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You have discovered the blog of the Family Ministries Office for the Archdiocese of Louisville . . . we’re glad to have you here!

This blog is intended to be the home for all manner of original and referred content relating to the vast ocean of care and services known as Family Ministries for the Archdiocese of Louisville.

Here you will discover what’s new in Marriage Preparation, Pastoral Care for those in need, our Counseling and Safe Environment programs  as well as the work we do in the cause of life.

Stop by often . . . new content is being posted regularly!

“Life After The Wedding”

by Deacon Derrick and Mistianna Barnes

Over the last several months, if not years, you have been focused entirely on planning your special day. Catering decisions, wedding party selections, venue choices, and decisions about flowers, bridesmaids dresses, and tuxedoes have finally all been made. Hopefully, the Bride even got to say “yes” to her perfect dress. So, there literally has been no detail too small that you and the love of your life have not anguished over and spent countless hours reviewing, and tailoring to make them absolutely, wedding fabulous!

Mistianna:​   It seems a lot of newlyweds, like Derrick and I were years ago, get really caught up in the excitement of an elaborate proposal, the fabulous wedding, and a hot, happening honeymoon in the fantasy suite. The problem with that is when we do this, get so “wedding crazy” as my Daddy calls it, we fail to nurture the reality of what truly sustains our relationship with one another and instead focus all of our time and energy on our Wedding day, and not, on growing our relationship, or on learning what really makes each other tick, or understanding the expectations we each have for the other in this lifetime commitment we’re about to make through the Sacrament of Marriage. Unfortunately, this reality often catches couples by surprise once they return from there honeymoon and have time to really sit back and discuss life after the wedding.

Derrick:​       There can be a letdown after the wedding and at the beginning of your life together.  That’s exactly what happened to Mistianna and I once we returned from our honeymoon. Once we started talking, we realized that when we were engaged, we lost sight of the reason we wanted to marry each other in the first place. We were so focused on planning our wedding and dealing with all the wedding stress that we forgot for a bit what originally attracted us to each other.There is really so much we do to get ready for that one, big, special day. The question that we had to ask ourselves and that we now ask you is – do we pour ourselves into our marriages in the same way that we did planning for our wedding day? After all, our marriages should be filled with thousands of special days. After having that discussion, Mistianna and I realized that celebrating the small things in our marriage, like committing to 30 minutes of uninterrupted “Couch Time” each day (communication time and face to face talking), having regularly scheduled Date Nights, calling each other during the day to say “I Love You”, sending romantic and “hot” love texts during the day to one another, meeting for lunch for a quick unscheduled date, having regular budget meeting and making sure we go to church together and sit together when I am not needed or scheduled to serve as Deacon of the Mass are really as important as celebrating our Wedding Day.

Mistianna:​  While a Wedding Day is a very important and a very special day, it should be the beginning, and not the end, of a couple pouring their lives and love into one another. So, now that the wedding has been celebrated, and the honeymoon is over, do something to ensure that your marriage will last a lifetime. Actively pursue knowledge of your spouse now that you’re married. Ask questions, tell stories, and get to know the cast of characters in each other’s world. Practice empathy. Make it a habit to learn one new thing about each other, each day. Find out how you each receive care, compliments, and even correction. And don’t take this work for granted: It’s the foundation of intimacy in your marriage, and that is “HOT STUFF”.

Derrick:​       Finally, we’d like to recommend an awesome book that will really help you each discover your love language or the way you receive love and give love, and how your partner also responds to receiving and giving love. The book is by Gary Chapman, and it’s called “The Five Love Languages”. Falling in love is easy, we all know that; but, staying in love, well that’s the challenge. How can you keep your relationship fresh and growing after the honeymoon is over, amid the demands, conflicts, and just plain boredom of everyday life? In “The 5 Love Languages”, you’ll discover the secret that has transformed millions of relationships worldwide. Whether your relationship is flourishing or failing, Dr. Gary Chapman’s proven approach to showing and receiving love will help you experience deeper and richer levels of intimacy with your partner. The 5 Love Languages is as practical as it is insightful and it will definitely help create and develop the intimacy, you newlyweds are looking for as you work to build a marriage that WILL last a lifetime.

