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Issue Two 2012

Your Family, Your Faith Making it Meaningful

EDITOR’S NOTE

Now that we have three children, does that make us a ‘better’ Catholic family than when we had two? It sounds ridiculous doesn’t it, but sometimes it can seem that way – there is a tendency to define ‘good’ Catholic families by the size of their brood. I was discussing this with a Catholic Mum who often feels she has to ‘justify’ why she ‘only’ has two children. She then added: “But someone once told me that Mary only had one child so that made me feel better!” Karen Edmisten points out the irony of this in her moving article on page five. She says that defining a ‘good’ Catholic family so narrowly is a judgement call that is completely at odds with what the Church is about – not judging others.

A PRINCIPAL’S PERSPECTIVE

by Angus Tulley

But we are flawed human beings, and we do judge don’t we? We also compare, constantly. I admit that I see Catholic families, usually larger ones, who appear ‘model’ families to me. I’m not sure why – perhaps they seem more committed to their faith. I think upbringing has a lot to do with it, in terms of shaping our worldview. Paul and I each have four siblings and always imagined we would have a larger family. Did we link that with our faith and being open to new life, well yes, I think we did. But does that make us better Catholics – no way! As Karen says, what we should be doing is praying for one another – now that’s the sign of a ‘good’ Catholic family. There can be huge sadness and grief in not having children, or as many as we hoped. So let’s drop any pressure or pretensions to be or act a certain way. Surely the world needs a lot more compassion!

IN THIS EDITION ‘Rules’ for a Catholic family .......2 Catholic families of all sizes .......5 Resisting the lure of housework 6 Big questions about God ............8

WELCOME THIBAULT!

How proud I am to introduce our third son Thibault de Fombelle (yes, another French name)! Talk about being newborn smitten. I am such a smug new Maman you would think I was the only woman to ever give birth! The first month was a bit bumpy with feeding issues but, overall, life is ‘Thibault bliss!’

Best wishes from my family to yours, Felicity de Fombelle PS: To read ‘Your Family, Your Faith’ online, go to www.familyfaith.org.au (and show it to others)!

I went to Catholic schools and my parents were practising Catholics. My upbringing was reasonably insular and I suppose I assumed most families had the same challenges that I had, although there was a twist in that my parents had moved to Australia from Scotland when I was four and there were strong connections with family half the world away. I don’t know that we ever thought of ourselves as a ‘model’ Catholic family. Our family values were strong and being Catholic was very much part of

who we were but it didn’t make us any better than anyone else. A picture of Mary holding the baby Jesus was above a table in the entry to our home and a statue of Joseph featured prominently in the hall. I thought all families had similar adornments in their houses. One of my uncles was a priest, a Mill Hill Father. He spent 25 years as a missionary in Uganda and his rather youthful photo, complete with clerical collar, was prominent in our family room. I met him in Scotland when I was in my early 20s Continued over...


A DAD’S PERSPECTIVE

“THE ‘RULES’ OF A GOOD CATHOLIC FAMILY” by Shawn van der Linden

Growing up in the 1970s, it wasn’t hard to miss my family’s ‘Catholicfamilyness’. Five children, a bright orange Volkswagen (with a marriage encounter sticker on the back) a Crucifix and statue of Mary at home, Sunday Mass, prayers at mealtimes … the list goes on. Doing Catholic things was just our way of life. It was a few years out of high school that the reality of my being Catholic really hit home. Did it have any real impact on my life or was it just something I inherited? Two major questions for me at the time were: 1. What was the purpose and meaning of all the Catholicnessfamilyness? 2. Was being Catholic really about trying so hard every day to live by the “rules” and be “good”? Soon after came a breakthrough moment. I was alone one evening and happened to read the words of Jesus in Matthew’s Gospel: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ … Indeed your heavenly Father knows

