September 2, 2019

The Victory of the Christian Family

Baptism and marriage establishes a supernatural reality - the Christian family. This mystery is raised to an even more powerful sign when the marriage is sacramental, when both husband and wife are baptized and marry with the blessing of the Church. Yet, even when one spouse or the other is baptized, the mystery of the Christian family has taken hold. Indeed, if a son or daughter were the only baptized member of the family, the power of Christ's grace is already being unleashed throughout the whole household.

I assert this because families struggle today. In some cases, disciples of the Lord find their households in bitter disarray.  A breakdown in basic kindness and a proclivity to resentment haunt our homes. Many question whether the hard work of mutual faithfulness and sacrifice is worth it. Yet our consciences cry out and we know in our hearts that we must not forsake the bonds of love established by God in our lives. Peace in our family requires a great battle, even a constant battle, and despite our many questions, we know we must engage the fray.

In the face of so many challenges to our love for one another, is there a reason for our hope?  Yes. His Name is Jesus. The price He paid for our sake is the source of restoration and victory for our families, no matter the sin we must confront. His Cross establishes new relations between our souls and God, and these new relations implicate all our other relationships - including those intimate relationships of family life.

Because of what Christ suffered for our sake, the family bears a unique relationship with the Holy Trinity. Because of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the souls of each of the baptized, each family relationship become capable of revealing the love of the Father communicated by Jesus in the power of the Holy Spirit.  This relationship of life, love and truth in God breaks into every relationship the closer each family member draws to God. This divine life is an active reality, sanctifying the most commonplace things, making everything of family life into a kind of sacrament in which the Lord's glory shines through.  This mystery is so superabundant that if but one member draws close to the Lord in prayer and fasting, the whole family can become vulnerable to this divine reality.

So it is in the family that we pray for one another. We never pray alone. The Holy Spirit who prays in us also moves the hearts of all of heaven -- including the heart of Mary, the Mother of the Lord. She is not indifferent to the plights of our family. With her Son and the hosts of heaven, she is at work, with her maternal love, bringing about something beautiful, a hidden victory of love, truth and life: the heart warming triumph of grace filled humanity over the limits of sin and misery.

(This is the first part of my presentation to the SCRC in Anaheim, California, Sept. 1, 2019.)

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