Brandon's Notepad

February 13, 2018

Agile: Online Resources


This is a list of interesting articles and videos concerning Agile Software Development. I have read, watched, or listened to each one. They have been added here because I found the content useful, either in my current situation or for future discussions. Expect the list to grow.


The articles and ‘blog posts listed below are grouped by topic, but the topics are in no particular order. I tried to find the originating article for a topic (if possible) and then list below it (indented) other articles that respond to or built upon it.


At the moment, the list of videos is less-stringently organized than the articles in the previous section. The reason is that there are far fewer videos worth watching than there are articles to read, and I tend to favor long videos, which shortens the list even further.



January 30, 2018

Agile: A Conversion Story


This is the story of how I became an Agile convert. After sixteen years of denial, I finally opened my eyes to the benefits of this wonderful framework. Writing this post was a very humbling experience. I was seriously tempted to blatantly rip off Kubrick and title this post How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Scrum.

My first exposure to Agile was sometime in 2001 in the form of XP (Extreme Programming). I was active on several developer discussion forums at the time and XP started coming up as a topic more and more frequently. One of my favorite discussion points was the need for proper traceability from concise, structured requirements to design elements and ultimately to code. XP, with its paper-based story cards strewn about on tables or cork boards and then entombed in boxes or banded stacks when the project was over, seemed to mock the sheer beauty and efficiency of a well-maintained requirements database that could be easily searched and reported upon. And paired programming? What a waste of developer hours! Why dedicate two people to a single programming task? What kind of coder needs someone constantly looking over his shoulder and critiquing every little typo anyway? I conceded that such foolishness may be tolerable for small applications or short-term engagements, but it would never work for real applications, the stuff of corporate I.T. projects that took many months or even years to deliver.

I happily ignored Agile for many years after that. Doing so was easy, as none of my clients or employers used any of the Agile frameworks, that is, until about four years ago when the new CIO at my company started talking about it…a lot…and not as a joke. No one in the department seemed to be taking him seriously, so I dismissed the notion that it would actually take hold, but I also knew that I could no longer flat out ignore Agile. If the CIO was talking about it, then I had to make sure he (and everyone else) knew that adopting it would be a mistake. I didn’t want to look like I wasn’t willing to be a team player, but I also didn’t want to throw away all of the hard work we had invested in creating a very stable and controlled development environment. That CIO left the company within a year. An interim CIO seemed to like the Agile concept, but admitted openly that he had no plans to change the strategic direction of I.T., preferring to “keep the lights on” and let the permanent replacement call the shots. Whew! We were safe. So I thought. The new permanent CIO, though not heavy in development experience, arrived already convinced of the efficacy of Agile.

Any attempt to derail Agile at this point would have been what we call a serious CLM (career-limiting move). It was time to adapt. But how? Our development, test, and release policies and procedures were hardly what you might call Agile-friendly. Frankly, our Project Management policy read like an excerpt from the PMBOK. I had no idea what this was going to look like or where to even start, When one consultant started managing his development team using Scrum, I asked to shadow him so that I could learn more about how Agile was supposed to work. I admit, I would not have been disappointed had I found evidence confirming my previous notions about Agile, but I attended the team’s events with an open mind and tried to leave my skepticism at the door. By the time he left for his next assignment, I still wasn’t convinced that Agile was going to be the right fit for our department, but I had learned enough to understand how it might work if everyone got used to it and agreed to play the game.

My biggest takeaway from this exercise was that, in terms of software development, Agile wasn’t significantly different from traditional development (i.e. the waterfall methodology), in that requirements still had to be gathered, software designed, code written, the product tested, and user documentation produced. What was radically different was that it severely limited the scope of these activities for a specified, short-term period of time; thus, it allowed for course correction at any point should (read: when) requirements change.  I learned that requirements needn’t be quite so formal or design so rigid, and that documentation can be limited to a sane amount that might actually be read again later. I still felt like a lot of useful information — mostly artifacts from the development process useful internally in many ways — was going to be lost in the process.