that you need all these things. But seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” After reading this I felt a strong sense to surrender my life to God in a way I hadn’t done before. I experienced a love in my heart that I have always found difficult to explain. Looking back I can see it was an experience of the love of God, which changed my life. I discovered a new capacity to overcome fears and make decisions that I previously thought impossible. By no means am I saying this fixed up all my struggles. They are still there and more often than not I find myself pretty disappointed with how I am going as a Catholic! Now, with my own family, my wife and I are trying to replicate much of what our parents did with us to live as a Catholic family. And while we have Mass apps on our iPhone and listen to music on iPods rather than vinyl records or cassette tapes, the fundamentals haven’t changed. We don’t take our kids to Mass, or try to have family prayer each night, because we think that’s what a ‘model’ Catholic family should do, or

for appearances. We do it because we are driven by a deep desire to pass on to our children the most important part of our lives – our belief that Jesus is the Son of God and died for us, and is the true way to God, and because of our shared belief that our Christian faith is the best heritage we can pass on to them. The Jewish people in the Old Testament were encouraged to “impress (the Commandments) on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up”. (Deuteronomy 6:7) In other words, make your faith a key part of every aspect of your lives. For us, a model Catholic family is not one that necessarily does all the right ‘Catholic’ things. Rather, it’s one where grace and love and forgiveness are at the heart of all relationships. We try to participate as fully as we can in our Catholic faith because we have experienced the love of God and know that the source of all love and peace in the world is the love of Christ. * Shawn is Director of Pastoral Support Services (CatholicLIFE)

A PRINCIPAL’S PERSPECTIVE ...continued from cover

and I’m sure the pound notes he gave me were straight off a collection plate! Early in life I realised there was no such thing as a model family or a model Catholic family. I did learn at first hand the importance of being hospitable and of families taking the time to share meals together. I also learned that it was important to look out for the less fortunate and to try to put empathy into action. One of my father’s favourite expressions was ‘there but for the grace of God go I’. It is more difficult to ignore the less fortunate when you acknowledge their humanity and realise that one day you could also be doing it tough. I also learned that families need to stick together through thick and thin. I heard a quote a couple of years ago that ‘good schools are strong in the broken places’ and the same goes for families. It is well and good to be a happy family when things are going well but the real test of a family is when things go wrong. Some of my strongest memories are of when things did go wrong, when there were challenges, and yet we became better people by working through the issues together. Over Christmas a cousin of mine died in tragic circumstances in Tasmania. He had struggled with mental illness for much of his life. Through various rituals his family was able to express their love for him and their belief that his suffering is now over. I was reminded, starkly and strongly, of the importance of family and the precious gift that family members are to each other.

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A MUM’S PERSPECTIVE

“A HAPPY, HOLY AND ‘TOGETHER’ FAMILY” by Annabelle O’Connell The only time I feel I can relate to Mary, Jesus’ mother, is at Christmas, about the fact that we have both given birth. Apart from that she’s just too perfect, and rightly so. While I am not wicked or evil, the Angel Gabriel would not have been knocking on our door had Jesus been meant to be born in Junee in the 1980s. I got to thinking that sometimes the idea you form of someone comes from lovely snippets you hear about their life, and so, if you recall anything I wrote last year, you might have the impression that the O’Connells of Yass are a happy, holy family who are so together … the parents have rules they teach to their beautifully mannered children skilfully and lovingly, and their greatest challenges in life are maths homework, daggy joggers, and children who sigh when they have to go to school and don’t want to. Ahem. While there are lovely snippets in our life, this is a glimpse of some of the fairly ordinary. And what you are reading is modified in some way from

that, just so that people who live with me are not completely bagged out or given offers to live elsewhere after reading it. Our house is so messy at times that, as some of you have seen, you really have to think about where you will put your feet when you are invited in. There are tumbleweeds of dog hair; piles of washing and washing up; piles of paper and stuff on the bench, the computer desk and on top of the microwave. And that’s just what I can see in this room. There is shouting and laziness. There are accusations, there is sarcasm and occasional heated arguments. On my part, there is a massive deficit in the apology department – see? I can’t even say the‘s’ word. Great model for my kids. There are times I sit comfortably with my needlework or at the piano, inwardly fuming about the fact that I’m sure I have to do more work in this house than anyone else (NB Anthony works longer hours than I do, does most of the grocery shopping, most of the bill-paying, most of the washing, all of the ironing, and we share cooking and cleaning. Still,

