Dear Friends of Chestnut Hill:
The Prelate of Opus Dei, Rev. Fernando Ocariz, wrote in a letter dated September 24, 2017, “Consider whether your children can be happy to belong to their family, because they have parents who listen to them and take them seriously, who love them as they are, who are not afraid to share their own questions with their children.”  For the full text on the Opus Dei website, please go to:

In last month’s letter, I suggested that one goal for the school year that families could make would be to create an atmosphere of good humor in our homes. This can be challenging at times, especially if there are difficulties present.  Perhaps it helps to realize that we should not equate good humor with always having a joke ready to tell.  That may help, but what is more important is to see what we can do to maintain a pleasant atmosphere at home.  Listening well goes a long way here to build up this atmosphere.  That may mean finding the right time of day, or night, to see when someone wants to talk.  It means, as Rev. Ocariz suggests, sharing your own concerns with your children.  That practice tells the young persons that my parents are interested in what I think regarding their parents’ concerns.  The children may offer the simplest and best solutions for our adult concerns.  Listening well is all powerful.

Another thought from Rev. Ocariz’s September 24 letter for creating a good atmosphere in the home:  point out the beauty in the small realities of daily life or learn the real value of things. We all appreciate, for example, hearing of various incidents in daily life, in or outside of our family.  It could be how Mom delivered soup to a sick neighbor, how Johnny discovered a tree frog in the backyard or how Dad dealt with a challenging customer at work.

Let’s see if we can create the occasions for creating a pleasant atmosphere in our families.

Have a great fall, Joe Billmeier