A few months passed and I continued to monitor the growing use of Agile within the development teams. By this time, most of them had latched onto Scrum terminology in particular. Overall, things didn’t seem to be going well. The teams were struggling with many different things, and it was becoming obvious that most of them were not truly adopting the Agile mindset. Then a golden opportunity arose! I managed to volunteer to be the Scrum Master on one of the teams. “As long as it doesn’t interfere with your regular duties,” my boss said as he gave me permission to fill the role temporarily. The project was failing and the team disjoint, so I figured it was going to be a serious opportunity to experiment and see what Agile could do to improve the situation.

The first sprint was rocky and I spent half of my time figuring out how to produce a proper burndown chart in the task management system we had selected. With the second sprint I began every daily scrum with the burndown chart on the large screen in the conference room. The (positive) impact this made on the team was shocking. Tired of watching me update tasks with hours spent and hours remaining, the team started keeping their own metrics up-to-date sometime in the third sprint. By the fourth sprint, we were “flying by instrument” as I like to put it. It was beautiful! The sprint backlog (in hours) was at about 85% of capacity, leaving a little wiggle-room for error, and we trended downward more-or-less as one might expect. I’d love to report that the project had made a sweeping turn just in time and became a stunning success, but sadly, it did not. Despite the great strides the team had made, it was not happening fast enough, and management pulled the plug on our experiment. The software was eventually released for production use, late, using conventional project management, but I walked away with a completely new perspective. I finally understood why and how Agile worked! I was no longer a critic, but an advocate.

Within two months, half of the department (including myself) had been formally trained and I jumped fast at the chance to be on the Agile transformation team that would be responsible for the formal adoption of Scrum. Half a year later, I earned my certification. Looking back, it amazes me how quickly my view of Agile changed so completely. I have since learnt a great deal beyond what was covered in training, but I will have to write about such things another day.


January 19, 2018

Agile: My Journey


About a year before I wrote this post, I set out on a journey that I was not expecting to take. I became seriously involved in Agile software development, the Scrum framework to be more specific. Prior to that time, I was not only completely uninvolved, I was an outward opponent of Agile as a result of my initial exposure to Extreme Programming (XP). What changed? Where am I headed now? That’s all part of my story.

This is a work in progress. If you find what I have posted so far to be interesting, please feel free to follow me on Twitter and/or

My Journey

In the spirit of Agile, I’ve decided to document my journey in the form of stories, the sum of which constitute an epic. Cute, eh? No, I didn’t plan for it to happen this way. The stories have just emerged. This is the landing page. As I publish the parts of my story, I will link the posts to the list items below. This will take time. I am still on the journey.

  • My conversion story
  • Why Agile Works
  • I think I’m missing something here…
  • A (Hard) Lesson in Writing Stories
  • Let Them Eat Cupcakes
  • more to come…
  • The Agile Blogger

I also plan to post an Agile reference page, which I will probably link in this space.

My Goal

As with all of the content on this site, my primary goal is to record my personal notes on this topic for later use. A secondary goal is to make this information available to anyone who may find it useful. Another huge personal benefit is that the preparation required to write on this topic almost ensures that I will ingest the material

Why Now?

So, why am I writing about Agile in 2018? It’s been seventeen years since the Agile Manifesto was penned, and even then, some of the Agile variants had already been in use for ten years or more. Agile isn’t new anymore, it’s not the next big thing. In the grand scheme of things, I arrived on the Agile scene quite late and I am far from being an expert (yet). The answer is that this post (and its related content) is as much about me and my experiences as it is about Agile itself. I’d like to think that this makes the material unique, but I know that I am following where many other developers have already trod. Nonetheless, I hope that writing my thoughts will provide value.


