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Book Review: "The Choice of the Family, A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness" By Bishop Jean Laffitte

Abigail Benjamin

Our Pope is coming in a few weeks to join the World Meeting of Families from September 22- 25, 2015 in Philadephia.  I don't have hotel reservations, or a press pass. Instead, I'm preparing to meet Papa in an intimate audience, inside my own heart! 

The current secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family, French Bishop Jean Laffitte, has released a new book which is a fantastic read for all married Catholics. The book's meaty title demonstrates Bishop Laffitte's rich theology, "The Choice of the Family: A Call to Wholeness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness." 

Bishop Laffitte is the youngest of 12 children. His viewpoint on family life in the 21st Century is both diverse and practical. "The Choice of the Family" is a book is based on an interview the Bishop had with a married couple, Pierre and Veronique Sanchez. I usually read books by celibate priests and religious saints. This theology book is unique because it is specifically geared towards finding holiness inside a marriage. I felt grateful to find the theological dimensions of my everyday actions as a wife and mother explained with depth and dignity.

Bishop Laffitte describes the spiritual importance of family life. He is also realistic about the many problems faced by marriages around the world. Bishop Laffitte addresses the problems of cohabitation, adultery, and even seemingly more mundane stresses, such as the cost that excess commuting can take on a marriage.  Bishop Laffitte also describes the suffering that parents feel when they have taught their Christian faith to their children who later abandon it as adults. Bishop Laffitte says "these parents live out a particular trial where they no longer perceive that they have sown anything." (pg. 167).

Bishop Laffitte presses all of us to think deeply about this issue of education. He says "To educate means to give to a child or to an adolescent the means for his freedom and his future autonomy. . . The gift of an education does not have to return to its source in the form of a copy conforming to what the parents were able to do." (pg. 168). As a Mom who homeschools, I'm going to mediate on that concept this year. My prayer is to make my teaching more of a gift of pure love to God alone, rather than expecting my child's growth or future accomplishments to make me "look good".  

"The Choice of the Family" is a dense read. I liked reading this book in small sections and then mentally chewing it over its ideas inside my mind. I'm so happy to have found a "stretch read" to help me prepare my heart for the World Meeting of Families.  

For more book reviews on "The Choice of the Family" please check out the blog tour from Image Books from August 26 to September 2, 2015.