CLP Talk 5 The Christian Family
MODULE 1: AN AUTHENTIC AND SPIRIT-FILLED CHRISTIAN LIFE
OVERVIEW OF THE SESSION
“If it is displeasing to you to serve the Lord, choose today whom you will serve, the gods your ancestors served beyond the River or the gods of the Amorites in whose country you are dwelling. As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” Joshua 24:15 (NABRE)
GOAL: To stress the importance of the Christian family, and to give practical advice for building up a strong Christian family
In God’s plan, the Christian family is a community of life and love. It has a mission to guard, reveal and communicate love. However, God has lost His central place in the family as it is under serious attack in many fronts. Many have claimed to redefine both marriage and family that causes great confusion in our society and world today. Let us fulfill our mission by being present in our own families through three simple yet enriching ways: eating together, praying constantly and loving each other unconditionally.
- This is a talk show type session where the husband and wife are the speakers and their children are their sharers.
- Triad Sharing: Participants show their family picture and introduce each member of his/ her family
- Talk proper
- Sharers (children of the speakers)
- Group discussion
The speakers are a Couples for Christ husband and wife tandem who is a strong, Spirit-filled Christian witness in building a home centered on Christ. They share their journey as a Christian family with its joys, problems and hopes. It is preferred that their children are also members/leaders of the Family Ministries for a stronger and more relevant witnessing.
Depending on the number of children the couple may have, the children may share about their life as a family, how they deepen their faith, and highlights how God moves faithfully and powerfully in their imperfect family circumstances.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY
THE EXPANDED TALK OUTLINE — FOR THE USE OF THE SPEAKER
Love begets love, and it begins in the family. The family is life’s first school. In a bigger and general sense, the family is the building block of society, of the Church, and is the “cradle of every vocation.”
As an institution, the family is under serious attack in many fronts. Marriages are being broken and the traditional definition of family is being challenged. Many have claimed to redefine both marriage and family that causes great confusion in our society and world today.
In almost all countries, except in the Philippines and in the Vatican City, the seat of the Roman Catholic Church, divorce is legal. In many countries, abortion and same-sex unions are recognized, accepted and legal.
The family is imperfect yet a beautiful gift from God. Pope Francis affirms us in Amoris Laetitia (2016): “I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way. The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereotype of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems.” (AL 57)
I. GOD’S PLAN FOR THE FAMILY
a. God has intended the family for the transmission of life.
In God’s plan, the Christian family is a community of life and love.1 It has a mission to to guard, reveal and communicate love.
- cf Gaudium Et Spes, 47
- Familiaris Consortio, 17.
Each family is the home of God, and its members belong to God. Parents must regard their children as children of God and respect them as human persons.
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2222
- Familiaris Consortio 28
- Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 66
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2223
- Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 315
“The fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator – that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person.”
It was meant to be so from the very beginning. (Gen 1:27-28, Gen 2:18-24) It made sense therefore that God created man male and female, with their physiology so formed as to enable man to increase, multiply, and fill the earth. God intended man and woman to be one, not independent individuals producing babies, but husband and wife raising a family.
b. The family is a place for teaching children and training leaders.
The family is a place to transmit wisdom and values of life.
The overall education of children is a “most serious duty” and at the same time a “primary right” of parents. This is not just a task or a burden, but an essential and inalienable right that parents are called to defend and of which no one may claim to deprive them.
“Parents have the first responsibility for the education of their children. They bear witness to this responsibility first by creating a home where tenderness, forgiveness, respect, fidelity, and disinterested service are the rule.”6 Teaching is not formal, but rather comes in the everyday activities in the home.
It is of utmost importance to help mold children to grow in maturity through an outpouring of love, discipline and education in virtues.
c. The family is a domestic church.
The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures. One of which is for men to rediscover their God-given roles as fathers. Parents, especially the fathers, are to be the priests in their families. They present God to their families—by their example of a living Christianity, by diligently teaching Scripture, (Deut. 6:7) by the use of symbols. (Deut. 6:8-9) They present their families to God—by family prayer, by blessing the children.
“The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. As such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part.” Evangelii Nuntiandi, 71
II. WHY GOD’S PLAN FOR FAMILIES IS NOT HAPPENING
- God has lost his central place in the family.
