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Blog - Blogue

  • Coming "Home" and the Synod

    Thursday, November 12, 2015

    Home is curling up on daddy’s knee, like a cat nuzzling into his chest, lapping up the attention.

    Home is a quiet walk after supper. Digesting a good meal while taking in the sunset.

    Home is wild, wonderful love-making. The experience of being completely accepted and cherished by someone when you are your most vulnerable and naked self; and believing that it will last forever. Perhaps as close to seeing the Face of God as it comes in the here and now.

    Home is attending Mass together, getting baptized and going to bathtizsms (as my 3 year-old aptly dubbed them) of siblings and cousins. Getting married, and giving your children away in marriage. Celebrating the final repose of a much loved family member with tears, laughter, and simply being together.

    If this resonates with you, count yourself among the lucky ones. These are the simple delights and the profound moments of life that are yours thanks to a strong and loving family. These are good things. God wants us to have them. This is the gift of family, of home.

    Most of us don’t have all of them. Some have next to none. Others have been dealt a very raw deal on the home front.

    Home is an alcoholic spouse, constantly wheeling on the edge of self-destruction, always threatening to pull the family apart.

    Home is struggling day in day out to keep it together. To pay the bills. To stretch an increasingly watered down soup amongst a family of 8, with the 9th on the way.

    Home is living in the perpetual state of being exhausted and overworked with no wages and few “thank yous” to show for it.

    Home is trying not to drive into a lamppost on the way home from work because you are afraid of what’s waiting for you when you get there.

    Home is exile, ridicule, and disgrace, thanks to living with same sex attraction.

    Home is not giving a flip about religion and God because of what your family or your Church has put you through.

    Depending on what your idea of home is, your perception of what just happened in Rome at the Synod on the Family is probably very different.

    For me, the experience of watching the reaction to the dialogue that took place brings the story of the Prodigal Son very much to mind. Hearing our Holy Father calling for a change of approach, of a new pastoral impetus in the Church, I pictured this rich king dropping everything and running out to meet his son who was returning.

    It was moving.


    Yet, in honesty, I always thought that the poor faithful son in the parable was dealt quite the raw deal. He was left standing there, bereft, as his father runs out towards the wayward son, the ingrate. How painful. How humiliating. I think many faithful Catholics can identify with his experience as we watched discussions at the Synod progress. The wind of change that seems to be blowing, risking to uproot the timeless institution brought up the possibility of Henry the 8th all over again.

    An argument against the analogousness of the parable and the movement of the Synod was that the wayward son was returning, repenting, willing to be converted. The “progressives” in the Synod weren't taking that part seriously. They were watering it down, leading people astray, offering love without Truth, which isn’t love at all. People must be repenting in order to receive grace, the son was on his way home.

    But here is the crux of the problem: What if the wayward son in the parable had never known home in the first place? What would he be returning home to? How would he know what was waiting for him?

    This is the situation we find ourselves. A good deal of the people in our world and our Churches have zero idea of what “home” is supposed to be about. What true family is. This was at the heart of what the struggle at the Synod. How to give people an idea of what we, as a Church, are possible of; how the Church can enrich our lives and our families, when some are “a long way off” and going in the other direction, not coming home at all. Not because they’re not interested. But because they were never home in the first place. Worse, because their idea of “home” is horrible and hurtful.

    The Synod was a working out of how the faithful, and not so faithful, have experienced home and what a true home in our parishes and our families would look like. It was the start of a dialogue that will make it possible to create a healthy home for those who never had one. It was a time to ask ourselves how we can "go out to the peripheries", to those who haven't experienced it and give them the taste of home.

    If you want to hear from those who took part in this gift to the Church that was the Synod on the Family, you can do so by registering here and joining us next week at Dominican University College in Ottawa.

