Return of the Prodigal Son by Pompeo Batoni - 1773

Evolution for the Catholic Student

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Sunday, January 29, 2012



          Father Stan Fortuna has been called the rapping priest.  He is a musician from the Bronx who experienced a reawakening of his Catholic faith as a young adult.  That reawakening revealed a call to the priesthood.  Now as a priest Father Fortuna uses his musical talents to give glory to God and to preach to young people the message of faith, chastity, devotion to the Eucharist, etc.

          Another important theme Father Fortuna focuses on is family.  At youth conferences it is not uncommon to see young people walking around with bracelets saying, “F.A.M.I.L.Y.,” a reference to Father Fortuna’s acronym for family, “Forget About Me, I Love You.”

          It’s a simple message about sacrificial love that most Catholics understand, but its simplicity is its brilliance.  Because though we may understand the concept of sacrificial love and its importance in the family, putting it into practice is really hard.  Father Fortuna’s acronym can be a powerful reminder, even a mantra to inspire us to live our family life as we are called.

          For example, we may come home from work exhausted.  Sometimes I don’t feel like I can do anything but collapse.  Just making it to the couch is an achievement.  Then my boys come running in wanting to wrestle or play ball or something.  I haven’t had their kind of energy for 20 years, but they need their dad.  Forget About Me, I Love You.  So I get up.

          Or maybe I’ve finally gotten the kids to sleep and would love to have fifteen minutes to read before bed but my wife wants to talk about something that may be fascinating to her, but would take all my remaining strength to muster up an interest in.  (To be fair, that describes her life from April to September when she has to listen to my fantasy baseball ramblings.)  I want to read, she wants to talk.  Forget About Me, I Love You.  So I listen.

          I’m not suggesting we never take time to rest or read or nap or watch a football game, or whatever, even occasionally when other people may want our time.  Those things are necessary.  But how easy it is to make those needs primary and our family members’ secondary.  I’ve found it very helpful when I’m faced with one of those choices to repeat in my head, “Forget About Me, I Love You.”  More times than not it inspires me to give more of myself than maybe I thought I could.

          Imagine if that really were the mission statement of our families.  What if we taught our kids that that’s what family means?  What if our families had adults and children all trying to “Forget About Me, I Love You?”

          As Catholics we are not Utopians.  Our perfect home is Heaven and this world will never even come close.  But we also have high standards.  We do try to bring Heaven to Earth as much as we can.  And that starts in our families.  We don’t have to expect perfection in our families even if we strive for it.  But if we keep in mind what F.A.M.I.L.Y. really means, and try our best to put it into practice and teach it to our kids, we will make our home a beautiful place and a safe place from which to begin to transform our culture as well.