January 12, 2018

January 12, 2018: Music & Math, Life with Cats, Vending Machines

Filed under: My Stack — Brandon @ 3:06 pm


I’ve been doing some research on various topics lately and sometimes a good fifteen-minute YouTube video is more valuable than eight hours of reading. The risk is getting sidetracked and watching suggested or related videos. It only takes one to rob you of precious productivity. In this post, I want to share a few that caught my attention.

Creepy Vending Machines
This morning I stumbled across a video titled I Found the Creepiest Vending Machine in Japan. It was posted by a Canadian girl living in Japan named Sharla (handle: Sharmander). In a nutshell, Sharla and her friend Norm go shopping for a new camera and find some vending machines containing these mysterious packages wrapped in white paper and tape, each with a story (written in Japanese of course) on the side facing the potential buyer. I won’t give away the rest of the story, but I must say that I love the idea of the mystery box and can’t help but wonder if this would have any chance of success in the United States. Sharla made a follow-up video wherein she and Norm go back to the vending machines to buy ten more boxes and then unwrap them on-camera.

An Artist’s Life
Another one that I thought was well-done is a video titled Artist Illustrates Everyday Life With Her Boyfriend And Cat. It’s basically a frame-by-frame video of a comic by Mikiko Ponczeck. This gal’s really got talent! The cats are adorable and the facial expressions priceless.

Math & Music
Why not admit there is a problem with math and music? Dan Formosa (Drexel University) briefly explores how music notation came about, why it doesn’t make sense, and what might be a useful alternative. I rank this as the best video I’ve ever seen featuring a slide rule.

December 29, 2017

Ignatius’ Epistle To Polycarp

Filed under: Christianity — Brandon @ 5:19 pm
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Home > My Research > Christianity > Early Church Fathers > Ignatius’ Epistle To Polycarp


Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr of the early Church, wrote to Polycarp, the Bishop of Smyrna, wherein he imparts wisdom regarding behavior proper for a bishop, married Christian couples, and Christian communities in general.


Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, while imprisoned and in transport to Rome in about the year A.D. 108, wrote letters to several of the ancient Churches. He also wrote a personal letter to his friend and fellow bishop, Polycarp of Smyrna. Full authenticity of the contents of these letters is not generally accepted; however, the most egregious embellishments can be identified and removed using copies of the letters from different ages and sources. The original letters and contemporary copies have been lost to antiquity.


Two copies of this letter were used to produce the summary below. The English version provided the bulk of the material, and the Greek was used to gain clarity on specific points.

English: New Advent
Greek: TextExcavation

Also, the language search tools found at the Perseus Digital Library (Tufts University) came in quite handy for understanding the Greek.


The format of this letter is commensurate with Ignatius’ other epistles, though not identical. After the salutation and customary self-humiliation and praise of the recipient, The main topics of discourse are presented, of which this letter contains three. The first is a series of exhortations made to Polycarp, providing advice, counsel, and encouragement; this occupies the space of three-and-a-half chapters. After that, one chapter is dedicated to married couples within the Christian community and another to the duties of Christians in general. Finally, some specific instructions are given for Polycarp to carry out.

