This article was originally published in The Catholic Weekly.
Last week I attended the Catholic Digital Media Conference in Sydney which was a very inspiring and encouraging event. There was so much wisdom, passion, experience, and talent among the delegates that the energy generated was very infectious.
One of the more profound things I heard was from a presenter who quoted from an interview with Fr Tom Rosica CSB, who is the head of Salt and Light media.
Fr Rosica had said: “Now is the time to work together, stand up, be proud of being Catholic, interface with the world, communicate and be in dialogue. I recently did a little study of Pope Francis’ homilies and texts to find all of the places where Francis talks about the devil, and one of the interesting things he says is that diabolical works are about monologue. The works of the Spirit are about dialogue. Monologue is all about people speaking to themselves about themselves and speaking about others, not speaking with others. Works of the Spirit are those based on solid dialogue.”
Fr Rosica was talking about Catholic media but I immediately thought there much in this we can relate to our personal and family life as well. If I ever feel frustrated or discouraged it’s been on days when I’ve had an uninterrupted running commentary going on in my own head – a monologue which spirals increasingly smaller, narrower, and darker.
It’s only when I’ve gone to Mass, or talked to a friend or my Mum, or Peter has come home and made me open up to him that I’ve felt right again.
The same thing happens in marriage. We need to open it to a trusted, objective perspective and firstly this is the Church, but it’s also our like-minded friends and their families, and our own extended families.
A married couple where the spouses are closed in upon each other can stagnate in a monologue, because marriage is not only a gift to the spouses and any children they may have but a missionary activity, a dialogue with the wider world. A marriage’s circulation is cut off when it is not continually re-engaged in some sort of life-giving work offered to others.
We always need to go out, literally and figuratively. As well as raising our families (or instead of, if we’re unable to have children) we need to take active roles in the wider community, especially as a couple. We help others, and we are helped ourselves.
This can be as simple as cooking a meal once a month and delivering it to another family or a person living alone, or organising a group family beach picnic once a year.
A full, active, creative life needs community, because we’re made in the image and likeness of God who is a community of persons, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Pope Emeritus Benedict referred to the Church as a family of families. Let’s draw upon other people and other families for encouragement, support, and injections of fresh ideas and energy. It is too easy to become trapped in the confines of our little worlds, our own heads, our own little nuclear family, even our own small community.
We must always be looking beyond our personal limitations for inspiration because the Holy Spirit blows where it wills, whether deep within ourselves, in our Church, and in many unexpected places as well.
And then let’s go out, fed by our prayer and communion with God and others, and show the world how this life is really done!