    We are very privileged to have Fr. Peter Galadza, an Eastern Rite priest and Presbytera Olenka Galadza (his wife) open the conference by sharing with us how they strive to live their mission as a Christian home. Fr. Tom Rosica and Bishop Paul-André Durocher will keynote Friday and Saturday, offering their most important takeaways from their time at the Synod. We also hope to hear your ideas on how the Church can better serve you and your family, and more importantly how you can be of service in your homes, thanks to the tools, the Truth, Grace and Love offered by the Synod.

    Click here to see the poster for DUC's conference The Synod and My Family.

  • Want to be heard? Listen!

    Saturday, July 11, 2015

    Some are wishing Pope Francis would just shut up already and be on his overly merry way. But most every jumbled, joyful, statement that comes out of his Argentinian mouth makes me want to stand up and cheer. Somewhat like watching the jester in a Shakespearian play - bumbling along breaking the rules of conduct, happily ignoring all normal protocol, yet smashing directly to the heart of things.


    An immensely readable Pope, he’s one that will go down in history as a terrific marketer, if not a Great Saint. The amount of ink that has been spilled over this one man’s words on all sides - religious and secular, right and left, progressive and conservative - is incomparable. He’s made more headlines in the last couple years than any other topic or figure worldwide. In our information saturated world, that is quite the feat. Working in PR, I watch him in amazement, trying to learn a thing or two.


    When we’re talking about the faith, there’s a temptation to focus on the message. On crafting the correct formulation, on making good theological arguments, on painting a clear picture about what a life of faith involves.


    In marketing, they say “tell your story”. People will identify with you and buy what you’re selling.


    This is true.



    But it doesn’t get to the heart of it.

    It doesn’t cut to the quick.


    What about their story?


    Do you care a lick about the people you’re speaking to? Do you pay attention to their language, their concerns, their struggles, their hopes, their desires . . . ?


    This comes first. In order to tell your story, you need to get out of the way enough to listen. To hear their story.


    You’ll notice the themes that surface in Laudaute si cover quite the gamut. He’s on about everything from unbridled capitalism, to climate change, to abortion, to, and especially, where the poor fall in all this.


    We are digging our own grave and tossing the poor of the world in first to soften our landing.


    We’re blowing our college fund on a sports car; there won’t be much left of the world of nature at the rate we’re burning it up. And those who suffer most from this are those who have least.

    He gives both sides what they want, makes connections, builds bridges and then drives home his point. It’s not a matter of simply “branding” or “sticking to the message”. He reaches across party lines. He reaches to the people.

    Business. The economy. As marketers, we’re tempted to think: “It’s about the money, stupid.”


    Maybe. But not for the long-term. To continue selling, you have to continue hearing what your customers need, adapt, and then refine.

    The good ones (in business or religion) tell us:

    It’s about the people, stupid.


    Are you speaking in a way that they feel they’ve been heard?


    This is the first question to resolve.


    Then you can tell your story.


    Pope Francis, more than most, has figured this out. He’s notorious for responding to letters. Phoning people at random who reach out to him, people usually never expecting a response. In his speaches and in his writing, he weaves together a wide range of perspectives: he shows proof of having walked more than a few miles in different pairs of shoes. He hears the concerns of the people, and makes them feel heard.


    As a marketer, and even more so as a Christian, this is important.

    The economy of salvation is gratuitous love. Completely free.

    But it needs to be received. To get there, people need to want to listen to you. The best way to do that, is to make them felt listened to.

    I stand in awe of our Dear Pope as he leads what is more of a parade than a reform.

    Fun. Effortless. Free.


    By his choice of words and tone he reaches out to those who don’t normally give two shakes about the Church (NYTimes is his # 1 fan), he then asks those who are already on board with the Church to take a humbler approach, to look beyond the issues they’ve already got resolved, and to be self-critical instead of judgmental.


    Straight up Gospel.


    Making sure to kiss as many babies as he can along the way.


    He weaves together themes from all sides but does not fail to challenge everyone for the same price.


    By word and deed, he says:

    "I hear you. I get it. Now be your better self. We can do this together.

    And praised be!"