  • Salutation
  • Commendation
  • Exhortations
    • Keep a steady course
    • Maintain position in both flesh and spirit
    • Preserve unity
    • Model Godly forbearance
    • Lovingly support the faithful
    • Pray without ceasing (1 Thess 5:17)
    • Always seek understanding (continuous learning?)
    • Be watchful
    • Communicate
    • Bear the infirmities of all
    • Don’t just love good disciples, but humbly subdue the troublesome
    • There is no one solution to all problems
    • Big problems can be mitigated with consistent care
    • Always be “wise as a serpent, and harmless as a dove.” (Matt 10:16)
    • As flesh and spirit, you can deal with all evil: that is plainly visible and that which can only be revealed by God
    • Navigate well, that you and yours may reach God
    • Be sober, for eternal life is at stake
    • In all things may my soul be for yours, and my bonds also, which you have loved.
    • Don’t fear teachers of false doctrine (1 Tim 1:3, 1 Tim 6:3)
    • Stand firm despite relentless opposition
    • Bear all things…as you want God to bear with you
    • Grow in zeal
    • Weigh carefully the times
    • Look for Him who became like us and suffered for our sake
    • Protect widows from neglect
    • Permit nothing to be done without your consent just as you seek the approval of God in all you do
    • Assemble frequently (Mass?)
    • It is better that slaves submit out of glory of God than to be freed and become slaves to their own desires (c.f. 1 Tim 6:1-2)
  • Duties of Husbands and Wives
    • Flee from abuse and don’t remain silent about it
    • Women should be satisfied with their husbands out of love of the Lord (Eph 5:22)
    • Men should love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Eph 5:25)
    • If one can remain unmarried and pure without boasting or conceit, let him do so to the honor of God
    • Those who do marry should do so with the approval of the bishop, and thus according to God’s will, not for lust
  • Duties of the Christian Flock
    • Remain submissive to the bishop, presbyters, and deacons
    • Work together as servants of God
    • Please God, your general and employer, and do not desert him
    • Let your baptism, faith, love, and patience endure and protect you
    • Work, that you may be rewarded according to the value of your deeds
    • Be patient with one another as God is with you (Matt 6:19-21)
  • Instructions
    • Elect by solumn council a new bishop for Antioch
    • Correspond with adjacent Churches on my behalf
  • Commendations of Others
  • Farewell


Papal Primacy. In his salutatory remarks, Ignatius addresses Polycarp as one “who has, as his own bishop, God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ”. Historically, there has been much debate about Ignatius’ understanding of the Church in terms of structure, his vision of the local bishop as the spiritual leader over presbyters (as opposed to a Congregationalist view), and whether or not he recognized (even the notion of) the primacy of the Bishop of Rome. One might interpret this phrase to mean that he did not, in fact, recognize the Roman Bishop as anything but perhaps a distant peer, and that a bishop must give an account to no man but answer only to God himself. In my assessment, this conclusion is both over-reaching and anachronistic. The primacy of the Pope is not an issue being addressed in the letter at all, and Ignatius’ statement should not be taken as a testamony as such. This debate belongs to a different era (beit AD 381, 484, 654, 736, 867, 1054, 1281, 1472, or 1517).

Upon This Rock. At the beginning of Chapter 1, Ignatius claims to have “obtained good proof that [Polycarp’s] mind is fixed in God as upon an immoveable rock (πετραν)”. This phrase calls to mind the words of Jesus in Matthew 16:18, I tell you that you are Peter (Πέτρος) and upon this rock (πέτρα) I will build my Church.. No, Ignatius is (most likely) not alluding to Peter or the Papacy, but it is interesting that he describes Polycarp’s understanding of the faith in the same manner.

Subjunctive Mood. In the line from Chapter 1, “I entreat you…exhort all that they may be saved”, the verb for “saved” (σωζωνται) is in the subjunctive mood.

Sports Medicine. Like Paul, Ignatius likens the Christians to athletes (thrice in this letter alone) and to life as a race to be run with eternal salvation as the prize. He also notes that athletes are often injured, yet they still strive to win, that there is no one cure for all types of wounds, and that as athletes we must remain sober and ready.

Holy Battle Gear. Also like Paul (Eph 6:10-18), Ignatius speaks of putting on the armor of God (Chapter 6), complete with helmet (faith) and spear (love).

Good Works. Chapter 6 includes a line that states, “Let your works be the charge assigned to you, that you may receive a worthy recompense.” I found the Greek (τα δεποσιτα υμων τα εργα υμων, ινα τα ακκεπτα υμων αξια κομισησθε) and looked up each word, eventually coming up with “Where your work is stored, there your unbounded worth will be taken care of.” This sounded too similar to Matthew 6:19-21 to dismiss (to paraphrase: don’t store treasure on earth where it can perish, but in Heaven where it cannot be destroyed, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also). I settled on the amalgamation of “Work, that you may be rewarded according to the value of your deeds” for the summary above and added the reference to Matthew.

