wants to find a solution or longs to do what he ought” (pgs 60-61).
  6. Chastity is necessary, especially in marriage – The Catechism of Catholic Church states:

    2337 Chastity means the successful integration of sexuality within the person and thus the inner unity of man in his bodily and spiritual being. Sexuality, in which man’s belonging to the bodily and biological world is expressed, becomes personal and truly human when it is integrated into the relationship of one person to another, in the complete and lifelong mutual gift of a man and a woman.

    The virtue of chastity therefore involves the integrity of the person and the integrality of the gift.

    In marriage, the sexual instinct is not given free rein. Too many in this modern age are of the opinion that “all is fair game” in the bedroom of the married couple. St. Joseph, and the Church, teaches me that respect for my wife, makes necessary the proper use of our sexuality. It cannot become a means of purely selfish gratification.

    If respect is lost, both for oneself and for one’s spouse, love will begin to die at the hands of an egoism which seeks only personal gratification. A man, even when married, has always to be master of his instincts and not ever at their mercy. – Joseph of Nazereth, pg. 74

  7. Fatherhood demands the complete gift of self – This is never easy for me, but necessary. St. Joseph is the model. He shows me that fatherhood doesn’t mean just making sure the bills are paid, the kids have college funds, nor that the family is best-dressed, best-fed, best-housed. He shows me that fatherhood, first and foremost, entails spiritual headship. I have to strive to be a virtuous man. I have to be the living, breathing model of faith, hope, and charity for my family. I have to show them that true happiness is found in self-denial rather than self-assertion. Again, this isn’t easy for me. It can become “all about me” rather quickly. What is important, in those moments, is that I am able to admit that I was wrong and make amends. I must be in the business of trying.

In closing, I’d like to share a prayer to St. Joseph that is important to me.

Act of Consecration to St. Joseph
O dearest St. Joseph, I consecrate myself to your honor and give myself to you, that you may always be my father, my protector and my guide in the way of salvation. Obtain for me a greater purity of heart and fervent love of the interior life. After your example may I do all my actions for the greater glory of God, in union with the Divine Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. O Blessed St. Joseph; pray for me, that I may share in the peace and joy of your holy death. Amen.

May St. Joseph be with you and your family and lead you ever closer to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Father-Daughter Time!

Father-Daughter Time My 3-year old daughter loves me!

I know that because she loves to tell me that throughout the day…everyday.

And I absolutely love that!

I take my role as “father” very seriously.

I know that my daughter needs me. She needs my affirmation, empathy, confidence, courage, friendship, guidance, and, most importantly, my love. She needs me to be a model of faith and fidelity. I must show her God’s love. The Catechism of the Catholic Church affirms this:

2222 Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons. Showing themselves obedient to the will of the Father in heaven, they educate their children to fulfill God’s law.

It’s hard to constantly keep all of this in mind. I get busy with work, obligations, things around the house, and just everyday life.

It is for this reason that my wife and I, early on, agreed on the importance of “dedicated” time with our children, both together and individually. My daughter and I look forward to Father-Daughter Time.

We do all kinds of fun things – play at the park, watch movies, play doll house, go for walks, have father-daughter dinners, or whatever else her little heart desires (within limits of course).

I firmly believe that these times together will help to shape the woman she one day becomes. She needs me in her life.

Meg Meeker, in her book Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters beautifully explains this:

When she is a baby, her eyes will search for your face. Her ears will listen for your voice and everything inside her will need to answer only one question, “Daddy, are you here?” If you are there, her body will grow better. Her IQ will start to rise, her development will track where it is supposed to, but more important, she will realize that life is good because you love her. You are her introduction to love; you are love itself…If she knows that you are there, dependable and full of love for her, you will have taught her this great lesson: Life is good. Good men help make it so. (pg.232-233)

The family, as the domestic church, must be the school of love. I have an obligation, as a father, to teach my children the lesson of love through the practice of self-denial and the complete gift of self. I have to lay down my life for them.

Sometimes, as is the case with Father-Daughter time, that gift of self is utterly enjoyable. I wouldn’t trade it for the world. She is my precious little girl, and I always want to be there for her.

God is truly good to me, as His son. I, in turn, want to share that goodness with my children.

God please give me the grace to be the father you desire me to be. Amen.

Just a closing note: In addition to Father-Daughter time, I have Father-Son time, whole family time, and my wife and I still go out on dates just by ourselves. Time spent with the family, individually or as a whole, is always time well spent.

Becoming Like A Child

Trusting in GodKids long for affirmation.

