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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 CatholicMom@franciscanmedia.org.

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Athanasius: Athanasius led a tumultuous but dedicated life of service to the Church. He was the great champion of the faith against the widespread heresy of Arianism, the teaching by Arius that Jesus was not truly divine. The vigor of his writings earned him the title of doctor of the Church. 
<p>Born of a Christian family in Alexandria, Egypt, and given a classical education, Athanasius became secretary to Alexander, the bishop of Alexandria, entered the priesthood and was eventually named bishop himself. His predecessor, Alexander, had been an outspoken critic of a new movement growing in the East—Arianism. </p><p>When Athanasius assumed his role as bishop of Alexandria, he continued the fight against Arianism. At first it seemed that the battle would be easily won and that Arianism would be condemned. Such, however, did not prove to be the case. The Council of Tyre was called and for several reasons that are still unclear, the Emperor Constantine exiled Athanasius to northern Gaul. This was to be the first in a series of travels and exiles reminiscent of the life of St. Paul. </p><p>After Constantine died, his son restored Athanasius as bishop. This lasted only a year, however, for he was deposed once again by a coalition of Arian bishops. Athanasius took his case to Rome, and Pope Julius I called a synod to review the case and other related matters. </p><p>Five times Athanasius was exiled for his defense of the doctrine of Christ’s divinity. During one period of his life, he enjoyed 10 years of relative peace—reading, writing and promoting the Christian life along the lines of the monastic ideal to which he was greatly devoted. His dogmatic and historical writings are almost all polemic, directed against every aspect of Arianism. </p><p>Among his ascetical writings, his<i> Life of St. Anthony</i> (January 17) achieved astonishing popularity and contributed greatly to the establishment of monastic life throughout the Western Christian world.</p> American Catholic Blog Suffering is redemptive in part because it definitively reveals to man that he is not in fact God, and it thereby opens the human person to receive the divine.

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