Possible Preaching Themes
Possible Scientific Resources
- The nature of attachment theory, especially between parents and children.
- The power of adoption and the nature of stepparenting.
- On attachment theory and family bounds
- The process of stepparenting
- The psychology of adoption https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/adoption
- The hidden impact of adoption https://www.family-institute.org/behavioral-health-resources/hidden-impact-adoption
- parenting after adoption https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/adopt-parenting/ .
Homily Outline Combining Resources
Homily outline on parenting and family bonds
- The concept of family goes beyond blood:
- Experiences of adoption and foster parenting demonstrate that it is about establishing bonds and relationships.
- It is what Vatican II calls the “domestic church” (Lumen Gentium, 11).
- The feast of the Holy Family provides opportunities to talk about the importance of parenting in all of its diverse forms, e.g., stepparents, foster parents, etc.
- She is a well-developed figure in the Catholic imagination as Mother of the second Person of the Holy Trinity.
- She is celebrated for her remarkable and wholehearted commitment to God’s plan for our salvation in Christ.
- The fiat of Mary is the reference of our own Fiat to God’s will.
- Without doubt Mary shaped the life and mission of Jesus.
- A more hidden figure but very important in God’s salvation plan
- Like Mary visited by Gabriel, he was also visited by an angel confirming that he too was chosen by God
- The archangel Gabriel appears to Joseph as well
- Joseph was also faithful to God’s plan
- As his protector and head of the household he also undoubtedly shaped the life of Jesus.
- In December 2021, Pope Francis proclaimed a year dedicated to Saint Joseph: “St. Joseph reminds us that those who appear hidden or in the shadows can play an incomparable role in the history of salvation. A word of recognition and of gratitude is due to them all,” https://www.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_letters/documents/papa-francesco-lettera-ap_20201208_patris-corde.html
- Parenting can be stressful
- Even in nuclear families with biological offspring, parenting is challenging.
- Psychologists even recognize the category of “parenting stress”:
- the feeling as a parent that you cannot cope with a situation, the demands are too high, and you don’t have the resources to respond https://parentingscience.com/parenting-stress/ .
- In single parent families, or families with adopted or foster children, that stress can be higher.
- While attachment is a normal expectation between parents and children
- it is not a black and white affair, and adoptees face extra difficulties in successful attachment relationships https://www.family-institute.org/behavioral-health-resources/hidden-impact-adoption .
- Attachment is complicated as children discover or want to explore relationships with their birth parents and/or biological siblings.
- The Christmas season can be a particular time for family stress https://www.theguardian.com/science/brain-flapping/2017/dec/20/festive-stress-why-the-christmas-season-can-be-anything-but-merry .
- Because of workloads and time demands
- Family estrangement
- Financial restraints
- Expectations around gifts, especially by children.
- The Holy Family was not a stress-free family:
- Mary was pregnant by a mysterious source.
- Joseph considered divorcing her.
- They had to make a long trip to Bethlehem while Mary was in the late stages of her pregnancy.
- The life of their newborn was threatened by King Herod.
- The young family had to flee to Egypt.
- They even “lost” Jesus in the Temple on a family pilgrimage to Jerusalem.
- Pope Francis noted: In the Gospel, we see that even in the Holy Family things did not all go well: There were unexpected problems, anxiety, suffering. The Holy Family of holy cards does not exist,” https://www.ncronline.org/news/theology/francis-chronicles/even-holy-family-felt-stress-pope-tells-families .
- Grace and generosity in the midst of imperfection:
- The image of a perfect family is a myth and actually can be destructive https://www.mentalhelp.net/relationships/the-perfect-family/ .
- The grace of the “domestic church” is not the grace of a flawless family unit
- rather it is the grace of God’s presence in every family despite its flaws.
- The Holy Family provides an image of family diversity:
- A husband and wife who never consummated their marriage bond
- A son with no biological father
- A stepfather and stepson
- The death of the stepfather at some stage, leaving Mary a widow.
- Each family is its own configuration of grace.
- The mission is to find the grace in the imperfections
- To embrace the beauty and the flaws that make each family distinctive.
- Families with adopted children or foster children, households with grandparents or other configurations of “extended families”
- Are distinctive images of God’s own generosity.
- Jesus himself understood that his “mother and brothers” are the people who do God’s will (Mark 3:31-5).
- In a similar way, each family is invited in the image of the Holy Family similarly to open themselves to such inclusiveness and generosity
- According to their own means and circumstances
- Doing so can enhance the grace and growth of the nuclear family itself.
Preaching with Sciences
Edward Foley, Capuchin
Duns Scotus Professor Emeritus of Spirituality
Professor of Liturgy and Music (retired)
Catholic Theological Union
Vice-Postulator, Cause of Blessed Solanus