Parents no longer bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord. (Eph. 6:4) They look more and more to psychology as a source of wisdom for raising their children.
Husbands and wives do not follow God’s order for them. There is confusion of roles. (Eph. 5:22-25) Their commitment is shaky. They cannot be depended on and the partners become insecure.
There is too much importance given to acquiring material possessions and having an easy and comfortable life.
b. The family itself is losing its importance.
The pace of modern life has become very fast, making it difficult for lasting relationships to develop. The culture of busyness where we fill our schedules with too much take us away from what are essentials. Moreover, many of the family’s responsibilities have been taken over by groups in society–education in schools, livelihood in offices and factories, recreation in malls.
The traditional family has become dispensable–separations and divorces becoming easy to obtain, living in is not only acceptable but has become “normal”. The throw-away culture is evident even in the way we deal with each other. “We treat affective relationships the way we treat material objects and the environment: everything is disposable; everyone uses and throws away, takes and breaks, exploits and squeezes to the last drop. Then, goodbye.” Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 29 10 cf. Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 33JP II, Familiaris Consortio, #17 12 Pope Francis, Catechesis of the Holy Father: General Audience, 11 November 2015.
c. The family is under attack by evil forces. (1 Pet 5:8)
Marriage and family life have always been under attack, but threats in the recent years have reached extraordinary heights.
The devil wants to break up the family and promotes many things to undermine the family, such as secularism (taking God out of the picture in everyday life including educational systems and government), relativism (belief that there is no absolute truth, and that truth is subjective), and viral indifference, among others. Pope Francis notes that rampant individualism makes it difficult today for a person to give oneself generously to another.10
III. WHAT CAN WE DO?
St. John Paul II exhorts families: “Family, become what you are.”11 It is imperative that as parents, as husband and wife, together we make a decision to make God the center of our family. People will know that we are Christians by the love in our hearts expressed in our homes.
Pope Francis reminds us:
“A family that hardly ever eats together, or that does not talk but watches television, or looks at the smartphone, is a ‘barely familial’ family. When children are engrossed with a computer at the table, or a mobile phone, and do not talk to each other, this is not a family, it is like a boarding house.” 12
Eating is a symbol of togetherness. At the table, we talk and listen to one another. We nourish our relationships in table fellowship with the members of our family.
Consecrate our family to God. Pray as a family. Fr. Patrick Peyton reminds us: “The family that prays together, stays together.” Pray the rosary as a family. Pray over your children. Pray for healing of family members. Intercede for each other’s needs.
Celebrate the Holy Mass by attending regularly together as a family. This does not only apply to young families but also to families with adult children. This is one way we pass on our Christian Catholic faith to them. Commit to serve the Lord together through Couples for Christ, its Family and Social Ministries, and through ANCOP.
Make time for the task of building a strong family. Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain (Ps 127:1).
The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes.13 Examine your daily life to ensure that your family has enough quality time together. Be ready to reduce your other activities if necessary. Plan regular family recreation, vacation and other activities. Create opportunities for love to flourish.
- Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 315.
- Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 252.
- Amoris Laetitia, paragraph 66.
Know, understand and fulfill your role as parents. Fathers, be the pastor, provider and protector of your family. Model after St. Joseph and his example of spiritual fatherhood to Jesus and his steady parental presence. Mothers, look to Mother Mary for inspiration, that you may be a constant nurturer and life-giver in your home. Light your home with unconditional love, as “all family life is a ‘shepherding’ in mercy.”14
Every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world.
We look to the Holy Family for inspiration. Pope Francis, in Amoris Laetitita, says: “Nazareth teaches us the meaning of family life, its loving communion, its simple and austere beauty, its sacred and inviolable character. May it teach how sweet and irreplaceable is its training, how fundamental and incomparable its role in the social order.” (AL 66)
Prayer to the Holy Family
(The speaker may end with this prayer.)
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendour of true love; to you we turn with trust. Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches.
Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division; may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing. Holy Family of Nazareth, make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family and its beauty in God’s plan.
Jesus, Mary and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer. Amen.
- For the men: Have I assumed full responsibility for the spiritual and material needs of my family?
- For the women: Have I supported my husband in his role and done my share in building up a Christian family?