The Church – Mother, Teacher, Family – By Dr. Patricia Mann, Ph.D.


The other day my stepmother visited and brought with her two boxes that had belonged to my deceased mother. One contained her college yearbooks, the other held a variety of sports trophies she had won.

The boxes, sitting now in my foyer, present me with a quandary. While they represent a wealth of memories, relationships, and achievements dear to my mother, they have limited meaning for me. I am one generation removed from the joys and struggles they represent. If I put them in my garage, they will have little or no personal meaning to my sons when they find the boxes on my demise. Yet, to dispose of them seems somehow sacrilegious. How fleeting is the mark we make here on earth!

One of the great blessings of the Catholic faith is the belief that our lives have infinite meaning. As part of the Communion of Saints, we continue to live on in the entire faith community, not just in the memories of our succeeding generations. We are blessed in the Catholic Church with a family that offers us the promise of eternal life in Christ and in the Communion of Saints.

As Mother, Teacher, and Family, the Church also strengthens our earthly families with ties of love, purpose, and meaning that are unbounded by space and time.

The Church is our Mother, a source of life. There is perhaps no other bond that matches that of a mother and child as to the depth of love and devotion. Through her role as the parent, she opens her arms to embrace us in good times and bad. She never abandons us, no matter how far we may go astray. She is the vehicle of our sanctification in Baptism. It is through the Sacraments that she nurtures our faith and keeps it vibrant and alive in Christ.

My best teachers were the ones who believed in me and my ability to succeed. The way they lived was equally as important as what they said. While the Church teaches our families about Christ, she also models for us what the Christian family can be by her characteristics of universality, holiness, and unity. She not only teaches, she is Teacher by her very nature.

The wonderful reality about the Church is that in her, we are members of the “Family of families.” Our earthly families are embraced by a truly extended family that is eternal. Through our membership in the Church and the Communion of Saints, our lives and their significance do not fade away like unrecognizable faces in a yearbook, but are destined to shine forever in the heavenly kingdom with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Dr. Patricia Mann holds a Ph.D. in Religious Education from The Catholic University of America. She has more than 20 years of experience as a DRE, with a special emphasis on adult faith formation and initiation..

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The Meaning of Human Sexuality – By Colleen Gerke

God is love and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image… God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion. – Catechism of the Catholic Church #2331

Human love is a fantastic mystery. God, our creator and the one who loves us beyond understanding made us with a longing; a desire to connect intimately, to please and to sacrifice for another. The mystery of attraction is fascinating. In my own experience I met my husband on a blind date. A college friend set us up and her words to me were, “He is very nice, but not that cute.” What I experienced at first sight was totally different than her assessment. His eyes were a clear vivid blue, inviting and kind. I felt totally at ease in his presence and we found much in common to continue an easy conversation throughout that first date. Why was he “the one” for me? I can only answer that with, “He was a gift from God.” There is a mystery in what attracts one person to another that was active when I first set eyes on my husband. That initial attraction led to a desire to having a better understanding of his likes, dislikes, interests, priorities, and the events that filled his days. That initial attraction left me with a desire to see him on a daily basis and to gain a deeper understanding of him as a person. It left me with a childlike enthusiasm that left open to the gift of a budding relationship. This childlike enthusiasm reminds me of the scripture, “Amen, I say to you, whoever does not accept the kingdom of God like a child will not enter it,” (Mark 10:15).

I can only imagine that the gift of attraction is similar when a man or woman experiences the call of a celibate life dedicated to Jesus. There must be a reoccurring urge to spend time with Jesus to gain a deeper understanding of Him. There must be a childlike enthusiasm and openness to build that relationship into a lasting bond.

My love had a witty sense of humor, a love of God and the Church, and impulsivity that appealed to me. I wanted to learn more about him. Do you remember what first attracted you to your spouse, fiancé, Jesus? It is good to revisit that memory and reignite that desire and childlike enthusiasm.

From this mystery of attraction and unitive desire comes an energy that witnesses beauty, truth and goodness. The beauty is each of us becomes a better person because of this loving relationship that calls us beyond ourselves. A truth that we are loved for who we are and the love that we share between each other radiates out to those we encounter. The contagious goodness that comes from the loving relationship by its very nature transforms not only us, but others.

Can you remember walking into a room and someone saying one of the following: Are you in love? What’s different? Why are you smiling from ear to ear? Do you have a secret to tell me? Revisit that time when you could not spend enough time with your love, learning and being.

Colleen has been married to husband John for 33 years; they have 5 children. She is beginning her sixth year as Director of the Family and Respect Life Office in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

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