EWTN BOOKMARK – 2015-12-06


[♪] Doug: And welcome. We’re on location with “Bookmark,” a very special “Bookmark,” coming to you from the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. And I’m joined by an author, but also, the Secretary of the Pontifical Council for the Family who’s been heavily involved with the whole World Meeting of Families from the beginning; Bishop Jean Laffitte. And it’s great to have you with us. Bishop Laffitte: Thank you so much! Doug: Your Excellency. Bishop Laffitte: For this meeting. Doug: We had a chance to meet a couple of years ago at the Knights of Columbus. Bishop Laffitte: Second convention. Doug: Right. Convention. Bishop Laffitte: I think it was in San Antonio. Doug: Antonio. Right. Right. Exactly. Bishop Laffitte: I saw you. Yes. Doug: We got to talk a little bit about. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Exactly. Doug: Your work with the Pontifical Council for the Family. And also, the fact that you had a book, The Choice of the Family. That’s the title. A Call to Holiness, Abundant Life, and Enduring Happiness. Now, you’ve got some great forwards in there by Carl Anderson, Supreme Knight of the Knights of Columbus. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: And our wonderful local ordinary here. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia, of course, who’s been instrumental in hosting the event here as well. Now, you talk about “The Choice of the Family.” Why is family a choice in your mind? Bishop Laffitte: [laughs] It’s because the choice of the family, it was the way for me to express two different things. First, it’s the choice of God, you know, to propose you a family. Many people are called to build a family through human love, to have children, and so, it can be in the choice of God in a vocation, in a special vocation. Not for many people. And then, the choice that everybody can make to build a family. So, the Church of the family, you can refer either to God’s design of human love, marriage and family or to the personal desire of a man or a woman to build a family, you know. That’s why “The Choice of the Family” was a good title for this now because it was an opening and a wide. Doug: Now, the book itself is actually the fruit of what? Of series of interviews over about 4 days that you did with a particular interviewer, and then, this got turned into the book? Is that my understanding? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Yes. Doug: Okay. Now, first, in the Preface, as Archbishop Chaput talks about; as you were saying, It seems like, you know, a lot of times, people, when they hear “vocation,” they think a vocation to the priesthood. They don’t, and a religious life. They don’t really think of vocation to the married life or the married state. At the same time, it seems like we’ve suffered a vocation crisis on both sides of the equation. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Not only in the past with religious life and to the priesthood. But also, to the family life. Bishop Laffitte: To the family life, yes. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. I think we could understand this unity in God’s design, you know. When, in the council, Vatican II, you see that every man and woman is called to holiness, universal call to be holy, to sanctification. Then, you understand that you may have this way, you know, in whatever state of life, in a married life, conjugal life, or in a consecrate life with celibacy, consecrated to the Kingdom. So, I think that; Doug: What’s also interesting here is the fact that he talks about “Preordained by God.” So, do you believe that each one of us are called to a particular vocation in life and it’s a question of us discovering what that is? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. But we should express like that in a small, little bit different way. It means when God’s design, when he speaks of God’s design on a particular life we should always remember that any person is free. Doug: Free will. Right. Yeah. Bishop Laffitte: It’s free. It’s, again, an invitation. God helps to meet the right person or to keep you and to animate in you the desire to consecrate in the celibacy, if that’s the case, and it means that it’s a call and a design which is not a plan, no, of one minister of plan or should decide you are called to a marriage life and to you, instead of that, to the priesthood. Of course, there is a discernment. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: In life and that’s true. Doug: And one could decide not to follow that path, right. And that’s why prayer is so important, right? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. It’s exactly the young man, the rich young man with Jesus. Jesus loved him. He was practicing everything, all the Commandments of God. He was friends with God. There was nothing to be reproached to him. And Jesus said to him, “Okay, if you want to be perfect, it means if you want to be more than perfect, then, “Come, come, come with Me. Follow Me. And give everything you have and come with Me.” Doug: Right. He was too attached to what he had. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. He was too attached. But it was not condemnation, you know. The man was not separated from God. But he was not able to choose what was still better in his life, you know, that the good he had. Doug: Now, Archbishop Chaput also says here in the preface, Now, you were stationed in Rome for over 20 years. You’re from a diocese near the Pyrenees in France. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Not far from Lourdes, about 30 miles or so. I remember us talking about that. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Exactly. Doug: The last time as well. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: We have the Holy Father coming here to the United States, all talking about “Family and the importance of.” Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: “Of family.” Do you see a difference in the way family is thought of in, let’s say, the European mindset, the American mindset, and maybe the African or Asian mindset? Bishop Laffitte: Oh yes. It happens, I have traveled a lot for my personal service in the Church, my ministry, and we can observe many differences. Some difficulties you have in Europe or in the states don’t exist yet in Africa. If you go to Africa, you would never talk about people divorce and try not to get married and wanting to have access to the Eucharist Communion. You won’t have that. Instead of that, you will have to talk about unity of marriage, polygamy, to understand what, and so, other different topics now. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: And so, in Europe and in America, I should say that, within 20 years, there’s a huge difference in the way that people have lost from sight the fact that marriage and the family is not only a personal choice and desire. But, it’s also an institution, an objectively important and a central institution in society. Doug: It’s really the cell of society. It’s the building block, right? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. So, we have to take and to keep the two aspects, the two elements complimentary together to understand that when we decide to get married, it ceases to be a private thing. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Because if I get married, then, you will know me as Mr. Married and lady who is married with me, having the same name or. No. Doug: And then, bringing children forth into life and. Bishop Laffitte: And children, and also, we would; married people accomplished tasks, no, and responsibilities that society is profiting from, you know. For instance, to welcome small children, to educate them, to bring them up until the age where they are… where they can integrate society in a responsible way. That’s; of course, today people think of marriage as a, oh, as a limit to their own freedom. That’s the problem with individualists most. Doug: Okay. I see. Right. Bishop Laffitte: Or something that, it’s my private life. Doug: Right. It doesn’t have an impact on society, which it does. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Archbishop Chaput also says; And that’s one thing I would say that you see here. You see here at the World Meeting of Families is the smiles, the hope. Bishop Laffitte: Oh yes. Doug: And the love and all of that coming together, and like you said, we were interviewing some sisters who work with college students, and they said, “With college students, there’s something called “FOMO–Fear of Missing Out.” Bishop Laffitte: Yes. [laughs] Doug: And to some degree it’s the same thing. People are afraid, if I make a commitment here. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Then, maybe I’ll be missing out on something over there. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: And that’s really misguided. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Exactly. Yes. Doug: Right. Now you also have Carl Anderson, who did the Forward here and he had said; Because we really do see; you know, in the old days, we kind of thought in a nuclear family. That was the traditional way we see. But as we see that kind of fall apart in many ways, we see that ripple effect through society, right? Bishop Laffitte: Oh yes. Yes. I think a man and a woman, obviously, in a perspective of faith, of Christian faith, are linked to the, to God’s design as a Creator, you know. And so, God knows and knew what was good for man, you know. And there’s something extraordinary that John Paul, the Saint John Paul II said. He was talking about the image and resemblance of God, you know. Man was created. And he said, Who has created the world and so. But, as man and woman having a Communion is as united in deep Communion that man and woman have the more similar resemblance with God, that image of God. Because they are the image of the — unity of the Divine Person in the Holy Trinity. Doug: We have the Trinity. Exactly; the image of the Trinity, that’s familiar relationship. Right. Bishop Laffitte: It’s isonomy. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: The man and woman are like united and are fruitful or at least available to be fruitful. They are like the Communion in God, which is fruitful, you know. There is a gift of life given to, from God, you know, to everything in the Trinity and so. Doug: Well, I’ve always thought, you know, a husband and wife coming together and they have a child. It’s the most divine-like act. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: That a human being can participate in, which is to participate in the creation of another human, distinct human being. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. It’s extraordinary. I say sometimes to my own students, you know, would you make please the effort? We stop everything during one minute, and to think of this fact, that, in nature there is no other possibility for a human being to come to the existence without being the fruit of the deep union of a man and a woman. And normally this deep union of man and woman comes because they love each other. So, it’s extraordinary. And people don’t think that. They think that life can come because, “Oh, I would like to have a child.” Now, or like some. Doug: Right. And many times you find, too, because I know one of the things with that kind of lack of commitment, you see a lot of people today where they delay having children. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: And we end up in a situation where you have a woman who suddenly realizes that ‘I can feel this drive. I want to have a child.’ And it’s a lot more difficult to have a child than they thought it was. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Like you said, in a sense, it’s not like, ‘Okay, I’m ready. Let me press a button.’ It doesn’t work that way. Right? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Exactly. I had many times the opportunity to meet groups of parents, or not of parents. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Of couples, who cannot be parents, have no children, without even, even though they would like to have. And all of them ask themselves, ‘How is it possible? Marriage is; no, the procreation that giving life, and we cannot, we’re like, “How is it possible?” And the only; I could see that. The only thing that could give some consolation to them is the fact that when they discover that they are a sign of the gratitude of the gift of life. It means, if some couples, even if they desire that, cannot have a child, it means that all the children that exist are always a gift of God and God is free to make His gifs in the way He wants. We don’t understand that of course. But. Doug: It’s always clear at that time. Right. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. In the faith. And I’m talking in the perspective of faith, obviously. Doug: Right. Sure. Bishop: Not in sociological politically correct way. But in the faith, it is, no? They are a sign that when they discover that they see that their union is useful for everybody and they’re open to have other kind of fruitfulness in social society. Doug: Now, when you get elsewhere into the book, we get into your interview that starts off with your particular journey and you kind of came from a rather large family, right? Bishop Laffitte: 12 children. Right. Doug: 12 children. Okay. Bishop Laffitte: 12 children; 6 boys and 6 girls. Doug: Right. Now, one of the questions asked in the book was, “What qualities of your mother’s stand out the most to you?” Bishop Laffitte: What? Doug: “What qualities of your mother’s stand out the most to you?” What was it about her that imbued you with your spirit of loving the family in a lot of ways? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. I think she was a woman, she was an extraordinary busy with 12 children. Of course, when you are a child or an adolescent, you don’t think that because it seems to you normal that you get to eat, you get your [laughs] everything cleaned and washed, and so. But she was extraordinary given to the family. The other thing that she has a relationship single and it’s an original one, unique relationship to every child. Doug: Each child. Right. Bishop Laffitte: And she was extraordinarily respectful for the entire life of the, of everybody now. I mean, of course, we went to Mass on Sunday. They were very faithful to these appointments with the Lord in the Miracle Eucharist, my parents, and they went to Mass sometimes in the week and in the morning. But, she was full of respect. She didn’t, she was not intrusive. And, of course, we could, all of us, we could see that we are teaching, they were experiencing in their own life. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: So, of course, even if sometimes when you are young, you can disassociate yourself with the family norms and truths. Doug: Kind of a normal progression. Right. Bishop Laffitte: And so, it is normal. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Maturity. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Then, when you’re an adult, you understand that they have incarnated and experienced what they have taught. And that’s why you try to consider your own life and to want to do the same. Doug: And so much in the teaching that young people get is by the example of how their parents act, how their parents live out, not always what they say. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: But what they do and, you know, sometimes we think the children, even today, are distracted and not paying attention. They’re paying attention. And they see what you say, and it seems today, in society, the whole idea of authenticity, that what young people today are looking for is someone who is being authentic, who’s not saying one thing and living a different way. Because to some degree, that’s what they’re told is, ‘Oh, these people act this way. But they’re not really that way.’ Bishop Laffitte: Yes, exactly. And that’s also the drama of dear religion, you know, and Christian faith that you see that huge proportion of people being baptized, and in the Catholic Church also. Don’t judge opportune to render a cult to the Lord on the day consecrated to Him, meaning to go to Mass on Sunday. So, if parents don’t go to Mass on Sunday, what kind of stimulation can they put on children, young children, and also for the future? They will always remember that sometimes the priority was to go. Doug: Watch the soccer match or. Bishop Laffitte: Journey. Doug: Whatever. Bishop Laffitte: Or to go to the sports, and to the match. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: To do whatever thing. So. Doug: Right. What’s your priority? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: You say this, but, I don’t see you live up to that. Bishop Laffitte: But when the Eucharist is the center of the family life, Eucharist becomes the common treasure. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Of the family. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: And that’s wonderful. Because everybody gathers. Then, afterwards, there is, can be the lunch, and the people, the brother and sister, the parents. It can last half a day or one day, the Sunday. But, it’s totally different. Doug: And that’s why when Sunday was, in many ways, more unique where stores weren’t open, things, there weren’t as many things to do. It was the idea that one could sense that the other six days of the week could be very similar. But Sunday was substantially different and gave you a chance of a day of rest actually and to spend time with your family. Now, one of the questions you were asked; now, you have to do with the John Paul II Institute, right? Bishop Laffitte: Yes, I have; I am a student there. I made my doctorate under the guidance of Professor Gregal, close friend of Karol Wojtyla, Professor Karol Wojtyla, the Pope, and also with Cardinal Caprara and so. And afterwards, Professor Gregal called me to Rome or the Vatican to teach at the John Paul Institute. So, now I am here for 21 years, and I’m going to start with. Doug: So, would you consider; one of the questions they ask you, were you among the first generation formed at the John Paul Institute? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: And why was John Paul important personally to you? And why do you think St. John Paul is so important to the Church today and maybe our understanding of the family? Bishop Laffitte: Oh, because for many reasons. I think John Paul II has a kind to relate to the family on a very personal, existential, and concrete way. When he was teaching the family as a professor in Krakow, you know, in Poland, you know, sometimes it was with his students and at the end of the lesson, it was so interesting that the students wanted to continue that, and they went away to the forest, to the boat, something to eat, and all there was conversation and so. It was so inspiring that thousands and thousands of people afterward have been illuminated by this teaching. John Paul II was always talking about the personal aspiration in the heart of man and woman, you know, among them to have an answer on the death, ‘How will I be useful in society?’ And it was stressing the fact that the most profound design in the heart of man and woman is a desire to love and to be loved. Doug: To be loved. Right. Bishop Laffitte: To be loved, and, of course, what he made afterwards these catechesis are a huge and monumental corpus, doctrine of corpus five years, no, 134 catechesis and talking about “Marriage,” but, from different point of view and very pro-disciplinary way, you know, Biblical, philosophical, sacramental, moral and ethical, juridical. It’s an extraordinary contribution. It’s the first contribution. It’s a big contribution in the history of the Church. Doug: In Chapter 4 of your book, you talk about “Free love and free love in God,” and then, you talk about “Fidelity and Freedom.” I thought that was interesting because a lot of people would not see those things going together. How does fidelity and freedom work together, especially in relation to marriage or the family? Bishop Laffitte: It comes from a strange and wrong idea for freedom, you know. Freedom for people, now it’s the freedom to decide what I want in this moment, and I don’t care tomorrow. Tomorrow I may have other desires. And so, the freedom is to be also current with a decision one has made before, you know, and fidelity is the discordance, the expression of these freedom, which is respected, kept, and also, cared for and that can be in the best condition to grow. Doug: So, how many languages is this book out in now? Bishop Laffitte: This is eighth language in two years. I think it’s certainly; I try not to criticize the other publishing companies. But I must say, this is the most beautiful book. Doug: Right. You’re happy cause it’s. Bishop Laffitte: As I say, Image from Random House. Doug: Random House. Right. Bishop Laffitte: But, I’m happy because it’s also the publishing company who published Pope Benedict XVI. Doug: Right. Right. So. Bishop Laffitte: So, I will. Doug: You’re in good company right? Bishop Laffitte: Yes. And I will offer the book to. Doug: To him as well. Bishop Laffitte: To him as well. Yes, of course. Doug: Let me ask you, as far as the sales, are you finding in any particular language or country or continent that the sales are larger than in some other locale so far? Bishop Laffitte: Of course, in France, because, it was the first. And afterward, it was translated into Italian, into Polish, in German, but also, in Portuguese. But the funny thing is that people from Brazil wanted to have their edition, not a Portuguese one, but a Portuguese from Brazil. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: So I have two. Doug: Right. Oh, okay, I see. Bishop Laffitte: Two Portuguese. Doug: Yes. Bishop Laffitte: Edition. Doug: People separated by a common language apparently. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Right. Bishop Laffitte: Exactly. Doug: You ended with that sometimes. Exactly. Bishop Laffitte: But I think this, of course, something very special, because, the book is richer with the extraordinary texts of Archbishop Chaput, Tentacoli, and Anderson. Doug: And Carl Anderson. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Right. Doug: Thank you so much for stopping by. Bishop Laffitte: Thank you so much. Doug: Bishop Jean Laffitte, Secretary of the Pontifical Council to the Family. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: Thank you so much for all the hard work you’ve given. Bishop Laffitte: Oh, thank you so much. It was a pleasure. Doug: And supported our. Bishop Laffitte: As always, because, now it’s a habit. Yes. Doug: A great friend of ours, Archbishop Chaput. Bishop Laffitte: Yes. Doug: You’ve been so helpful. And this is a wonderful book, The Choice of the Family: A Call to Holiness: Abundant Life and Enduring Happiness, published by “Image,” available through the “EWTN Religious Catalogue.” Check it out. Check us out next time. Thank you for joining us for this very special on location for the “World Meeting of Families Bookmark.” [♪]

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