December 28, 2017

Ignatius’ Roman Epistle

Home > My Research > Christianity > Early Church Fathers > Ignatius’ Roman Epistle


Ignatius of Antioch, bishop and martyr of the early Church, wrote to the Church in Rome, imploring that the faithful there not prevent his martyrdom.


Ignatius, Bishop of Antioch, while imprisoned and in transport to Rome in about the year A.D. 108, wrote letters to several of the ancient Churches including the Christians in Rome. Full authenticity of the contents of these letters is not generally accepted; however, the most egregious embellishments can be identified and removed using copies of the letters from different ages and sources. The original letters and contemporary copies have been lost to antiquity.


Unlike his letters to the Churches in Asia, this letter is short and bears a simple message: don’t stop the Romans from killing me. It is clear from his salutatory introduction that he holds the Roman Christians in high esteem. He also suspects that they, out of brotherly love, will do anything they can to prevent his execution. Ignatius wishes to see the Lord and sees martyrdom as a direct path to this end.

Frankly, I find it difficult to glean much from this letter that could not be understood from reading the text itself. There is no hint of dogmatic beginnings or compelling exegesis to perform. Again the message is simple. The language, however, suffers from the disease of elegance, meaning that we modern readers have little patience for the flowery language employed, no matter how close to the original Greek the translator was able to render the English.

So, I feel that the best service I can provide at the moment is to do as I have done with other such writings and provide a more succinct rendition that may appeal to the current generation:

To the wonderful Christians in Rome,

[1]My prayers have been answered! I’m coming to see you as a prisoner and, God willing, to be executed in Rome. You who live there have ample opportunity to be martyred, but I had to go out of my way to make this happen. I’m just afraid that you, out of love, will prevent this from happening. [2]I may never have this opportunity again, so please, the best thing you could do for me is to just not say anything to anyone and let it happen. [3]Please do pray for an increase in my strength and resolve though. I would much rather be considered a true Christian after my death than to claim to be one and fall short. [4]Allow me to be eaten by the beasts, that my body be completely devoured so that no one must worry with my remains. [5]I hope the beasts attack quickly, and if they don’t attack me at all, I will provoke them! Bring it on! [6]Nothing in the world can profit me, for the world is death and Jesus is Life, and [7]I do not desire worldly food, but only the bread and drink of God, which is the flesh and blood of Christ. [8]I no longer want to live as man lives; pray that I obtain what I desire. [9]Pray also for the Church in Syria that I have humbly left behind. My soul praises you along with the other Churches that have met me with love along the way. [10]Tell those who have arrived before me that I am on my way. They are good people, so please show your hospitality to them.

Ignatius (a.k.a. Theophorus)
August 23rd

An Aside

If the letter above comes across as irreverent or even flippant, please know that this is not the intent. I’ve simply read with understanding Ignatius’ message and recast it in the words that might would be used by a modern English speaker. If anything, this is a reflection on our modern culture that devalues thoughtful personal correspondence and makes an idol of brevity. God only knows what Ignatius might’ve said if he had been limited to only 140 characters.

In all fairness, I am a modern English speaker too, and if I have misunderstood what Ignatius was trying to say, by all means, please bring it to my attention.

December 27, 2017


Back to My Lists

I have always been fascinated by the stars. When I was young, it was the mythology that captured my imagination, and only as an adult, the science.

For now, this is a growing list of stargazing-related articles. I am certain that some logical organization will eventually emerge.

The vi Text Editor

Home > My Lists > Technology > Software Development References > The vi Text Editor

User Guides & Tutorials

Tips & Tricks

  • Insert contents of another file into current file using :r filename
  • Open second file in split window using :sp or :vsp. Use Ctrl+w to switch between window panes.