sometimes I feel very hard done by). I have mentioned things I pray for but please don’t mistake me for a deeply religious person – I pray mostly because I’m asking God for something I want or for forgiveness because I’ve been slagging someone off. I go to Mass sometimes only for the fact I have to play music. Maths homework and a messy kitchen bench be damned – we have been through crises in our house that will never see the light of this column. Deep sigh. I’m blessed to have encouragement to keep going, from my husband, my parents, my family and friends, all of whom listen to my whinging and share their frustrations with me. I’m not the only one who, at times, shouts at my kids, or has a house that looks like this, or doesn’t feel like Mass, etc. All of the above would be a gazillion times more stressful without my faith. Last column I quoted John 10:10 and my take on ‘fullness’ – the good, the bad and the ugly. Jesus is with us in all of it, and just as life goes on, so does his promise. Thank God.

At ime t o chuckle

Four Catholic mothers were chatting over lunch one day. Mother 1: My son is a priest. When he enters the church, everyone says, Good morning Father. (And she’s very proud) Mother 2: My son is a bishop; everyone says, Good morning Your Excellency. (And she’s very very proud) Mother 3: My son is a cardinal; everyone says, Good morning Your Eminence. (And she’s extremely proud). All three women look at Mother 4 to see what she has to say. Mother 4: Oh, my son is not a priest. He’s just a layman. And he’s 165kgs & 2metres tall. And when he enters the church, everyone says, OH MY GOD!!!

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“ELEVEN CHILDREN, BUT NO SAINTS AMONG THEM” by Felicity de Fombelle

Don’t call the Crimmins family model Catholics – that’s definitely not the label they want. They may have 11 children, and be open to more. And yes, they do go to Mass, say prayers at mealtimes and the kids know the Rosary. But, for one thing, the children don’t have saints names. Consider the list: Brittany, 22, Paige, 21, Fenelle, 20, Cooper, 18, Paris, 15, Spencer, 12, Lincoln, 10, Scarlett, 8, Flinders, 5, Autumn, 3 and Hewson, 18 months. “People do expect us to have a bunch of ‘Peter, Paul and Mary’s’,” Dad Xavier, 43, said. “But my wife Christine liked different names. “I’d hate us to be put up as model Catholics. We’re just a typical Australian family, albeit a big one. We have kids who play up and get into trouble. And both of us have our failings. You wouldn’t necessarily know we’re Catholic, apart from our size, which does shock people. They usually ask me how many wives I have! There is always a lot of praise for my wife and rightly so.

really connected when I returned.” Xavier was 21 when he married. Christine, who is now 42, was 19. “We just knew it was right,” he says. As for 11 children, well, Xavier says that just happened. “There’d be lots of kids running around and Christine would find out she was pregnant again and we’d sometimes think, oh dear,” he explains. “But faith teaches us that God gives us what we can handle, although we have questioned that at times!” Xavier and Christine grew up in big families. Xavier has eight siblings, and was raised by his mother. Christine has four.

Early on in their marriage, Xavier worked in hospitality, but the family is now financially comfortable with Xavier being the head of a not-for-profit organisation that helps disadvantaged people find employment. Xavier praises his “extraordinary” wife for her “24/7 effort” to raise their children and says their faith has certainly kept them going. “It’s often what gets you through,” he says. “I sometimes think, if you don’t believe in God, life must be really tough. We’ve always gone to Mass, we say grace before meals and pray for others. Being Catholic is just a part of who we are.”

“But God is definitely part of our family; part of the family mess as well.

Daughter Paige’s wedding to John last year. They now have a son.

