Ok, so here we have our second part interview with Dr. Bartel, author of A Catechism for Family Life: Insights from Catholic Teaching on Love, Marriage, Sex, and Parenting, if you would like a sneak peak of the Book, you can find the first chapter for free in her website www.drsarahbartel.com.
We finished our first part interview as Dr. Bartel was telling us all the helpful tips and guidance that may be found in her book. So, it is only natural that we start off by talking a bit more about the parts that pique our interest.
In your book, you talk about “timeless truths”, in this day and age where everything concerning ethics seems to be subject to revision and relativization, how can Catholics conserve and transmit to their children the timeless truths that the Catholic Church has taught for millennia?
St. John Paul II addressed this in a different context when he wrote in Familiaris consortio (On the Family) that in communist countries, where the social environment has been hostile to transmitting the faith publicly, it is in the domestic church that the faith was often passed down in secret through the generations. In our time, the mentality of consumerism, individualism, and relativism creates the hostile environment, but the call of the family to create a strong culture of faith within the home remains the answer. If parents want their children to grow up Catholic and stay Catholic as adults, they must be very intentional. Sending children to Catholic school is not enough. Sending children to parish religious education programs is not enough. The Church clearly states that the parents are the “primary educators” of their children, and the “first heralds of the Gospel” to them. They must be strong, loving, and consistent in creating a culture of family prayer at home. They must witness their own personal practice of the faith by speaking about it with their children. They must also educate themselves in the doctrines of the Catholic church so that they can speak more in-depth about what we believe. In school and in society, children will be exposed to a worldview of secular humanism, of skepticism. It will win them over in most cases, unless the parents and other witnesses can offer a compelling, attractive, and credible alternative. Parents can also point out that the way of relativism ends in nihilism—nothing means anything, ultimately, nothing has any value, and this results in emptiness, despair, and self-centered isolation.
Their parents must be prepared to equip them to see the beauty, logic, and intellectual depth of the Catholic worldview. They must witness to the joy of a life lived out as a gift of self, a life lived in Christ and in communion with others. This takes personal study, personal prayer, and personal growth, but the benefits are eternal!
In your own experience as a mother of five (four girls ages 15, 14, 8, and 6, and a little boy borned this July 25, on the anniversary of Humanae vitae) and wife, what is the main lesson you would like to transmit to Catholic families?
I would urge every Catholic family to commit to praying the Rosary together in some way on a regular basis. We do a lot in our family to create a culture of faith in our domestic church: we read stories of saints, we hold intellectual discussions about Catholic teachings and Catholic philosophy (my husband, Nathan, holds an MA in Philosophy from CUA), we read aloud the readings for Sunday’s Mass during breakfast before Mass and discuss it, and we observe liturgical seasons and saints days at home with little family traditions and celebrations. However, the ONE practice that has brought the most blessings to our family is the family rosary. I truly believe that Our Lady surrounds our home in her protective mantle by means of this prayer. We used to pray one decade a day together in the evening. Over time, over the course of many years, we built up to two, three, four, and now five decades every night. We have experienced a great increase in peace, in faith, and in joy through this prayer. Our children are very familiar with the main events in the life of Jesus and Mary because of their familiarity with the mysteries. The Rosary is like a little synthesis of the most important parts of the story of salvation, and it becomes our own story, bead by bead, day by day. The story of our own lives becomes intermingled with this story of salvation.
Perhaps a family can start by praying one decade a day together, as we did. Perhaps they can pray five decades together on a Saturday or a Sunday. When our children are grown and out of the house, I hope we can gather them up once a month for a Rosary and a meal together, along with any friends they wish to bring.
The second thing I would encourage families to do is to pray to St. Joseph. He is a husband and a father, as well as a provider. He can help find spouses for singles, and he is also patron of departing souls, so we can ask him to pray for us to have holy deaths in our families. Go to Joseph for all your family needs!
How do you manage your time to be efficient as a family member, parishioner, radio host, speaker, writer and teacher?
To be perfectly honest, I do not think I manage it especially well! I am not a time management expert by any means, but I strive to start with prayer, which is the best time management secret I’ve ever learned. If I can start my day with personal prayer and Mass, whatever else I can manage the rest of the day succeeds much better. I strive to put God first, then tend to personal care, then connection with my husband, then my children’s needs, then household needs. My professional projects and evangelization efforts fit into the spaces God provides after that. Since the types of projects I say yes to are occasional, or flexible, it works out. This is the benefit of working from my home. I love being able to be very hands-on with my family while also finding ways to reach others through speaking and media. I drive to the radio station to record several shows in a row about once a month, during a half-day session. I can write from home and speak and lead retreats occasionally. If I had a traditional full-time job, this would be much more difficult! My family is a huge help as well. My husband and teenaged daughters are a huge blessing in making this all possible.
Is there a special place in your house where you find the time and space to have a conversation with God? Like a “prayer corner” …. Can you describe that place for us?
We pray together in our family room, where we light a special candle. There is an icon of the Sacred Heart of Jesus there, and we also have images of saints there to aid our focus.
What comes next for Dr. Sarah Bartel?
My husband and I saw a need in the Church for supporting Catholic marriage and family life in a new way. Years ago, we were tired and uninspired in our marriage due to life stresses. We experienced a renewal of our marriage through attending a weekend retreat. Later, we trained to be retreat presenters, and we love helping couples renew the joy in their marriage. However, we know that not every couple can arrange to get away for a whole weekend to have this kind of experience, so we created Cana Feast. Cana Feast is online Catholic marriage enrichment membership community that supports couples in living their married vocation. Cana Feast inspires couples to live their sacrament with intention so they can enhance the faith, joy and love in their marriage and be the best example they can be to their kids and the world at large.
It works as a monthly subscription, providing members with monthly at-home video mini-retreats and access to a growing content library. In the self-paced videos, we combine solid theology and spirituality of marriage and family with the best research and teachings from the social sciences. Our purpose is to help couples make the beautiful teachings of the church come alive in practical ways in their everyday lives.
Each month focuses on a different theme in marriage and family life. In addition to the short monthly mini retreat videos, we provide a “behind the scenes” video each month that shows us living out that month’s theme. We give our couples an analysis and break-down of an outside resource that also supports that month’s theme, reviewing books, videos, and programs that they may want to check out, and we give our couples a Q & A time each month as well.
Cana Feast is also a supportive and loving community of like-minded, on-fire Catholic couples who are intentional about prioritizing their marriage and nurturing faith in their domestic churches. We build this community through video chats and in our members-only social forum.
We thank Dr. Bartel for her time and her devotion in spreading the gospel especially to married couples, we are sure this loving message will spread like fire and we at DCM wish nothing but blessings for her and her beautiful family. Be sure to check her Instagram at Cana Feast, you can also find A Catechism for Family Life: Insights from Catholic Teaching on Love, Marriage, Sex, and Parenting at Amazon. If you are interested in joining her online community be sure to go to https://www.canafeast.com/, and finally, if you wish to know more about this extraordinary woman check her web site at http://www.drsarahbartel.com/. The more you search for God, the clearer you will hear His voice, remember that Heaven is our Goal.