Sunday, January 22, 2012

Strengthening Your Family: A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home

strengthening your family

Strengthening Your Family:  A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home
  • Written by Marge Fenelon
  • Paperback Volume
  • 192 Pages
  • Forward by Most Reverend Archbishop Timothy Dolan (NY)
  • Suggested Price $14.95
  • Published by Our Sunday Visitor
I have two very beautiful boys.  They are at a tender age right now, and can be easily influenced.  The world is bombarding them with so much information, imagery, and indoctrination. They are the target of many subtle messages.  

According to most shows aimed at tweens, it's normal for families to be rude to each other, men are bumbling fools, kids with sassy mouths are cute and clever, parents and teachers are dumb, and it's okay to have a new girlfriend or boyfriend every episode.  Asperger Syndrome doesn't help - the naiveté that comes with the diagnoses, while endearing, often leaves them very vulnerable.

As their mother, I am a shepherd.  I have to steer them away from the wolves, and the dangerous dark forests, but in such a way that safe in the fold is where they want to be.  That isn't always easy.  The lure of the unknown can be strong.  With a constant bombardment of subliminal (and sometimes not so subliminal) messages about what is "normal" or what is "cool" I have my work cut out for me.

Marge Fenelon's book Strengthening Your Family:  A Catholic Approach to Holiness at Home was a very enjoyable read and welcome resource.  The book is easy to read.  Each chapter is written in plain language, as a mom.  She shares stories which most of us can relate to.  These are then used to point to areas where our families often weaken or falter.  Using her own life to illustrate her points she shares easy, practical advice.

Because of the style of writing, and by using her own family as an example, the book avoids a preachy tone.  It made me eager to read more, and kept me from feeling defensive if  I saw my own shortcomings in the pages.

As the chapters wind down, Mrs. Fenelon adds in reference to accepted Catholic writing or teaching.  She refers to these as "Strength for your Spirit".  This is followed by questions to ponder or activities which will help you evaluate your family, and find ways to integrate the suggestions.  These are labeled "Strength For your Family".  Last, she adds in prayer, "Strength for the Soul".  
We don't have to lose our children to pop culture.  We can raise them with strong character, real faith, and a desire for the sacraments without cutting them off from reality.  We can combat the barrage of negative input by nurturing spirituality and encouraging virtuous behavior.

When they were baptized, I made vows about how I would raise my boys.  I intend to be faithful to those vows, and Marge Fenelon's advice will help me to keep those promises.
Marge Fenelon is a Catholic, author, speaker, and columnist.
She and her husband, Mark, are members of the International Schoenstatt Movement and assist in the faith formation of young couples. The have four children, and a dog named Daisy.
I found the book to be very helpful, as well as enjoyable.  It is also solidly Catholic.


This review was written as part of the Catholic book reviewer program from The Catholic Company. Visit The Catholic Company to find more information on Strengthening Your Family. They are also a great source for a Catechism of the Catholic Church or a Catholic Bible.