Christ’s concern about the pastoral care of families begins with the husband and the wife. Here in what the Church calls the ‘spousal family’ (Familiaris Consortio, JP II, 1981) is the core of the extended family of children and of the Church Herself.
It is good for us on occasion to remember what Christ teaches us about marriage. Marriage is a sacrament established by Christ for the salvation of the human family through the spouses and their children.
This new family should always be conformed to the Holy Family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus. In this way, each member of the family will reflect the Divine Family of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
It is not easy to build and nurture a family in these hard times. We have to make difficult decisions about securing a lifestyle that is practical and sensible, while many times there are no support systems to help couples build a secure and safe environment in which to stabilize a form a wholesome family.
Society has developed expectations and subsequent peer pressure present options for couples that do not support the unity of the family or communion with the Church. Things like: living together, contraception, being married outside the Church, letting children decide what religion they are, putting Sunday worship second to financial gain. These things break down marriage and family life. They do not encourage its faithful endurance.
Because many people feel that what Christ teaches us about marriage is wrong, does not make them right. Christ gives us the only truth that will set us free. Our belief in marriage is sacred and by its nature will never change.
No matter what the law of our country becomes, Jesus will teach the truth about marriage and about authentic human life itself. He will not change the course of truth to meet societal trends or misguided illusions of what is right and wrong.
Without a good practice of our Catholic religion, many temptations and a lack of direction can lead to confusion, a loss of commitment and unwillingness to persevere and make marriage seem an impossible task. But, my dear friends, “With God all things are possible.”
There are those in our parish who know the pain of failure in marriage; those who know the loneliness of bringing up a family on their own; and those who suffer tragedy and illness in their family. We should be conscious and aware of our parish’s support and encouragement for them. We should help direct them in the work of family life, filling them with hope and explaining how to attain real joy the midst of daily labor.
Couples who have lived the marital sacrament faithfully for many years can teach younger couples how love solidifies a family; how through thick or thin children can grow in the family of the Church and how prayer, the Eucharist and Confession, works for fathers and mothers and husbands and wives.
Together as a parish we can help younger families by being living examples of what a good man is or what a good woman is, by being living examples of good spousal love, and good examples of what it means to be mutually loving and supporting.
Families consecrated with Christ as their center and heart, become true worshippers in a faithful parish, committed to the building up our neighborhoods and becoming servants of those less fortunate, all for the love of Jesus.
Together then, parish and family, spouses and children, we can with the psalmist accept this blessing: ‘may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life!” (Psalm 128)