Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Have a Seat

Magazine article U.S. Catholic

Have a Seat

Article excerpt

As a German native I often get a kick out of German phrases that have made their way into the English language--from debates over the prevailing zeitgeist (the "spirit of the times") to the not-so-nice schadenfreude (the secret enjoyment we get from others' misfortunes).

One of the more curious such phrases is a term that biblical scholars have picked up from their German peers. It's called the Sitz im Leben (literally, the "seat in life"), and it refers to the life context in which a certain biblical passage or expression of faith is rooted.

For most of us the primary Sitze im Leben for our faith are our families. These "seats" include the high chair, the chairs around the dinner table, and the visitor's chair in the hospital. In my family these days it's also the passenger seat in the minivan, gripping the dashboard as our teenage drivers merge onto the highway. It is within our family lives and relationships that we often experience and live out most immediately the call to love one another in both its most exhilarating and most painful incarnations.

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This month's Expert Witness interview ("Our love is here to stay," pages 18-22) features the wisdom of family ministry leader Mary Jo Pedersen, who says that "marriage is life's most important work." She urges us to recognize and develop the "spiritual disciplines of marriage."

One of those disciplines, she says, is the discipline of "yielding," which at different stages in marriage requires different kinds of small and big sacrifices from each partner. …

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