“There can be a view that if you’re a Catholic, everything is perfect and you are holier than thou. Catholics are just trying to do their best in the world like everyone else. But that doesn’t make us any better. In fact, we think the opposite sometimes. Your faith makes you all too aware of your failings!”

“I grew up surrounded by big Catholic families,” Xavier explains. “There were 10 boys next door and the average family had eight. One had 17 kids. It must have been contagious, or there was just lots of competition. As a child it was wonderful, having so many kids around.”

The story of Xavier and Christine dates to when they were teenagers in Wagga Wagga. Xavier saw Christine on a bus one day “and I just knew she was the one”. “One day she happened to be at our place with my brother and his friends and I pretended I was fixing my motorbike so I could hang around,” Xavier explains. “I went to Sydney for a while and we

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As a married couple, Xavier and Christine decided that money would not rule their lives. “We did not want money, or the lack of it, to influence how many children we had,” he says. “You often hear people say they can’t afford more kids, but we just thought we’d be looked after. We’ve had our struggles, but we’ve got by”.

The family lived in Batemans Bay for 20 years but recently moved to Razorback, near Camden, to be closer to Xavier’s work. “Christine’s grandmother once said, ‘You might feel troubled by it now but you will never regret it in later years’, and we believe that,” Xavier states. “Christine never expected to be a mother of 11 children but she sees it as her ministry. “Now our two older girls are just one hour away which means they can babysit. In fact, recently, the two girls were rostered on and Christine and I went away for a weekend. Christine said we shouldn’t do it too often because we might never return!”


“GOOD CATHOLIC FAMILIES COME IN ALL SIZES” by Karen Edmisten

WE see five kids, or six … or seven. Maybe one on the way. And we know. That’s a good Catholic family. And they are. Their openness to life is an apparent and beautiful witness. But what of those families whose children number only one, two or three? Are we to surmise anything about them? The question is more than hypothetical for many. My husband and I, for example, strive to be faithful Catholics and we have three children – on earth. In Heaven there are six other souls whom I hope to meet someday. As we have suffered through miscarriages we have gained powerful prayer warriors in Heaven, but our large family isn’t visible to the world. This is painfully clear every time I am confronted by the issue. The questions range from well-meaning to thoughtless (though never, I am certain, ill-willed): “Do you want more?” “Are you going to try for a boy?” “Three? You need more!” A while ago I met a friend’s mother and the conversation turned to children. I had two children at the

time and I proudly rattled off my daughters’ names and ages. She smiled politely. When another guest mentioned her five children, my acquaintance lit up. “That’s wonderful!” she said. “So few people have that many these days!” Ouch. She didn’t mean to hurt me, but her words stung. I had just lost a baby two weeks prior and wanted to shout, “I want more – I have more! They’re in Heaven – does that count?” Of course she’d have been horrified to know that her words hurt me and I said nothing. Charity often demands silence. And it’s worth noting that some of my reaction stems from pride. In the presence of people who value life I want them to know that I value it dearly, too. My openness to life is hidden in Heaven with my babies who (I hope and trust) pray daily for their mother to be less prideful and more able to handle the little stings that come her way. But still … still It hurts to be judged, yet it can be a vital wake-up call to not judge others. A few years ago I similarly judged an acquaintance. When I overheard her being asked about more children, I dismissed her curt response as that of one who is closed to life. I later found out that she’d been unable to conceive again, and I was jolted back to the reality of my own pain. Good Catholic families come in all sizes and “only” one, two or three

