Book Review: The Choice of the Family by Jean Laffitte

2015, “The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness.”

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I saw this book and picked it up because the title posed an unusual juxtaposition of the words “choice” and “family.” For someone immersed in the regular, secular media, like I am, “choice” is a word associated with abortion, not usually with traditional family structures. This interview with Jean Laffitte, Bishop and Head of the Pontifical Council for the Family, instead aims to show that he sees accurately the challenges facing the family as well as its importance as an authentic path for personal development and holiness, rather than a mere default position that people slip into out of lack of resistance.

The Choice of the Family takes up the call of Pope St. John Paul II’s 1981 encyclical Familiaris Consortio, which said:

“Since God’s plan for marriage and the family touches men and women in the concreteness of their daily existence in specific social and cultural situations, the Church ought to apply herself to understanding the situations within which marriage and the family are lived today, in order to fulfill her task of serving.”

From the opening which goes through Laffitte’s background and his studies at the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family Life, the book highlights that the family is an under-studied and under-recognized force in social life and also how clearly Laffitte sees the struggles facing men and women in family life today.

The Significance of the Family

So often we do not appreciate just how much we receive from our families. The modern age is typically conceived of as comprised of atomized individuals. Yet in actuality, each of us is born into specific constraints, gifts and relations that come from our families. Carl Anderson’s, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus, summarizes it well in his statement in the Introduction:

Each family exists within a living ecology–a unique environment shaped by the dynamism of its members, who present a variety of age, health, maturity, responsibility….No institution in society can shape and, in so many ways, determine a person’s life to the same extent as the man and woman who give one life, and the family with which one shares one’s formative years.”

The family we are born into gives us the foundational relationships in our lives, brings us up in a history of culture and lived experience whether these concepts are consciously acknowledged or not.

Continue reading

My first for the Cardinal Newman Society: Good things coming from Harvard; jives with good work at Catholic Schools

Originally published by Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society This essay regards a topic close to my heart, the criteria for college admissions and the effect those have on students. It was very interesting to … Continue reading

Recalling my first Ash Wednesday, an uncomfortable day

[This essay first ran on Ethika Politika. Full article available there]

My first Lent, I wandered around campus wondering if anyone would notice the smudge on my forehead. I was an undergraduate at the University of Virginia and had recently stumbled across the Catholic Church, her teachings, and her seemingly outrageous claims to truth. Encountering both the man who would become my husband and then the Church Fathers had led me to the troubling realization that maybe everything was not relative: that perhaps man’s darkness was real and that there was a real salvation, that perhaps God did exist and that truth, goodness, and beauty were more than romantic ideals.

A disinterested rationalism ruled the day on campus, the idea that all traditions and practices are something the educated person stands apart from, that she observes from a distance and perhaps with curiosity. This was well-known to any “critical thinker” and to the newly, ardently atheistic coeds in my residence hall. Actually to take part in a tradition, to claim it for oneself, is the only modern-day heresy there is.

Though intellectual commitments are often frowned upon by universities, they are inescapably human. All of us are born into complex networks of family, national, ethnic, religious, political, and other relationships that modern man tends to dismiss, viewing humans only as atomized, disconnected units. It turns out that claiming a tradition is not so radical after all.

Full Article Here:

https://ethikapolitika.org/2016/02/09/lents-bodily-exposure/

What was your most memorable Ash Wednesday experience? Or even just a time that you saw someone wearing ashes. I’d love to hear from you!

Local Bookstore #3: One More Page in Falls Church, VA

Last weekend, I visited One More Page with my two kids and I was immeasurably delighted by the welcoming kids section, the hand chosen and recommended adult books and the wine and chocolate selection. One More Page is a store that hosts author events, book club meetings and lots of fun ways to get involved with people who like reading.

Here are some pictures of books there and the store’s offerings. Had so much fun, and I will be going back!

Question: What do you look for in a bookstore? Got any recommendations for me either here in the DC area or if I happen to be in a different area?

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Consider Supporting Me on Patreon (so I can get my own URL)

lmehihkfybjhxa8hkjmuw6bdfleabgdfrizpc99iifhbbwzqo73atnmxfo0err0d_large_2I prefer to focus on content. But today, I’d like to share some details behind the running of this blog.

  1. I hope you like it here. I love writing and reading; they absolutely keep me sane, so I will keep on writing, and hopefully, you’ll keep on reading no matter what.
  2. I am ready to grow. There are more things I would like to do to grow my readership. I want to offer free e-books, have direct email sign ups on the sidebar, maybe even an affiliate link to amazon, and my own server space and unique URL address like theoress.com.
  3. All these growing things cost money, especially the server space and the upgraded wordpress account.
  4. Patreon is a super & user-friendly way to help me raise money from people who enjoy the content that I create and provide. So I made a Patreon account.
  5. If you like my work and would like to support its growth, please visit me here https://www.patreon.com/StephaniePacheco to offer a monthly pledge or “tip.”

It would help me SO, SO much and the first 20 supporters get to ask me a question on any topic and have it appear in a blog post. I am ramping up other rewards too which will be ready for roll out soon like a printable, pin-able manifesto of the core principles of this blog and my writing, of playlists of inspiring and/or historical music and all kinds of fun stuff.

Really though, I want to start making some of my work available as free e-books and the tech support I need to do that well is gonna cost me some bucks. So please, visit https://www.patreon.com/StephaniePacheco

Note: Don’t donate if you don’t have funds. Only you know your situation, and this blog is here to bring you fresh insights, not run you into the ground.