Good luck and God Bless!

Deacon Derrick Barnes and his wife Mistianna serve the parish of St. Margaret Mary in the Archdiocese of Louisville as well as the Louisville Engaged Encounter program.

Suicide Prevention is a Pro-Life Issue

by Ed Harpring

Tragically, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States, claiming over 40,000 lives per year. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the number of suicides in the United States is at its highest level in 30 years. Their 2016 report revealed a 24% increase in the number of suicides from 1999–2014. Even more alarming is the stark fact that suicide is now the third leading cause of death among persons aged 10-14, and the second among persons aged 15-34 years.

Ambassadors for Life, a newly formed group of high school students in the Archdiocese of Louisville, focuses on the full spectrum of “Life” issues, and is facilitated by the Pro-Life and Youth Ministries Offices. Because many of these young people know someone personally who has taken their life, they have asked us to focus on suicide prevention as one of our “Life” issues. The Ambassadors are right – suicide and suicide prevention is a Pro-Life issue, and it’s essential that we do more to arm our youths with the resources and formation tools to better understand the warning signs of suicide.

Studies confirm that approximately 90 percent of people who take their own lives have some type of mental disorder, primarily depression. Experts tell us that depression can originate from a variety of factors, making it particularly difficult to successfully treat.

St. John Paul II commented on the increase in suicide and depression in 2003:

The spread of depressive states has become disturbing. They reveal human, psychological and spiritual frailties which, at least in part, are induced by society. It is important to become aware of the effect on people of messages conveyed by the media which exalt consumerism, the immediate satisfaction of desires and the race for ever greater material well-being. It is necessary to propose new ways so that each person may build his or her own personality by cultivating spiritual life, the foundation of a mature existence.

Note the connection between our current cultural focus on consumerism, instant gratification, and the lack of meaning in life, especially for youths. St. John Paul II famously told millions of youths at World Youth Day what the solution is to depression and the lack of meaning in life that inundates our materialistic culture.

It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life.

Finally, St. John Paul II urged compassionate care for those who may show signs of depression:

In his infinite love, God is always close to those who are suffering. Depressive illness can be a way to discover other aspects of oneself and new forms of encounter with God. Christ listens to the cry of those whose boat is rocked by the storm (cf. Mk 4: 35-41). He is present beside them to help them in the crossing and guide them to the harbor of rediscovered peace.

Similarly, the Catholic Church urges hope, not despair, towards those who have lost their lives to suicide.

CCC 2283 We should not despair of the eternal salvation of persons who have taken their own lives. By ways known to him alone, God can provide the opportunity for salutary repentance. The Church prays for persons who have taken their own lives.

The increase in suicide, especially among adolescents is a major concern to the Church. There are many good resources that are available to better understand ways to prevent suicide. Listed below are resources to help prevent suicide and assist families who have experienced the death of a loved one by suicide:

http://www.ncpd.org/
https://afsp.org/
https://www.jedfoundation.org/

 

“Protecting Our Children”

by Martine Bacci Siegel

The return to school is an exciting time for most, but for some it simply serves as a short respite from abuse at home. Listed here are some behaviors school staff should be on the lookout for as they could be an indicator of a more serious problem. Remember, the Commonwealth of Kentucky is a mandatory reporting state. You MUST report any suspicions you have. If you believe a child is being abused, neglected or is dependent, please call the Child Protection Hotline number below or the Protection and Permanency office in your county or call the Child Protection Hot Line 1-877-KYSAFE1 (1-877-597-2331)

The online KY Child/Adult Protective Services Reporting System is available for professionals to report non-emer-gency situations that do not require an immediate response from staff. The website is monitored from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday. Reports will not be reviewed evenings, weekends or state holidays.

