A Celebration of Family
By Judie Brown
In these times of raging challenges to the family unit, including the most innocent among us—our preborn brothers and sisters—we are called to celebrate the family. The twisted attitudes and messaging of the media, our broken school system, and our government are filled with deception and often fill us with dread. We can only take so much of that without losing a sense of joy. That is why we must pause every now and then and take the time to drink from the spring of hope provided by one of the Church’s greatest leaders: St. John Paul II!
We founded American Life League in April 1979, just six months after Cardinal Karol Józef Wojtyla was elected to the papacy of the Catholic Church. And we based ALL’s entire philosophy on the Catholic teachings that also emanate from his teachings. St. John Paul II wrote many works that inspire Catholic people, especially families, and his example raised us up as he taught us truth through his love of Christ and the Blessed Mother. His wisdom seemed to know no bounds.
As someone who was privileged to know him, I cannot help but think he would be happy to see us take a moment to celebrate truth. As St. Gregory of Narek wrote, “Faith, that happy and favored word, which lasts forever untarnished and unbounded, honored together with charity and hope brings the rewards of truly clear vision, perfect wisdom, acquaintance with God, and familiarity with the Exalted.”
So below you will find our favorite quotations from Familiaris Consortio—St. John Paul II’s seminal apostolic exhortation on the role of the Christian family in the modern world:
#21: The Christian family is also called to experience a new and original communion which confirms and perfects natural and human communion. In fact the grace of Jesus Christ, “the first-born among many brethren” is by its nature and interior dynamism “a grace of brotherhood,” as St. Thomas Aquinas calls it. The Holy Spirit, who is poured forth in the celebration of the sacraments, is the living source and inexhaustible sustenance of the supernatural communion that gathers believers and links them with Christ and with each other in the unity of the Church of God. The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called “the domestic Church.”
#49 Among the fundamental tasks of the Christian family is its ecclesial task: the family is placed at the service of the building up of the Kingdom of God in history by participating in the life and mission of the Church.
#51 [The] profession of faith demands that it be prolonged in the life of the married couple and of the family. God, who called the couple to marriage, continues to call them in marriage. In and through the events, problems, difficulties and circumstances of everyday life, God comes to them, revealing and presenting the concrete “demands” of their sharing in the love of Christ for His Church in the particular family, social and ecclesial situation in which they find themselves.
The discovery of and obedience to the plan of God on the part of the conjugal and family community must take place in “togetherness,” through the human experience of love between husband and wife, between parents and children, lived in the Spirit of Christ.
Thus the little domestic Church, like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith.
#59 The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.
These few snippets from St. John Paul II’s exhortation remind us that, in the family—the domestic church—there reside hope, joy, love, and comfort. Though the world may try to destroy these things, this will never be possible as long as we cling to Christ.
Knowing this, let us strive daily—through our prayers and by our actions—to help others see the hope, joy, love, and comfort of the Church.
Celebrate your family; celebrate your faith!