In His farewell discourse to the disciples recorded by St. John, Jesus said, "I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father" (Jn 14:31). And again, Christ said, "The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own authority; but the father who dwells in me does His works." (Jn 14:10) Even as a young boy, Jesus acted in fulfillment of God the Father's will. When Mary and Joseph discovered their son in the Temple amidst the teachers, He said to them, "Why did you search for me? Did you not know I had to be in my Father's house?" (Lk 2:29)
Which brings us to the consideration of our Catholic families. We can, with abundant justification, lament the condition of the world and our own culture, so hostile are both to the Christian family. Misguided and even hostile elements within society work hard to redefine the very essence or structure of the family as something other than what God intended: husband, wife and if God so blesses the spouses, children. The challenges and hostile forces that confront the family today, however, cannot be addressed by the federal or state governments or overcome by any social program. The remedy lies in following the example of the Holy Family of Nazareth: by seeking first in all things the Kingdom of God. From work to entertainment, whatever we may do, may we do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. The most dangerous enemy that the family faces in the year 2002 is the very same enemy that the first human family faced in the Garden of Eden: sin. Whether the world is more sinful today when it was back then is debatable. But of this much we can be certain: "Where sin abounds," as St. Paul wrote, "grace has far surpassed it." (Rm 5:20)
I would like to propose a few questions for parents to assist them in inspecting the condition of their "domestic church":
- What, concretely, am I doing to teach my children about Jesus Christ? Bringing them to Sunday Mass and enrolling them in parish religion education program are good starts, but alone they are insufficient to guarantee a holy family. Do we read and study the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the Bible together, as a family? Do we even own a copy of the Catechism, a gift that Pope John Paul II has given to the Church and that he asks be found regularly consulted in every Catholic home?
- Apart from grace before meals, how often does the family pray and practice devotions together? Do we ever pray the Rosary as a family? Do we ensure that the family attends Mass on holy days of obligation? Do we ever allow sports or other activities to replace Sunday Mass attendance?
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