Here are a list of behaviors to look out for

  1. Changes in behavior. Abuse can lead to many changes in behavior. Abused children often appear scared, anxious, depressed, withdrawn or more aggressive.
  2. Returning to earlier behaviors. Abused children may display behaviors shown at earlier ages, such as thumb sucking, bed-wetting, fear of the dark or fear of strangers. For some children, even loss of acquired language or memory problems may be an issue.
  3. Fear of going home. Abused children may express apprehension or anxiety about leaving school or about going places with the person who is abusing them or exhibit an unusual fear of a familiar person or place.
  4. Changes in eating. The stress, fear, and anxiety caused by abuse can lead to changes in a child’s eating behaviors, which may result in weight gain or weight loss.
  5. Changes in sleeping. Abuse children may have frequent nightmares or have difficulty falling asleep, and as a result may appear tired or fatigued.
  6. Changes in school performance and attendance. Abused children may have difficulty concentrating in school or have excessive absences, sometimes due to adults trying to hide the children’s injuries from authorities.
  7. Lack of personal care or hygiene. Abused and neglected children may appear uncared for. They may present as consistently dirty and have severe body odor, or they may lack sufficient clothing for the weather.
  8. Risk-taking behaviors. Young people who are being abused may engage in high-risk activities such as using drugs or alcohol or carrying a weapon.
  9. Inappropriate sexual behaviors. Children who have been sexually abused may exhibit overly sexualized behavior or use explicit sexual language and may exhibit symptoms of a genital infection.
  10. Unexplained injuries. Children who have been physically abused may exhibit unexplained burns or bruises in the shape of objects. You may also hear unconvincing explanations of a child’s injuries.

 

“Sitting At The Feet Of Socrates”

by Deacon Stephen Bowling

At this time of the year when going back to school is on the mind of so many, I can’t help but wonder how many folks see learning as something that belongs only in the classroom.

One of my fondest memories as a child was of listening to an adult whom I loved – my father, mother, grandparents or whomever – tell me things about the world and life in general.

I learned how to plow a field from my grandfather, how to weed a garden from my mother (although I absolutely hated the task) and a great deal about the history of Western Civilization from my dad.

Through these and many other experiences, I came to learn that one of the very best ways to really learn something was to simply spend some significant time with a wise person, kind of like how Plato described learning from his mentor Socrates . . . he would just literally sit at his feet and listen.

Is this not one of the most beautiful treasures associated with the idea of family? Is not the family the very place where the passing along of wisdom from one generation to another is made a reality?

Just as faith is first taught in the home and through the family, cannot the same be said with regard to all forms of virtue and wisdom?

The family is the best of teachers, as it says in the blessing at the end of the Church’s Rite of Baptism, and as such it must always be a place where learning is a key component in its everyday life. While school may come into and out of session with the seasons, the family’s duty to “impart wisdom” is a responsibility which must always be kept both alive and active at all times and in all weathers.

As children grow, parents often look backwards and see how far and how fast they have come. Should not this all-too-common moment of reflection perhaps serve as a powerful motivator for each of us . . . encouraging us to “be present” for our children all that much more while they are still young and at home with us?

Conversation is the art of being uniquely human . . . it is the place where we learn to both listen and contribute to the betterment of both the world in general and, in particular, our places within it.

Perhaps our task this fall, as learning once again comes back into term, might be for us to spend some new time conversing with the young people whom we love and value. I suspect that this true gift from our hearts and minds would be one which would always be treasured . . . by both them and us.

What the Convocation of Catholic Leaders Was All About . . .

by Ed Harpring

A team from the Archdiocese of Louisville had the rare privilege of attending the Convocation of Catholic Leaders – “The Joy of the Gospel In America” – for four days in Orlando over this most recent Fourth of July weekend. I am delighted to have been a part of our local team attending this ground-breaking gathering along with over 3,000 attendees from dioceses, apostolates and Catholic organizations from all over the country.

I have attended many conferences in the past, but this one definitely did NOT follow the typical conference format of listening to speakers, taking notes and then sharing what you have learned when you return. This convocation was totally different.

According to one of the key organizers, Jonathan Reyes, Executive Director of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Department of Justice, Peace and Human Development, the convocation “aims to create a national conversation that will energize Catholic leaders to help the local Church go forth boldly and respond confidently to the concerns, challenges and opportunities of modernity with the perennial joy of the Gospel.