children may be the visible sign of parents who have suffered. Conversely, families with many children can struggle in their own ways. Occasionally, mothers-of-many can, during difficult or overwhelming times, feel just as “closed” to life as others. It seems a cruel irony that a woman with eight children yells at God for the latest positive pregnancy test on the same day that another woman blames Him for the loss of her baby. It is not a cruel irony, but a holy one. Only the Lord knows exactly what we need – He is allowing what He knows to be best, as we struggle to understand His movement in our lives. And so, I turn to Him each day, both to understand His will for our family, and to ask for the grace to avoid judging others unfairly. Having struggled on both sides of the issue, I can say that perhaps the best response, when we hear, “Kids? Yes, we have two”, is simple. “And what blessings they must be!” Then, let’s pray for one another. Now, that’s a sign of a good Catholic family. * Karen Edmisten is the author of The Rosary: Keeping Company With Jesus and Mary, Through the Year With Mary: 365 Reflections, and After Miscarriage: A Catholic Woman’s Companion to Hope and Healing. Find her online at http://karenedmisten.blogspot.com

UMBERT THE UNBORN The feisty comic strip character who demands respect!

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FAMILY MATTERS

“RESISTING THE LURE OF HOUSEWORK” by Cathy Drumore

When people learn we have eight children, their first comment is often “How do you do it?” That can be code for “How can you afford them?” or “How do you cope?” or “How do you find the time to do anything?” And sometimes “Why in the world did you have so many?” When I am asked “How do you do it?” I always give credit where it’s due - I have an excellent husband! Secondly, it’s all about priorities. And something having to give. What probably gives most is our house. Let me be honest here. Our family is good at lots of things, but tidiness and organisation aren’t always high on the list! Our house frequently looks like a bomb hit it, we often have to choose clothes from “floordrobes” (or the living room couch or laundry baskets), and homework and other accruements can go missing for weeks. But, again I have to be honest,

none of this worries me terribly. You see, having worked full time for most of the last 17 years, and abandoning my children to Julian’s care from six weeks old, I value all the time I spend with them. I would rather enhance their learning, play games, watch movies, or take them places instead of wasting valuable time on housework. My grandmother used to say that housework will always be there but children won’t. For the first decade or more of our marriage Julian was the only one really doing housework. He cooked, made school lunches, washed (dishes and clothes), swept, vacuumed, gardened, fixed, attended playgroup and repaired the odd computer in his spare time. He also helped at school, doing canteen, listening to reading and transporting kids to events. Yes – I was the envy of all the playgroup mums!

Frankly, I was an honorary Dad – I might feed a child before I left in the morning and bathe and feed them of an evening but I was swamped with homework from school. Now, funnily enough, after all of that I’d like to point out that I actually like a tidy house. It’s kind of nice to be able to find stuff and not always see jobs to do. I even waste time and energy exhorting kids to ensure that minimum chores are done so that we don’t live in complete squalor. But Jesus made it pretty clear that God takes first priority, then family and others are meant to come next. I hope I can continue to resist the lure of housework when more important priorities present themselves – okay, it’s not really that difficult. So what am I going to do when I’ve finished this piece at 10.45pm? Yep – watch a movie. What did you think I was going to say?

FAMILY & FAITH

“TEACHING CHILDREN TO LOVE LIFE” by Archbishop Mark Coleridge

Growing up, I used to think my family was normal. It was only later that I came to see it was anything but normal. Not that it was dysfunctional. Then when I became a priest and was dealing with all kinds of families, I began to see that there’s no such thing as normality when it comes to families. The whole notion of a norm for family is culturally conditioned in a quite radical way. This is also true of Catholic families. So are there any elements of Catholic family life which transcend cultural boundaries? One transcendent element is the sense that God is not far away in some distant heaven but is intimately involved in family life. God is part of the family mix, since it is his love that

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makes a family function or function well. Not only God, but also Mary and the saints as well. The family is a place where true spirituality is learnt. Then there is the sense that the community of faith, the Church, also embraces the family and gives to parents and children that sense of grand connectedness essential to the Catholic experience of Christianity. We are not alone. Beyond liturgical celebration, the Catholic family will teach the young the power of ritual more generally. It will teach them to love life – to rejoice, to laugh, to feast, to remember, to tell stories. It will teach them to love music, song, dance and all forms of art – the things that make life truly human. It will teach them that the body is good, indeed a great gift.

