- What is more important to the health of society than the health of the family?
- What is more important to our personal happiness than the happiness of our families?
- What is more important for evangelization than the holiness of families?
The answer to all these questions is NOTHING.
This is why it is so important for every one of us to understand what the family is called to be and to help the family become what it is.
While only a few of us were able to attend the eighth World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015, all of us can support its aims.
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family created a preparatory catechesis called Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive to help us do just that.
The Office for Marriage and Family Life for the Diocese of Springfield, IL has created a ten-week program to help individuals, couples, and small groups read and reflect on what the Church teaches about marriage and the family so we can have stronger and happier families.
The materials include:
- A copy of the booklet Love is Our Mission
- A video to introduce each of the ten sessions
- A reading guide for each session and
- A reflection guide for individuals, couples, and small groups
The materials are free (parishes are asked to pay half the cost of the booklet for groups they organize).
This will be a great way to begin Lent and to extend your learning, prayer, reflection, and actions on behalf of the family through the Easter season.
As St. John Paul II said, "The future of humanity passes by way of the family." The biggest crisis today is the crisis in the family. Join the struggle to understand the mission of the family and help families become what they are supposed to be.
Chapter 1: Created for Joy
We are more than an accident of evolution. We are greater than the sum of our biology. God exists. He is good. He loves us. He made us in his image to share in his joy. He takes an active hand in our lives. He sent his only Son to restore our dignity and lead us home to him.
Chapter 2: The Mission of Love
God works through us. We have a mission. We are in the world for a purpose — to receive God's love and to show God's love to others. God seeks to heal a broken universe. He asks us to be his witnesses and helpers in that work.
Chapter 3: The Meaning of Human Sexuality
The tangible, earthly, corporeal world is more than inert matter or modeling clay for the human will. Creation is sacred. It has sacramental meaning. It reflects God's glory. That includes our bodies. Our sexuality has the power to procreate, and shares in the dignity of being created in the image of God. We need to live accordingly.
Chapter 4: Two Become One
We are not made to be alone. Human beings need and complete each other. Friendship and community satisfy that longing with bonds of common interest and love. Marriage is a uniquely intimate form of friendship that calls a man and a woman to love each other in the manner of God's covenant. Marriage is a sacrament. Married love is fruitful and offered without reservation. This love is in the image of Jesus' faithfulness to the Church.
Chapter 5: Creating the Future
Marriage is meant to be fertile and to welcome new life. Children shape the future, just as they themselves are shaped in their families. Without children, there can be no future. Children reared with love and guidance are the foundation for a loving future. Wounded children portend a wounded future. Families are the bedrock for all larger communities. Families are domestic churches, places where parents help children discover that God loves them and has a plan for each child's life.
Chapter 6: All Love Bears Fruit
Not everyone is called to marriage. But every life is meant to be fertile. Every life has the power and the need to nurture new life — if not through bearing and raising children, then through other vital forms of self-giving, building, and service. The Church is an extended family of different vocations, each distinct but each needing and supporting the others. Priesthood, religious life, and the celibate lay vocation enrich, and are enriched by, the witness of the married state. The different ways of being chaste and celibate outside of marriage are ways of donating one's life to God's service and the human community.
Chapter 7: Light in a Dark World
At its best, the family is a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, patience, and humility in the midst of a world darkened by selfishness and conflict. In these ways, the family teaches what it means to be human. However, many temptations arise which try to coax us into forgetting that male and female are created for covenant and communion. For example, poverty, affluence, pornography, contraception, philosophical and other intellectual mistakes can all create contexts that challenge or threaten healthy family life. The Church resists these things for the sake of protecting the family.
Chapter 8: A Home for the Wounded Heart
Many people, especially today, face painful situations resulting from poverty, disability, illness and addictions, unemployment, and the loneliness of advanced age. But divorce and same-sex attraction impact the life of the family in especially intimate ways. Christian families and networks of families should be sources of mercy, safety, friendship, and support for those struggling with these issues .
Chapter 9: Mother, Teacher, Family: The Nature and Role of the Church
The Church has institutional forms because she must work in the world. But that does not exhaust her essence. The Church is the Bride of Christ, a "she," not an "it." In the words of Saint John XXIII, she is our mother and teacher, our comforter and guide, our family of faith. Even when her people and leaders sin, we still need the Church's wisdom, sacraments, support, and proclamation of the truth, because she is the body of Jesus himself in the world — the family of God's people writ large.
Chapter 10: Choosing Life
God made us for a reason. His love is our life mission. This mission enables us to find our true identity. If we choose to embrace this mission, we will have a new perspective on many issues, not just the family. To live the mission of the domestic church means that Catholic families will sometimes live as minorities, with different values from their surrounding culture. Our mission of love will require courage and fortitude. Jesus is calling, and we can respond, choosing lives of faith, hope, charity, joy, service, and mission.