As a parent, I have to be mindful of this need. Whether by commenting on a picture they are coloring or lifting them up when they successfully complete a lap around the yard I strive to fulfill their need for attention and praise.

Whenever life gets hectic or I “zone out” on some project and forget about this need, they come in search of it. Both of our children will come and try to show Daddy what they are doing or call out to me to take notice. They generally are not satisfied until I look and make some comment of approval or tell them how awesome they are.

Isn’t this how our relationship with God should be? Shouldn’t we be running to Him seeking His delight?

We know that Christ demands child-like faith of us (Matt 18:3). We know that we are to “ask…seek…knock” (Matt 7:7), but how often do we actually do it?

I find that if I’m not turning to the Father in prayer on a daily basis I forget my need for God. I become self-reliant, the poster boy for self-will run riot. It never ceases to amaze me.

I have to be like a child, constantly looking back to see if Daddy is watching me, approving of what I’m doing, and leading me on.

In prayer I ask for His Will to be done in my life. I make a decision to turn my will over to the care of God. But decisions require action. I have to spot-check myself throughout the day.

Is this God’s will or my will? Will this please God my Father?

As I run this lap around the yard of life, I should constantly be looking to the Father for His approval, for His delight. I must become who He has created me to be. With Jesus I pray:

Not my will, but thine, be done (Luke 22:42).

One of my favorite lines comes from the movie, Chariots of Fire when Eric Liddell says:

I believe God made me for a purpose, but he also made me fast. And when I run I feel His pleasure.

Today, may I seek the Father’s pleasure.

Working With Kids

Working From HomeI work for HIS Installation, Inc., a company owned and operated by our family. I am the “do-it-all” guy in the business. I handle the marketing, recruiting, human resource management, project management, AR/AP management, IT management, and more. We’ve set up our company so that I get to do a lot of my work from home. That’s a real plus for me. I love being home. My lovely wife also works from home. So we get a lot of “we’re all in the house at the same time” time.

However, one of the challenges (and blessings) for us is that we have two small children. One is six and the other is three. They are wonderful kids and working from home allows us to be with them. The problem is “work time” does have a lot of meaning to them. How do you explain to a 6-year old that working on a payroll analysis is more important than playing cars with him, or to a 3-year old that the conference call you have to be on is more pressing than getting that dress back on her baby doll? While I do my best to help them understand, kids tend to suffer from what my wife and I call short-term memory loss. They say “okay Daddy, just come play with me when you’re done” then a minute later, “Daddy can you come play with me now?”

So what’s a dad to do? Well I say a lot of foxhole prayers – Please God, help my children to understand that what I’m doing is important!” or Please God, let my children suddenly get the value of silence! Then I try negotiating – Okay, Daddy will come play in one “Dinosaur Train”… (time is measured in our house by TV shows). Then I opt for “intense focus” you know…kids crawling all over you and your chair while you intensely look at the computer screen, typing away.

All of these efforts often seem in vain and I find myself becoming stressed and ill. Yet, what I have found to be most effective is just taking a couple minutes to see what they are doing, to listen to them, to smile at them, to share with them. Kids are cheap…they really don’t want that much. The attention they crave is that simple reassurance that Daddy loves me.

As I type this I hear my son coming down the stairs. I know that he will come directly to me. He just wants me to tell him “Good morning”, to hold him for a minute and then he’s off…his day has begun. Now don’t get me wrong….he will be back. But for the moment it’s enough.

Aren’t we this way too? Whether at work or at home, don’t we want to be affirmed? Don’t we want to be praised and appreciated? Don’t we, at times, run around saying “See what I did!”? It lies in our very nature – Man was made to love and to be loved, to affirm and to be affirmed. We find that perfect love, that authentic affirmation in a God-oriented life. As Fulton Sheen said,

…once the true goal is found in God alone, everything is ordered by the law of love. The dominant passion, now, is to perserve a loving relationship – first with God Himself and then, as a sequence of this, with family, friends, associates and even enemies, for love of God. The world is no longer filled with people and things on whom we have projected our selfish will; it is crowded with creatures who are precious and delectable because each one of them can, somehow, advance us on our journey towards our Goal, Who is our God. (The Way to Happiness, pg 108).

This advancement comes through the practice of virtue. Patient people don’t teach me patience. Two small children demanding my attention when it is least convenient do.

To those of you with little ones – Enjoy them while you got them! We must see them as an essential means in advancing “us on our journey towards our Goal, Who is our God.”