Two other elements of Catholic family life are sacrifice and forgiveness. Teaching young people to sacrifice themselves and to forgive are among the most crucial duties of a Catholic family, and they are seriously countercultural. A Catholic family will teach the young to embrace the culture in deep ways but also to resist the culture at certain points – and how to do both. There may be no such thing as the normal or ideal Catholic family, but there are elements found in strong Catholic families in any time, place and culture. A final thought is this: if the family is “the domestic Church”, then whatever we say of the family we ought also to say of the Church. The elements I have named here are as much the mark of a healthy Catholic Church as they are of healthy Catholic families.


“MEASURING OUR ‘CATHOLIC-NESS’ IS A SERIOUS MISTAKE” by Lara Kirk People might look at our family and think we are ‘model Catholics’. We have more kids than the average, our marriage has managed to survive over two decades, we go to Mass every Sunday, we say family prayers and so far, our children (aged 8 to 16 years) appear reasonably well adjusted and content. But I think that assessing faith in terms of ‘performance indicators’ or ‘outcomes’ is a serious mistake. For my husband and I, living a life of faith is about trying to stay in touch with the reality that we depend on a loving God, not only for our health and happiness, but our eternal salvation. This realisation plays out in our family life in many ways. Tim and I try to be open about the fact that we haven’t got it all together. We struggle with fears, compulsions, insecurities and prejudices. There are things we don’t like about ourselves and at times feel powerless to change. Our kids know there are things we are ‘working on’ and are trusting God to help us with. As parents, we ask for forgiveness of

measurable standard of ‘success’. It’s about being authentic human beings and accepting that we are all equally dependent on God.

each other and of our children often and we are open to being challenged by our kids if we are, say, flouting the road rules or being bad tempered or making their lives miserable by getting bogged down in dead end arguments again.

Jesus wasn’t impressed with people who worried about ‘having it together’ spiritually or materially. He was constantly telling the religious ‘high achievers’ of his day – the scribes and pharisees – that people whose lives were a mess and who were publicly despised were much closer to heaven than they were. “Look, I’m telling you, tax collectors and prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God before you guys”.

Tim and I make a habit of praying for our needs and the needs of others and we each try to make time and space for God in our lives. We teach our kids that we are incredibly lucky to have all the good things we do - education, a home, our health, holidays, good friends and a rich family life. We impress on them that we are more fortunate than many people but we are no more deserving and we have a responsibility to share our good fortune with others. We also try to practice hospitality without distinction. My husband’s business brings people to our home who are more influential than we are. We try to show the kids that just like everyone else, these people need us to be genuinely interested in them for who they are, not for what they have or do. We also have treasured friends who may currently enjoy less opportunity than we do. Our family is ‘made rich’ by the simple privilege of being able to share our lives freely with others. For us, being ‘good Catholics’ then isn’t about aspiring to some externally

Does that mean Jesus doesn’t want us to make an effort to be good? No. When he rescued the ‘woman caught in adultery’ from the angry mob he told her “I don’t condemn you. But go, and sin no more”. Yet he clearly believed that those whose life experience forced them to face their own fragility were much better positioned to experience the ‘fullness of life’ that he was offering. Those of us who aspire to be ‘good Catholics’ therefore, and who also enjoy a lot of control over our life circumstances, need to take seriously Jesus’ warning that ‘it’s hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven’. The more command we have over our lives and consequently over other people’s opinion of us, the less confronted we are by own fragility and the less open we are to accepting our need for God.

