We Catholic Patheosi, in anticipation of the Synod on the Family, will be holding a little synod of our own over the next few days, discussing the Catholic understanding of the family.  Accordingly, I’m posting a little two parter I hope will be useful in situating the family in the Church’s theology and in helping to clarify the way in which the good of the family is at the heart of Catholic social teaching.
Here beginneth Part One:
My nephew Tom came home from first grade in anguish. At dinner he could barely keep the tears out of his six year old eyes. When his parents pressed him to find out what was wrong, he replied that “this kid at school says I have a funny name.” His parents glanced at each other, thinking, “‘Tom Shea’ is a funny name?” So summoning their best parental wisdom, they told him to ignore the kid and he would go away.
Of course, this didn’t work. The kid kept it up for another day or two till Tom was really beginning to worry: maybe he did have a funny name.
Finally, Tom’s parents decided it was time to take action. Reasoning that they would have to go talk to his folks, they asked at dinner that night, “What’s the boy’s name, Tom?”
Tom looked at them, blinked his big blue innocent eyes and said, “Farquhar Muckenfussen, Jr.”
Minutes later, after Tom’s parents had crawled out from under the kitchen table (whence they had slid in their uncontrollable convulsions of laughter), wiped the milk off the wall (don’t laugh with your mouth full) and daubed the tears from their eyes, they explained to their little boy what other issues might be driving little Farquhar to bully Tom about his name.
I think of this story often when I reflect on the place of the Christian

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