Saturday, July 12, 2008

What is the Holy Family Institute?

Who we are
We are Catholic couples, or the widowed, who wish to live our lives in a more consistent, God-oriented way. We draw inspiration from the Holy Family of Nazareth, model, light and source of grace. The goal we set ourselves is the sanctification of married/widowed life and we welcome the gift of consecration by Church-regulated vows of married Chastity, Poverty, and Obedience. We commit ourselves to making Christ's love reign in our hearts and in the hearts of our children.

What we do
We share in the spirituality of the Pauline Family and accomplish our mission as true members of the Family by our presence in the parish community. Depending on the time available, we are involved with Cenacles and Prayer Meetings, we sponsor couples preparing for marriage, help those in difficulty and support life from beginning to end. Many of us, however, devote themselves entirely to their families and home-school their children. We are concerned with the negative influence of the mass-media, but we also recognize their potential for good and we offer our lives for a blessing on media well-used and for God's mercy on famlies damaged by media misuse.

Why we do it
To respond to God's call to holiness by a Church-regulated commitment, and to support His saving action in view of the family.

Taken from the official website of the Holy Family Institute:

Married couple promises holiness

This is a beautiful and rare video of a married couple making perpetual profession in the Holy Family Institute. Fr. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP recorded this video recently. I am so happy to see it on YouTube, because I have been unable to make it to our annual triduum where members renew their profession or make perpetual profession. Thank you, Fr. Jeffrey, for posting this video!

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Prayer with HFI members

Yesterday my family was blessed to participate in a holy hour with other HFI
members. The members meet every first Saturday at the Daughters of St.
Paul in Metairie, LA. They meet in the chapel for a “holy hour,” which
should really be called a “holy hour-and-a-half!” The hour consists of
vocal prayer, a reflection, and time for quiet meditation.

It was so good to be with other Paulines. This was the first time that our schedule allowed us to make the first Saturday event. The school year is just too hectic. However, being the summer, attendance at the holy hour was light. But that was okay. We were just happy to be there.

We also had the chance to visit for a short while with Sr. Julia Darrenkamp, FSP. We hadn't seen her in a long time. She is the Pauline sister of Best Catholic Books YouTube fame. You can find her videos here: You also may want to check out the Daughters of St. Paul's website for excellent resources for the Pauline Year:

Lastly, John and Jackie Ghawaly, if you are reading... it was so good to see you yesterday. We so enjoyed being with you, and we hope to make this a priority each month. May the Divine Master bless you abundantly!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

It's not the "why," but the "what" and "how" that matter

For most of my life I have asked the question "why?" And that is normal... to a point. But when my concern for why prevents me from moving forward, then there is a problem.

For the last two years my family and I have been dealing with a terrible situation with our house. There are far too many details to get into here, but I can say that the problems stem from us purchasing a house with concealed defects. Those defects were only discovered a few months after we bought the house. The results of this unfortunate purchase? Displacement from our home for 10 months. Losing the use of the entire upstairs after moving back home. Living in complete chaos downstairs with so little space. Living with stress so terrible that we had to put the kids in school instead of continuing to homeschool. Tremendous financial strain and debt that has left us crippled financially. And law suits... against our insurance company, the seller, the roofers... everybody.

Over the last two years I have asked "why?" many, many times. Why, God? Why us? Why now? Why this? But all of my whys made it very difficult to move forward. At some point, I began to understand that "why?" isn't a question that God tends to answer much. As a matter of fact, not even Job could get an answer to that question. It seems that, at least in God's eyes, "why" simply is not important. God never answers my whys. But I've learned that he does answer other questions... especially 'what?" and "how?"

What, Lord, do I do now?

How do I do it?

These are questions that He is answering... slowly, in His time.

Why a Year of St. Paul?

Why St. Paul? We hear his name in the Sunday Liturgy, followed frequently by a reading which makes only limited sense and which the homilist may not refer to at all. And so the great Saint, who is the main reason why we Gentiles belong to a worldwide movement called "Christianity," has still to be discovered by most of us. St. Paul turned the work of Jesus out to the whole world and for that every nation and every century has to thank him.

There are so many facets of St. Paul to focus on for this year: his conversion, his preaching, his journeys, his martyrdom. But the one thing I want to focus on this year is Paul as a person, Paul as a human being like myself. In this way, he becomes much more accessible and much closer to my own experience of the Christian life. Paul was a man utterly enamored of the Lord, incessantly active in word and deed to tell the world about his fascinating Friend, and reaching out in every possible way to bring the Good News to anybody who would listen. It is this human Paul, rejoicing when his message is accepted but grieving like a mother over her errant children when he hears bad news, who should be known and loved.