“NEW ‘YOUR FAMILY, YOUR FAITH’ WEBSITE” “Your Family, Your Faith” website will be established to build on the family newsletter’s success, Archbishop Mark Coleridge has announced. Bishop Mark said the new website would feature a range of interesting articles and material for families. The website is one of many changes resulting from the Archdiocesan Assembly last November. Others include:

• Catholic parishes will explore ways of re-connecting with people who have left the church, such as through social media and local letterbox drops; • An Archdiocesan Youth Leaders forum will be held in July this year; • The Assembly will be held annually. * To read the report from the Assembly, go to www.cgassembly.org.au

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THE

THREE IN ONE

BIG QUESTIONS ABOUT GOD

by Shane Dwyer

by Felicity de Fombelle

My mother once told me that she began to learn about the Catholic faith when I started asking questions about it. Rather than try to give me simplistic answers to complex questions, she went and tried to find the answer. My questions became part of her journey of discovery.

OF FAITH

So here’s a question for you: What are those Catholics doing when they make the sign of the cross? What’s so special about ‘in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit’? Sometimes they do it so quickly it looks like they’re swatting flies! What’s it all about?

“If God is so good and powerful, why is there suffering and why is life sometimes so hard?” It is good to discuss these big questions, which is why the Archdiocese has started the ‘Saturday Spirituality Seminars’. I recently attended the first, along with 40 others, and found it really absorbing. The Archdiocesan Coordinator of Faith Formation Shane Dwyer is the presenter and he is great. You can’t help but be drawn in as the discussions are so relevant to our daily lives and are matters that we all grapple with. So, in terms of why God allows suffering, one of Shane’s comments was: “There is more to what God wants for us than just giving us a nice life, and often we misunderstand that.”

To have any hope of understanding it, we have to understand that Catholics (and Christians in general) have a very specific view of God. We believe that there is one God, and that God has revealed himself to be Three Persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. On the surface of it, this is a bit mad. How can we say that God is One and God is Three? Once somebody tried to explain it to me, and I pass it on to you for what it is worth. He said, “take any person as an example. If you are woman chances are you are somebody’s daughter, somebody’s wife, somebody’s mother, somebody’s friend, and so on. If you’re a man you may be somebody’s son, somebody’s father, somebody’s brother, and so on. You get the idea. You’re one person, but you’re many things depending on who’s looking at (or relating to) you”. While saying God is Three Persons is a little bit more complicated than that, the example begins to help us see that it is possible to be one thing and many things at the same time. However, the fact is that all our attempts to explain the Trinity fall short. Personally, I find this very reassuring. God is beyond human comprehension. The Trinity is not a helpful human explanation of what God is like. It is not something we would make up because, from our point of view, it doesn’t make sense. The only reason we believe God is Trinity is because God has told us that this is who he is. We believe in a God who defies our human comprehension, and anyone who claims to have understood God and to have sorted him out is deceived. We do not sort God out: God sorts us out.

He added: “You can’t love your wife just for what she does for you. You love her for who she is. It’s the same with God. He wants us to love him in spite of what he is doing, not because of it. The challenge is to say, ‘I don’t know what you’re doing God, or why, but I believe in you anyway’.” Toni Dickins, 25, said she would definitely recommend the two-hour seminars to others. “I grew up in a Catholic family but we never really discussed our faith, so I want to understand it better,” Toni said. “I haven’t always been so devoted and being a Catholic does make your life more complicated, but also more fulfilling.” Discussing the theme “Who is God?” Shane stressed that God was not an easy answer to anything.

So when your child comes home from school oneday and asks what the sign of the cross is all about, what will you say?

“We want a God we can control, who will do things for us when we ask and make no demands,” he went on. “It’s like we have a contract with God. I do my bit and God does his. But God doesn’t operate that way. It is not us who shapes God. It is God who shapes us.”

*Shane is Archdiocesan Coordinator, Faith Formation & Spirituality. This is his fifth column about Catholic faith.

* The next seminar will be on April 21. To register, phone 6163 4336.

Your Family, Your Faith is proudly supported by the Australian Catholic University

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Published by the Catholic Archdiocese of Canberra-Goulburn Produced by CatholicLIFE PO Box 7174 Yarralumla ACT 2600 Tel: 02 6163 4300 Fax: 02 6163 4310 Email: info@catholiclife.org.au Website: www.catholiclife.org.au


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