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Loving When It's Not Easy View Comments
by Susan Hines-Brigger

We currently have a 6-month-old puppy at home. She’s very appropriately named Tigger for the way she bounces around the house. And while I love her immensely, she is quite a challenge. She’s a chewer, and not very selective about what she chews— toys, shoes, couches, hands, feet. I spend a good part of my time at home retrieving things from her mouth or teaching her that I just want to walk to the kitchen without her attached to my foot.

I get it. She’s a puppy. She’s teething and learning. I’ve been down this road before. But it doesn’t make it any easier. I always tell her—yes, I talk to my dog—that it’s a good thing I love her so much, because sometimes she really doesn’t make it easy. Especially when I’m cleaning the carpets because she decided it was raining outside and didn’t want to get her paws wet in the grass.

But Tigger is not the only one in my life who challenges me sometimes in the love department. My kids do, my husband, my parents, my sisters, friends, coworkers, relatives— the list goes on. And likewise, I’m 100 percent certain that I equally challenge them at times.

Loving someone doesn’t mean that it’s always easy. In fact, it’s usually during the difficult times when loving someone is the most important. As someone with a chronic illness, I know that firsthand.

It also doesn’t mean we always have to agree with that person’s behavior or decisions. But it does mean that he or she matters to us, and we care—warts and all, as the saying goes.

Loving the 'Unlovable'

Take a moment and stop to think of one person whom you really struggle to love. Maybe it’s someone you know. Maybe it’s someone you don’t know. Now, stop and say a prayer for that person.

Doing this doesn’t mean you have to welcome that person with open arms or always agree with his or her choices or decisions. It does mean, though, that you recognize that he or she is a child of God—just as you are.

Some things, such as the case with Tigger, will pass with time. Other things, however, such as our attitude toward the homeless, the incarcerated, people within our own Church, or—given the events of this month—someone of a different political persuasion, may be a little more difficult to overcome. But try nonetheless. They deserve our charity as much as we deserve theirs.

Holiday Trials

With the upcoming holidays there will be a lot of articles and talk about family dynamics and family struggles as families get together. Personalities can clash. Past hurts or grievances may come back to the surface.

It can also be a wonderful time to, once again, gather together and share your common bond.

I’m sure you’re probably all thinking, “Dream on; that’s never gonna happen.” And you’re right. It probably won’t. There’s enough hate and anger in this world.

But if there’s a chance that one person can find a place in his or her heart for someone who wasn’t there before, I will have succeeded. Why not give everyone a chance?

You Are Loved--Here's Why

Last year for my son’s school project, our family had to write down and then share a list of things that we loved about one another. When the writing was done, we all sat down and took turns reading our lists. One by one, we went around the circle, revealing each person’s characteristics that we found so endearing and wonderful. As we worked our way through the lists, I was amazed at how revealing it was to hear how each of us saw the other members of the family.

This holiday season, why not try this with your own family? Take some time to write down one thing that you love about each person in your family or one thing for which you’re thankful about that person. Maybe it’s the way someone laughs, or that he or she gives the best hugs. One of the things my daughter said she loved about me was that I always had time for her, no matter what I was doing or how busy I was.

You might even consider doing this with your extended family when you gather for Thanksgiving dinner or next month at Christmastime. Whenever you have a chance, though, do it.

Sometimes in the day-to-day rush of life, it’s easy to forget all the things we love about one another. Take some time out to let those you care about know they are loved.

Do you have ideas or suggestions for topics you'd like to see addressed in this column? If so, send them to me at "A Catholic Mom Speaks," 28 W. Liberty Street, Cincinnati, OH 45202-6498, or e-mail them to

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Charles de Foucauld: Born into an aristocratic family in Strasbourg, France, Charles was orphaned at the age of six, raised by his devout grandfather, rejected the Catholic faith as a teenager and joined the French army. Inheriting a great deal of money from his grandfather, Charles went to Algeria with his regiment, but not without his mistress, Mimi. <br /><br />When he declined to give her up, he was dismissed from the army. Still in Algeria when he left Mimi, Charles reenlisted in the army. Refused permission to make a scientific exploration of nearby Morocco, he resigned from the service. With the help of a Jewish rabbi, Charles disguised himself as a Jew and in 1883 began a one-year exploration that he recorded in a book that was well received. <br /><br />Inspired by the Jews and Muslims whom he met, Charles resumed the practice of his Catholic faith when he returned to France in 1886. He joined a Trappist monastery in Ardeche, France, and later transferred to one in Akbes, Syria. Leaving the monastery in 1897, Charles worked as gardener and sacristan for the Poor Clare nuns in Nazareth and later in Jerusalem. In 1901 he returned to France and was ordained a priest. <br /><br />Later that year Charles journeyed to Beni-Abbes, Morocco, intending to found a monastic religious community in North Africa that offered hospitality to Christians, Muslims, Jews, or people with no religion. He lived a peaceful, hidden life but attracted no companions. <br /><br />A former army comrade invited him to live among the Tuareg people in Algeria. Charles learned their language enough to write a Tuareg-French and French-Tuareg dictionary, and to translate the Gospels into Tuareg. In 1905 he came to Tamanrasset, where he lived the rest of his life. A two-volume collection of Charles' Tuareg poetry was published after his death. <br /><br />In early 1909 he visited France and established an association of laypeople who pledged to live by the Gospels. His return to Tamanrasset was welcomed by the Tuareg. In 1915 Charles wrote to Louis Massignon: “The love of God, the love for one’s neighbor…All religion is found there…How to get to that point? Not in a day since it is perfection itself: it is the goal we must always aim for, which we must unceasingly try to reach and that we will only attain in heaven.”   <br /><br />The outbreak of World War I led to attacks on the French in Algeria. Seized in a raid by another tribe, Charles and two French soldiers coming to visit him were shot to death on December 1, 1916. <br />Five religious congregations, associations, and spiritual institutes (Little Brothers of Jesus, Little Sisters of the Sacred Heart, Little Sisters of Jesus, Little Brothers of the Gospel and Little Sisters of the Gospel) draw inspiration from the peaceful, largely hidden, yet hospitable life that characterized Charles. He was beatified on November 13, 2005. American Catholic Blog You know, O my God, I have never desired anything but to love you, and I am ambitious for no other glory.


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