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Testament; spirituality; family life
Look for connections
for use in programs outside the classroom, such as:
- Parish sacramental
preparation programs and CCD classes; young adult discussion
programs; seasonal discussion groups; RCIA programs.
- Parents will
also find this material useful in initiating discussion around
the dinner table, in home study, at family activities.
Terms in This Months Article
Look for these key
words and terms as you read the article. Definitions or explanations
can be researched from the article itself, or from the resource
materials cited throughout the Links for Learners.
This month's author
argues that any discussion of a male spirituality begins with Christ's
common call to discipleship. Authentic spirituality, he says, begins
with Baptism, the root of the common call to discipleship.
For information on
the sacrament of Baptism, visit Learning
More About Baptism on this Web site.
For further information,
see Franciscan Father Thomas Richstatter's book, The
Sacraments: How Catholics Pray (St. Anthony Messenger Press),
for a solid explanation of Baptism as a sacrament of initiation
to the Christian life. And for an understanding of Christian discipleship,
Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship (G. K. A. Bell)
is an excellent source. Bonhoeffer, a Protestant theologian and
an outspoken critic of Hitler, was executed by the Nazis in a German
concentration camp in 1945.
Baptism derives its
efficacy from the Incarnation.
The central role of the Incarnation means that we come to God through
our humanity. And because we are male or female, our manhood, our
womanhood is the key to our search for God.
See Father Henri Nouwen's
Compassion: A Reflection
on the Christian Life. Written with co-authors Donald P. McNeill
and Douglas A. Morrison, the book explores Christian compassion
as an implication of the Incarnation.
A shocking auto crash
caused the article's author to reassess his self-perception as protector
of his family. With prayerful reflection he came to see himself
as a sign of God's
compassionate presence. He is sacrament to his family. Most
of us can achieve the same understanding through thoughtful prayer.
If we are to be signs
of God's compassionate presence, how do we first develop an ear
for God's presence in our own lives? Church spiritual leaders invite
us to approach life reflectively. Building points of rest into our
busy schedules can help us find God. Praying will help us grow as
doesn't come easily in today's world. The struggle to earn a living
is not always conducive to the call to holiness. Retreat
centers offer a variety of programs for spending time reflecting
on God's presence. The site describes retreat experiences that will
fit just about anyone's needs and life style. Look for a list of
retreat centers throughout the country.
The author's research
and reflection on Genesis,
chapters two and three, led him to realize that vulnerability does
not come naturally to us as a result of Original Sin. He also believes
that the working out of his salvation will involve learning to be
vulnerable as he grows in his relationship with his spouse. Dying
to self is key to a healthy Christian marriage.
Contrast this with
the message of the PBS documentary, No
Safe Place: Violence Against Women. The program examines the
roots of male violence and includes an interview with the poet Robert
Bly, author of Iron John. Bly contends that fatherhood
is a learned experience for men.
Each year we celebrate
our fathers and what they mean to us on Father's
See Father Henri Nouwen's
for a discussion of deepening personal relationships with God and
with our fellow man. The collection of essays covers intimacy and
sexuality, intimacy and prayer, intimacy and community, and intimacy
for informative articles on fathers and sons, fathers and daughters,
and fathering in general. For example, we're all familiar with road
rage. But as fathers are we guilty of "bleacher rage"? What kind
of pressure do we put on our kids, and ourselves when we watch our
kids play ball? Are today's dads true mentors to their children,
or yelling coaches embarrassed because the kids do not fulfill a
dad's expectations? Fathers can mentor young people without getting
caught up in sports. There are scouting leadership opportunities,
parish teaching in Confirmation programs, vocal or hospitality training
for liturgical ministries. These expressions can reveal a more vulnerable,
compassionate side of men.
A further resource,
the National Center for Fathering,
supports fathers in their role of strengthening immaterial family
A man's relationship
with his dad is often hard to define. Bob Greene, well-known author
and Chicago Tribune
columnist, wrote Duty: A Father, His Son, and the Man Who Won
the War. Like many sons, Greene did not communicate well with
his father. But as his dad lay dying, Greene found a way to understand
their relationship. The "man who won the war" was Paul Tibbets,
the pilot of the bomber that dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima
in 1945. As Greene conversed over time with Tibbets, he came to
understand the thinking of the World War II generation, which included
his own father. Tibbets believes that the bombing of Hiroshima and
Nagasaki stopped the war at a time when countless more lives would
have been lost if the Allied Forces had to invade Japan. He has
no regret for doing what he and his superiors felt was necessary.
In exploring the differences between his world and that of his father,
Greene illuminates the bond between father and son.
See Franciscan Father
Jack Wintz's Lights:
Revelations of God's Goodness (St. Anthony Messenger Press)
for a touching description of a trip to post-war Hiroshima. In an
interview with Shigenobu Koji, a Buddhist monk, Wintz writes of
the attitudes of peace and reconciliation that some Japanese have
cultivated as a means to healing the memories of war. The same attitude
of healing would benefit our own daily lives and relationships.
Career and Spirituality
James Levine, author
of Working Fathers: New Strategies for Balancing Work and Family
(Addison, Wesley, Longman), speaks of the "conspiracy of silence"
prevalent in today's workplace. Fathers pretend they don't have
family commitments because they are afraid of job consequences.
He says managers act as if only women are faced with the work vs.
Too many men are caught up in this "old-fashioned corporate culture,"
Levine argues. He suggests men begin speaking up at work about their
involvement in family life.
Company business magazine ("What Kind of Dad Are You?")
for an interview with Levine.
For another perspective
on balancing work and personal life, read an interview with Judy
Wicks. "Don't leave your values and your passions at the doorstep
of your business," says the owner of the White Dog Café in Philadelphia.
Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi's philosophy of not separating spirituality,
business and politics, Wicks has combined her restaurant business
with family and community service.
Also in Fast Company
magazine, see the article on Chicago-based Second
City Communications, a branch of the famous comedy club that
trains corporate clients in communication skills. The skills are
easily applicable to family communications as well.