Also, supporting me on Patreon is like a donation. It is not a guarantee of content or of content that you will like. I cannot be responsible for dissatisfaction with my blog posts, so the second you aren’t happy anymore, you can stop supporting me. I won’t be offended. It’s okay. (That being said, I have a pretty steady record of posting about once a week and I strive to hold myself to high standards in my writing.)

So think about it. Visit me at https://www.patreon.com/StephaniePacheco and let’s make fun things happen soon!

Thanks a million just for reading!

 

Prez. Candidates: When it comes to the environment, life matters too

[This article appeared originally on the Truth and Charity Forum]

“So as we approach the election, we must keep these two paradoxical principles in regard to the environment in our minds: that it has intrinsic worth as God’s creation and that it has worth as it serves humanity and offers us the basic survivals of our life.

Pope Francis sees a profound unity within Creation that is both the work of God that gives him glory and the domain of man which provides us our sustenance. Francis notes that, “Pope Benedict asked us to recognize that the natural environment has been gravely damaged by our irresponsible behaviour,” and also that human lives have suffered because of that, since humans and natural world are an interrelated whole. He continues that, “Both are ultimately due to the same evil: the notion that there are no indisputable truths to guide our lives, and hence human freedom is limitless” (LS 6).

Thus, because there is truth, because reality and the earth are real, we have duties to the earth and to each other. We have to live in accord with the inherent goodness of the earth, the biblical commandment that we steward it, and the biological realities that govern both. One key biological reality that Francis mentioned was “sexuality and the family.” He asks us to remember that at a very basic level, we are created male and female and we are born into families. In ignoring the natural world, we have come to ignore these social truths.

Approaching the election, let’s briefly look at the parties and how they stand on the environment. In my opinion, no candidate offers a truly Catholic platform, though some are preferable to others.

True to form, the Democratic candidates place a bigger emphasis on the environment, mentioning climate change and investing in new, clean energy sources such as electric and solar…”

“The importance of human life, even within the environmental issues, is paramount. Catholics and Christians in general are frequently criticized for voting exclusively on “social issues” like abortion and gay marriage and ignoring other facets of human life. And this criticism is widely true: we do vote on the life issue, but it is not to ignore other important realities. On the contrary, all aspects of human life and the common good are built on a fundamental understanding of the goodness of life and when it starts. The Catholic Church’s teaching is highly reasonable: that life starts from the moment the body comes into existence, which is conception. Without respect for life and where it comes from, there can be no true respect of any other human good. And if we are placing the environment in opposition to humanity instead of integrating the two, there is a problem.”

Full article here.

Question: what is most important to you when voting? Particular issues, if so, then what? Or the candidates themselves and their personal integrity?

 

Bookstore visit: Top Picks from Barnes and Noble

Barnes and Noble gets knocked sometimes for being too corporate. And that’s true enough; they are a big corporation.

But often B&N is the only book store in town, if there even is one, and they have a great kids section, cool gifts and host author events and book parties. (I have no affiliation with Barnes and Noble at all; this is all my unsolicited personal opinion). And I love to visit with my kids in the winter.

So, here are some picks from our last visit. Since I bring children, and I don’t want to buy the whole store, we take pictures of the titles that interest us.

This time I was really impressed with the local history section, which I had never paid attention to before. There’s a tree house book in there to help guide me to my dream home, some books of poems and legends that I want to teach to the kids, some classics that I enjoy, some gift picks and a toy pick from my son.

What would you browse for?

Here we go:

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To inspire my lifestyle. Continue reading

Two Reasons Not to Roll Your Eyes at Literature

51fzbtog4-l-_sx322_bo1204203200_Over at Matthew Warner’s website, he pondered this quotation from Albert Einstein:

“Somebody who reads only newspapers and at best the books of contemporary authors looks to me like an extremely nearsighted person who scorns eyeglasses. He is completely dependent on the prejudices and fashions of his times, since he never gets to see or hear anything else. And what a person thinks on his own without being stimulated by the thoughts and experiences of other people is even in the best case rather paltry and monotonous.

There are only a few enlightened people with a lucid mind and style and with good taste within a century. What has been preserved of their work belongs among the most precious possessions of mankind.

Nothing is more needed than to overcome the modernist’s snobbishness.”

– Albert Einstein

 

He says one of the most precious possessions of time for him is “For me, Sacred Scripture is one such precious possession. Another is the Catechism of the Catholic Church. Whether you are Catholic or not, it is one of the most impressive documents in human history and is itself a preservation of many of the precious bits of wisdom mankind has managed to pass on — all pieced together in harmony.” http://matthewwarner.me/our-modern-snobbishness

I completely agree, and I would like to add the immense value of all the books I used to roll my eyes at in high school:

  1. Books like Les Miserables, The Once and Future King, The Brothers Karamozov, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol, even the Secret Garden and A Wrinkle in Time paint so clear a picture of our human faults but then point to the hope, the hope of our salvation and how much better life can be on this earth as we embrace each other and life in the next.

2. Further, books are so accessible. They are easily available for free at libraries and you can read them in the comfort of your own home. And yet somehow, they speak to you, like a true friend sharing his deepest experiences and lessons learned. That is why they wrote those novels, to share the path of knowledge and understanding that they had forged through human trial and error, then finally enlightened by grace.

To really appreciate a book is to know that there was someone out there who pondered the same things you ponder and wrote down her sense of how it all works through the story of people.

The Confessions of St. Augustine is another. There are so many more. To read is not be alone.

So I continue Matthew’s question: what are priceless possessions to you? (Read his original post here) Comment, Tweet or just like. I’d love to hear from you.