We have just been stunned by the number of apostolates, missions, ministries and services there are in this country that are all over the place — at the diocesan level, at the parish level, at the national level — and they are all doing good things. They are all asking the right questions in their own different way, but they’ve never been together in the same room. And we thought the bishops can call them all together for a moment of national unity — we need unity in a deep way, in both the Church and the wider culture — for a moment of confidence in the Gospel, to set out in the deep, and to just be called to be missionary disciples.

The Convocation will respond to four key questions:

  • What is the nature of this current historical moment in the Church and in our nation?
  • How do we respond to this moment as missionary disciples?
  • Where are we called to go and to whom are we being sent?
  • How will we engage this mission?

These are challenging questions, no doubt, but the Church is facing a more and more secular culture evidenced by the following alarming trends:

  • The total number of Catholics in the United States dropped by 3 million since 2007.
  • More than a third of all millennials – those born between 1981 and 1996 – claim no affiliation, and just 16 percent identify as Catholic.
  • For every one Catholic convert, more than six Catholics leave the church.
  • The number of unaffiliated, or the so-called “nones,” is shooting up to about 23 percent of the total population from just 16 percent seven years ago.

The bishops have identified two essential outcomes of the Convocation

  • The participants, with new insights, will be better prepared and energized to share the Gospel as missionary disciples.
  • They will equipped with new communications strategies and models of evangelization to meet the challenges of an ever increasing secular culture.

By all measures, the Convocation was an outstanding success, with many conversations still continuing via the many catholic news channels and social media sites.

Use the hashtag #CatholicConvo to join in the discussion and check out the Convocation’s webpage on the USCCB’s website at http://bit.ly/2tzXcjx with videos from the event as well as many other documents and bits of information.

 

 

Summers are Therapeutic!

by Martine Bacci-Siegel

Summer is here and the importance of some time to step away can’t be understated.   Stress, over time, has several negative effects on our well being. Some examples are our body’s ability to resist infection, maintain vital functions, and even the ability to avoid injury.   When we are stressed we become tired and start making poor decisions, lose our short term memory and be less fun to be with, ultimately becoming more isolated, lonely and in some cases depressed.

When it comes to the family and relationships vacations are a huge plus. Researchers at Purdue University concluded that family vacations greatly enhance family bonding, communication and solidarity. Shared family memories beyond everyday life experiences (work, school, etc…) promote positive long lasting ties. Here are some helpful tips for planning that family get-a-away.

PLAN AHEAD: Make sure you know what’s available at your destination ensuring all agree on an itinerary. While it may sometimes be stressful all deciding on a destination, ensuring everyone is on the same page well ahead of time, not only gives everyone something to look forward to early on, but also prevents headaches later on.

DON’T FEEL GUILTY: For checking your email while on vacation.   Nothing adds more stress to the last days of a vacation than thinking about the endless emails that may await your return. A good idea is to allot a small portion of your day to sneak a peek at your phone or laptop.

MAKE VACATION A TRUE ADVENTURE: Make no mistake; lying on the beach for a few hours is certainly in order if that is what will relax you the most, but new research shows that an active vacation involving new experiences can be very beneficial to your mental health. If possible, stray outside of that resort, hotel or cruise ship a bit. It will build new bonding experiences.

TAKE PLENTY OF PICUTRES: Long gone are the days of packing several rolls of film in our suitcases. Our smart phones can hold hundreds (if not thousands of pictures). Looking back on your memories will provide many moments of reflection with friends and family when life’s daily stressors take hold.

But most importantly have fun!

 

A Time To Notice . . .

by Michelle Herberger

There seems to be a growing sense of fatigue among many people, and it’s more than physical. Many lament the loss of times when things at least appeared to be simple and people were less divided. It’s especially important when one is feeling this way, to take time to recreate, renew, and refresh.

Summer has a way of beckoning us to slow down. There are those “lazy summer days” when temperatures necessitate a slower pace. Nature seems to be exploding with growth and the invitation to be still and notice. There is an abundance of things to savor, be it the fruits of the gardens, or the beauty of the firefly. All of creation calls us to “be still and know that I am God” and in that place to allow ourselves to experience a deep gratitude that gives comfort to the weary.

Let us take time to notice.