October 31, 2017

October 31, 2017: Momento Mori, Matthias Hauser, A Dark Room

Filed under: My Stack — Brandon @ 5:43 pm
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Momento Mori
“Remember death!” To practice momento mori is to remember that you too shall die one day. It is a reflection, a meditation on life, death, and the meaninglessness of earthly pursuits. Reminders of death were embedded in European art — paintings, sculpture, architecture…even the figures in large clocks — during the Medieval period and eventually the concept spread to the New World. One common practice is to keep a human skull (a replica will do) on the desk where one works or studies. I happen to follow a religious sister on Twitter who advocates this practice, and I must admit, I may be a bit late in stowing my Halloween decorations at work this year.

Matthias Hauser
Matthias Hauser is a fine-art photographer with an impressive portfolio, ranging from stunning landscapes to timeless still lifes. He even has a collection of mesmerizing fractal images. I first became familiar with Matthias’ work, however, when I found a few pieces from his Google Deep Dream collection posted on social media. For some reason beyond comprehension, I am fascinated with the Deep Dream Burger, which upon further inspection begins to resemble a conglomerate of creepy-crawly organisms more than it does food.

A Dark Room
This 2013 Open Source role-playing game by Doublespeak Games caught my attention sometime in the last year. It is text-based and single-player, which doesn’t exactly sound like a lot of fun; unless, of course, you are a fan of text-based games like I am. Unfortunately, it’s been gathering virtual dust in an open browser tab ever since, and I have not had time to sit and play with it for very long. I will admit, it starts off a bit slow, but I’ve read very promising things about it. I’m adding this to my stack, partly because I want to revisit the game, but also because my interest goes beyond the game itself. I want to see how it was written. That’s the glory of Open Source! Hopefully, I can do more with it soon.

October 5, 2017

Amoris Laetitia

Filed under: Christianity — Brandon @ 4:22 pm
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Home > My Research > Christianity > Selected Papal Writings > Amoris Laetitia


This is Pope Francis’ controversial exhortation (2016) that followed the two Synods on the Family (2014 & 2015).



  • The title (The Joy of Love in English) is derived from the first words of the document.
  • Paragraph 57 states, “The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereotype of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of different realities…”. This seems to be a deviation from the Church’s perennial teaching that both the Trinity and the Holy Family are indeed stereotypes of the ideal family. These examples are even cited in paragraphs 29 and 30.
  • Paragraph 78 clearly indicates that those in “irregular unions” do not (but may someday) enjoy sacramental marriage.
  • Paragraph 83 asserts that the Church rejects the death penalty.



  1. Family love is much desired today, especially by young people.
  2. The synod examined complex modern marriage/family issues to provide clarity to the Church.
  3. Solutions need not be doctrinal, but can differ by culture.
  4. The process was eye-opening. Contributions and considerations are recorded herein.
  5. It is fitting to write this in the Jubilee Year of Mercy.
  6. I will cover Scripture, current issues, Church teaching on marriage, love, pastoral advice, and a call for mercy and discernment.
  7. Many questions were addressed, hence the length of this writing. Read carefully and with purpose.

Chapter 1: In the Light of the Word

  1. The Bible is full of stories about families and their problems.
  2. The union of man and woman has existed since the beginning.
  3. The couple is made in God’s image, a sign of his creation.
  4. The fruitful love of the married couple is an image (icon) of God’s Trinitarian nature. Salvation history progressed through families, and thus, through the ability of the married couple to beget life.
  5. Love is an encounter, each giving the self to the other.
  6. The union is not merely physical, but the clinging of two souls in harmony.
  7. Children are a sign of continuity and are the building blocks of society.
  8. God should be found in the home, the domestic church.
  9. Faith is passed down through the family.
  10. Parents are responsible for education, and the children should respect them.
  11. Children are people, not property.
  12. Pain, evil, and violence can break up families, love and purity can be overturned by domination.
  13. The Bible also contains stories of family violence and hatred.
  14. Family problems are woven into Jesus’ parables.
  15. Thus, Sacred Scripture does not contain abstract ideas, but comfort for the suffering.
  16. Man is a laborer and work is essential to human dignity.
  17. Labor sustains the family and develops society.
  18. Unemployment, poverty, and hunger diminish the serenity of family life.
  19. Sin results in social degeneration and injustice; this includes the abuse of nature.
  20. Christ taught the law of love (by word and example), which bears the fruits of mercy and forgiveness.
  21. Love moves us toward tenderness.
  22. Thus we have examined the family in Scripture, a communion of persons in the image of the Trinity that should become an even greater dwelling place for the Holy Spirit.
  23. The Holy Family of Nazareth, and Mary in particular, are models for understanding the family experience.