Too many, if they know anything about him at all, see St. Paul as an early Christian writer, doubtless of importance to the early Christians, but with little to link him to our times. Such a view could not be more wrong, not only because his profound teaching will be relevant in every age until the end of time, but because he conveyed that teaching in such a passionate, exuberant and dramatic way in his immortal letters. Little did he think, as he agonized over those relatively few converts he made personally, that all this heart-breaking work would eventually disappear - with the exception of the Church in Malta. Little did he think he was writing for the Christian ages to come and not just for those few unreliable Christians he made and often wept over.

It is this great human being, great Saint and our great Patron in the Pauline Family that we are now going to focus on this year. With him as our leader we will experience something of what he experienced, and we will learn to love the Divine Master he loved so much.

--Slightly adapted from "The Great Apostle," a limited publication of the Holy Family Institute

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The Examination of Conscience... What is it?

"Examination of Conscience" sounds peculiar to modern ears. I teach high school. A typical teen reaction to "Examination of Conscience" is "Eeeewwww. What is THAT???"

Well, believe it or not, it's not as scary as it sounds. At least, it usually isn't.

So, what is an Examination of Conscience? It is simply an opportunity to stop and honestly reflect (in God's presence) on the condition of one's soul, on the way in which one is living the Christian life. This reflection takes only a few moments. We look at our day to see if we are living up our baptismal promises. We look at our actions to see if they befit a child of God. If not, then we simply ask God to forgive us and give us the strength to do better. The whole point of the examination of conscience is to make progress in the Christian life.

There are three basic examinations we can make: preventive, particular, and general.

The preventive examination usually takes place in the morning. We look at our usual faults and make a simple plan for the day on how to improve in those areas.

The particular examination focuses on what is called our predominant fault. Everyone has a predominant fault. It is the one area in which we fall most often. It is usual bound up with our personalities. Pride, selfishness, envy, greed, anger... these are some examples of predominant faults. These are ingrained sins that influence our daily actions and relationships. It is helpful to make the particular examination around midday. It is like a check-up. "How am I doing so far with this fault? What can I do better?"

The general examination takes place at night, usually just before bed. It is a time to review the day and to mark one's progress. Once again, we look at the areas in which we failed, and we ask forgiveness. But we also look at the times that we succeeded. That moment when I almost lost my temper, but by God's grace it was held in check. The gossip at the water cooler that I was able to avoid... by God's grace. By looking at our little successes we can see how God is really work in our daily lives. The general examination helps us to take our spiritual temperature. It also helps us prepare for the day ahead.

So, the examination of conscience is really a simply matter. It takes only a few minutes and, according to many saints, is very effective in nurturing our growth in Christ. It may be an excellent tool to help us enter more deeply into this Pauline Year.

Tuesday, July 01, 2008

Fr. Jeffrey Mickler, SSP on the Pauline Year

St. Paul, pray for us!

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Holy Spirit Interactive in the Family

How do we allow the Holy Spirit to interact with us everyday in our family relationships? We believe that he is really present in our hearts and lives. Outside of prayer time, how often are we aware of his loving, gentle presence? How much do we allow him to interact with us through each other? God is love and where there is love, there is God. The sacred life-giving love of spouses and parents is a sacramental sign of God's presence and creative action. When two or more are gathered together in Jesus' name, he is in their midst. Is this not true when spouses, parents and children are gathered together in Jesus' name?

The Holy Spirit is a real person, a Divine person, a gentle person who never forces himself on us. As we come to know him better and acknowledge our need for him, we will listen to his gentle inspirations. We will allow him to transform us, empower us and act through our weaknesses too. He loves each one of us as we are and in the state of life in which God calls us.

....To read the whole article click here: Holy Spirit Interactive in the Family....

Monday, July 23, 2007

The Feast of St. Sharbel

St. Sharbel (also spelled Charbel) is a saint of the Maronite Catholic Church. His feast day is July 24th. He was canonized by Pope Paul VI on October 9, 1977.

Here is what the Holy Father had to say about St. Sharbel:

"...a hermit of the Lebanese mountain is inscribed in the number of the blessed, a new eminent member of monastic sanctity is enriching, by his example and his intercession, the entire Christian people. May he make us understand, in a world largely fascinated by wealth and comfort, the paramount value of poverty, penance and asceticism, to liberate the soul in its ascent to God..."

To read more about St. Sharbel visit