House of Gold and Pope Francis

I could not help but smile when I read this paragraph in Pope Francis’ Amoris Laetitia:

As the word of God tells us, “a man leaves his father and his mother” (Gen 2:24). This does not always happen, and a marriage is hampered by the failure to make this necessary sacrifice and surrender. Parents must not be abandoned or ignored, but marriage itself demands that they be “left”, so that the new home will be a true hearth, a place of security, hope and future plans, and the couple can truly become “one flesh”. In some marriages, one spouse keeps secrets from the other, confiding them instead to his or her parents. As a result, the opinions of their parents become more important than the feelings and opinions of their spouse. This situation cannot go on for long, and even if it takes time, both spouses need to make the effort to grow in trust and communication. Marriage challenges husbands and wives to find new ways of being sons and daughters.

I smiled because it touches on what I have found to be one of the most challenging parts of getting married and having a family: negotiating your relationships with families-of-origin. I know this is a universal challenge, as I have spent uncountable hours speaking with other married men and women about their own struggles with how to interrelate their own marriage and family with their parents and extended family members. By coincidence, just after I read this portion of Amoris Laetitia I went to see the movie, My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which is all about that struggle. Not as funny as the first one, in my opinion.

Years ago, I knew a man who had a very controlling mother. When he was dating a young lady and got engaged, she was clearly jealous of the relationship and made the man feel caught between her and his fiancée. It was very painful to watch. His fiancée finally said to him, “It’s either her or me.” He was tortured by this ultimatum. But one day something absolutely remarkable happened. He and his fiancée were in a public parking lot and a man came up to them demanding money while threatening them at gunpoint. He said it was in that moment, when he realized he would take a bullet for her, that he knew his choice. He called his mother up that night and told her that if she was going to force him to choose, he was going to choose his wife-to-be.

My wife and I often say to each other that we want our children to fly, to discover their own life callings, grow and flourish, and that our greatest hope is that they always find in our home, and our love for them, an anchor, a refuge, a safe place where they can be themselves, know they are loved and supported; where they can share any struggle or any joy. It’s hard! My two sons will be in college this Fall. It’s hard! My daughters are flying through high school. It’s hard! I want them to stay, I want them to go. I want to hold on, I want to let go. I want them to want to stay, I want them to want to go. The words of that Sting song come to mind here: “If you love somebody set them free.”

Okay, so I know you will be very surprised but there’s yet another Twenty One Pilots song that now comes to mind as I am writing this post — House of Gold. My 89 year old mom loves this song. lol. It’s all about the tensions between a mother and a son. The mother wants her son to stay near home and promise to take care of her when she is old and her husband dies, while the son is anxious to set out into life to discover his unique calling. The son clearly loves his mother dearly and wants to promise her everything, but feels torn (literally!) as he also wants to go out and begin a music career (“be a bum so I just might become someone”). The music video is both comedic and macabre, and admits of no resolve in the end.

So with no other better idea as to how to end this reflection today, I will share the wild music video. Enjoy:

6 comments on “House of Gold and Pope Francis

  1. Joanna Brady says:

    Dear Dr Tom ,Thankyou for this post,it’s so true ,it is hard !
    perhaps what is asked of us all,is just to be aware of the struggle and be willing to wrestle with it ourselves,so that eventually we may become unpossessive lovers….
    .our children in their forward ,beyond us march into life teach us far more about love than we ever teach them……our oldest two sons met beautiful girls and married within 10 months of each of other, a roller coaster of an emotional journey,that was hard but also joyful for me……this week our first grandchild was born ……the joy ,gratitude ,love and sense of new beginning is impossible to put into words ..God is good !

    • Thank you for your wise and honest comments, Joanna. CONGRATS on the grandchild! What a blessing! Health and all good. “willing to wrestle” is really so accurate. Godspeed, sister in the Lord. DrTom

  2. Judy Svendsen says:

    Tom, I have struggled with the I want them to stay, I want them to go too. It’s been very hard! Our oldest graduated with her BSN last May. She is an RN at Mercy downtown. Her wedding is in July. September of 2015 she moved out of our house. We told her to stay and save for her wedding, but she chose not to. She has truly spread her wings and flown. We barely see her, but when we do I value the time. She likes to borrow my vehicle a lot. It sits a lot of people. They will leave, they will soar high, but they will always know where they can land. Your children have grown up since I last saw them. I know what they were like when younger, I know you and Patti, they will soar like our oldest! Setting them free is the hardest!

  3. nos says:

    They ain’t leaving ,no way no how I’ve clipped their wings I can’t count how many times… the prison cells are filled with all the amenities they could ask for … I have told them from their earliest days ,,, just ask dad he’ll get it for you… st a y here don’t listen to Thomas,,, daddy will get it for you … we’ll of the six four have spread those beautiful long feathered multi faceted wings and flown the coup… to return frequently return for our many family traditions centered around our glorious Catholic faith…ahhh Micheal +++ Nicholas aka ( the pope) always be ready to defend your faith in a kind , compassionate ,loving way but allow no argument that will usurp the Gospel… Maria and Catherine stop growing up your disappointing Peter Pan… Thomas,Patti what a wonderful example you’ve set despite all the warts — on Thomas that is St Patti you’re almost flawless …P.B.W.Y.A.A.

    • St. Patti indeed!! Your kids — what a dad they got!! Salt of the earth, Boston frankness (Fenway, too). I can somehow see your mustache when I read your words — you are the man, nos. God bless ya, tjmfjn

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