Chapter 2: The Experiences and Challenges of Families

  1. The family is the future, and many studies have examined the challenges of today’s family, including the Synod.
  2. The family continues to evolve. It receives less outside support than in times past, but benefits from duty-sharing and improved personal communication.
  3. Extreme individualism is a danger to relationships, commitment, and the generous giving of self.
  4. In the light of such individualism, family life is seen as a benefit only when convenient.
  5. Christians cannot stop advocating marriage and should not impose it by rule, but should better understand and convey the reasons for choosing it.
  6. Marriage has been presented as an abstract theological ideal, with far more emphasis on the procreative aspect than on the unitive.
  7. Doctrine, bioethics, and moral issues have been the focus, not presenting marriage as a path to development, fulfillment, and grace.
  8. Thankfully, most people value permanent relationships and many experience the grace of the Sacraments, but too much pastoral energy has been spent denouncing worldliness instead of teaching how to find true happiness. The Church’s message is perceived as different from Jesus’ teachings.
  9. Christians cannot stop warning against cultural decline. Relationships are increasingly commoditized: consumed for certain benefits and then disposed of.
  10. The reasons for avoiding or postponing the start of a family are many. We must learn to arouse the courage of young people.
  11. Today’s culture does not harness affectivity, resulting in the inability of people (and thus marriages) to mature properly.
  12. Population decline is the result of politics, science, industrialization, social fears, consumerism, etc. The Church opposes State promoted/enforced population control.
  13. Weak faith in modern culture leads to distance from God and loneliness, both in individuals and in families. The State is responsible for helping young people realize plans for having a family.
  14. Public policy (juridical, economic, social, fiscal) should reduce family suffering (unemployment, healthcare, etc.) so that the family can nurture relationships within as well as participate in society.
  15. Irregular family constructs, war, terrorism, crime, and hardships of urban life contribute to the suffering of children. Scandalous abuse occurs when and where they should be the most safe.
  16. Migration can be beneficial to the family in some cases and destabilizing in others. Pastoral programs should be offered to those who leave as well as for those who stay behind.
  17. The family that welcomes a child with special needs is a special witness to faith and the gift of life.
  18. The same is true for the family that loves and cares for its elderly members, who too-often are considered a burden. The Church opposes euthanasia and assisted suicide as threats to the family.
  19. Poverty can greatly inhibit the personal growth of a child. The Church should offer comfort rather than judgment.
  20. Family life is often affected by everyday challenges such as job-related stress/exhaustion, addiction to television, lack of a common family meal, fear of the future welfare fo the children, etc.
  21. Drugs, alcohol, gambling, and other addictions contribute greatly to the breakdown of the family today.
  22. The weakening of the family threatens individual maturity, communal values, and moral progress of society. Only the family based on the traditional marriage can ensure the future of society. Other family constructs can only secure a certain level of stability at best.
  23. Some countries allow for polygamy, arranged marriages, and cohabitation (premarital and/or permanent), and legislation increasingly favors individual autonomy over the value of traditional marriage.
  24. The recognition of women’s rights has advanced in general, but a dignity equal with that of man is not yet fully realized.
  25. Men play an important role in family life and their absence is detrimental.
  26. Various forms of gender ideology deny the differences between man and women, thereby eliminating the anthropological basis of the family. Also, scientific advances allow for the separation of procreation and parenthood. Man today is tempted by culture to take the place of the Creator, instead of being a creature who respects what has been created.
  27. The challenges that families face today should drive missionary creativity.

