On the Family is a 120-page book which contains 28 General Audiences given by Pope Francis from December 17, 2014 to September 16, 2015. The talks began shortly after the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family in October 2014. Each talk is approximately four pages long; these talks are taken from the period between the Extraordinary Synod in October 2014 and the Ordinary Synod in October 2015. Pope Francis begins by talking about Nazareth and the Holy Family. He then takes a methodical approach to the topic of family by discussing individual roles in the family including mother, father, children, siblings, grandparents, etc. He finally discusses the topics of male and female, marriage, death, wounded families, and of course evangelization.
The General Audience on Community I found most enlightening. We tend to think of our families as those we are related to by blood. However, Pope Francis reminds us that the Church is our spiritual family. All who believe in Jesus are part of the brotherhood, the Kingdom of God. Pope Francis also instructs that Jesus formed His own family by surrounding Himself with the Apostles, i.e., Peter and John. However, He also surrounded Himself with tax collectors, the elderly, the sick, and the margins of society. On the Family was a very quick read, because Pope Francis delivers a message that is straightforward and easily understood. Due to the approachable nature of his talks, one could read this book an hour or two at most, but they would miss the chance for reflection and meditation. I therefore recommend that you read through one chapter/talk per day. This will mean you finish the book in a month, but it will also give you proper time to chew on and digest the message.
DVD Study Programs have revolutionized the way we can share the Catholic faith with others. There have been some great ones produced, including Catholicism and Symbolon. Unfortunately, not everyone has the time or resources to commit to these studies. Dr. Sri took that into account when he wrote the book Love Unveiled, which is based on Symbolon. In this book, Dr. Sri explains the Catholic faith in a way that few have tried to do. The main premise of the book isn’t the tradition or rituals of the Catholic Church (though they are important.) Instead, he tells us,
“The Catholic Church stands for the God who is madly in love with you, who has a plan for you and wants you to be happy – the God who even sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to die for you, who wants to forgive you and help you in your life, and who, most of all, wants an intimate, personal relationship with you so that you can be with him forever in heaven.”
Re-read that and let it sink in. If every Catholic could adopt that message and share that message, we could set the world on fire!
The book is sixteen chapters long and covers all the tenets of the Catholic faith. It discusses who God is, Divine Revelation, Mary, the Sacraments and so much more. However, instead of a dry presentation of this is what we believe and this is why we believe it, Dr. Sri presents all these aspects through the lens of God’s love. For example, people can choose to look at the cross as a torture device, but we instead look at it as the ultimate symbol of love. Some might choose to look at Confession as unnecessary or even an invasion of privacy. Why do they need it if they can just go to God and confess their sins? Instead, the Church views it as a loving way to reconcile man with God and His Church. As you can see from just these two examples, love is the underlying theme of this book and of the Catholic Church. Unfortunately, too many people have forgotten that truth.
Dr. Sri has a way of explaining the faith that makes it simple without taking away the profound nature of it all. If you are in an RCIA program, new to the faith, or just looking to deepen your appreciation of the Catholic faith, then this is the book for you. Love Unveiled is highly recommended for all and would make a great gift for graduating seniors who might be moving away for the first time ever.
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Copyright 2016 Stuart Dunn