Chapter 3: Looking to Jesus: The Vocation of the Family

  1. Families must be formed around the proclamation of the Gospel message (i.e. kerygma).
  2. Our teaching on the family must be inspired by, and indeed, can only be understood in the context of the Gospel message.
  3. This chapter is a summary of the Church’s teaching on marriage and the family.
  4. Marriage is a gift from God and must therefore be safeguarded.
  5. Jesus not only reaffirmed that marriage is indissoluble, but also taught that it is a restoration of God’s original plan for man.
  6. Jesus redeemed marriage and the family and bestows on them the grace to reflect the love of God and our communion with him.
  7. Jesus’ ministry was filled with interactions with families.
  8. The beauty of family life is exuded in the Nativity and the life of Jesus prior to public ministry.
  9. Nazareth can teach all families how to be a light in the world.
  10. Marriage is a community of life and love grounded in Christ through the spouses (Gaudium et Spes), and the Body of Christ is built up via the domestic church, making the Church manifest (Lumen Gentium).
  11. Church teaching has developed to include the responsibility of parenthood (Humanae Vitae) and the relationship of the family to the Church (Evangelii Nuntiandi).
  12. Family love is the way of the Church and, thus, marriage leads to holiness (Gratissimam Sane, Familiaris Consortio).
  13. Marital love based on the love of Christ becomes an icon of God’s relationship with his people (Deus Caritas Est), and love in general is a key principle of life in society (Caritas in Veritate).
  14. The Trinity resembles a family, and just as the Holy Spirit is a sign of the Father’s love for the Son’s bestowed at his baptism, so Holy Matrimony is a sacramental sign of Jesus for the Church.
  15. This sacrament is a sanctifying and salvific vocation, not merely a social convention, ritual, or sign of (human) commitment
  16. Marriage is a serious commitment of complete self-giving. The spouses become one flesh, just as Jesus took on the flesh of mankind.
  17. Physical union is expressed in complete consent; thus, marriage points to the mystery of the incarnation.
  18. The (Christian) man and woman are the ministers of this sacrament, which is manifested by their mutual concent and expressed in physical union. When a non-Christian couple is baptized, their (affirmed) marriage automatically becomes sacramental.
  19. The Gospel helps even immature and neglected marriages grow.
  20. Human relationships can only be truly understood in the context of Christ, yet (at least some of) the reality of marriage can be seen in other religious traditions.
  21. Pastoral care is warranted for those in irregular unions and the Church seeks the grace of their conversion, which, through deep affection and noteworthy stability, may lead them to sacramental marriage.
  22. Pastors must clearly state Church teaching while exercising careful discernment (situational awareness), and must not judge those seeking counsel.
  23. The conjugal union is naturally procreative. Children are the fruit and fulfilment of love.
  24. Man and woman share in the work of creation; thus they are instruments of God’s love.
  25. Having children is increasing becoming a small varible in a couple’s life plan, and the Church applauds couples who accept children into their lives, including children who are adopted or have disabilities.
  26. If the family is the sanctuary of life, then it is hypocritical for the spouses to reject or destroy it. Putting the right to one’s own body over the right of another to live effectively asserts that the other person is one’s property (sic. the right to choose when and how the property will be disposed of). This is the rationale for supporting the rights of conscientious objection and of a natural death (i.e. without treatment or euthanasia), as well as the rejection of the death penalty.
  27. The education of children is a right and duty of the parents, and all others involved (i.e. schools) are subsidiary and complementary, but cannot replace parents.
  28. The Church supports and assists parents in this vocation that is an intrinsic part of marriage.
  29. The family perpetuates the faith in its many facets. (CCC 1657)
  30. The Church is a family of families, and the Church and the family mutually benefit one anouther.
  31. Family love continually strengthens the Church, and the role of the family vocation is unique and cannot be replaced.

More to come…

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