We actually live in Church. We were baptized into the Lord and we now live in His Body. The Christian family IS a church, the smallest and most vital cell of that Body. The extended church community is a family of families. This understanding is more than piety--it is sound ecclesiology, solid anthropology, in fact it is reality for those who are baptized into Christ Jesus. It can lead us to holiness and happiness.
CHESAPEAKE, VA. (Catholic Online) - "But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way." (1Cor. 12:31) I woke up in church this morning. Not on a cold dark floor or surrounded by votive candles and stained glass, but next to my partner in faith, my best friend, my beloved wife of 34 years, Laurine.
We are staying overnight this Christmas at the home of our oldest daughter. She wanted to host Christmas this year for the first time. She is the first of our five grown children. Her home is filled to overflowing with love, and the floors are filled with our children who were able to travel here, our grandchildren, and a rambunctious little dog. Together, we form an ecclesial community in the home. I was truly "in Church" this morning.
From antiquity the Christian Family has been called "the domestic church." Perhaps the most often quoted use of the term is from the "Golden Mouth", the Bishop John Chrysostom, writing in Antioch (the city where they were first called Christians) in the fourth century.
After all, the church is a relational reality, "when two or three are gathered." said the Lord. (Matt. 18:20) Also, at least within the Catholic and Orthodox Church, Christian Marriage is a Sacrament. In other words, it is a participation in- and sign of- the Life of the Trinity! As the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians, we are "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1)
Yet, how often do we really view this way of life in this way?
Even the most sincere Christians can still live out their Christian life with a certain dualism. They see themselves as living "in the world" and "going to Church." Family life sometimes gets included in "the world" or perhaps it is seen as a part of a "duty in the Lord" which often "competes" with the Christian mission.
Please understand, as a Catholic Christian, I love to frequent beautiful Church buildings and to participate in the beauty of liturgical worship. However, the point I am trying to make is a vital one. We actually live in Church. We were baptized into the Lord and we now live in His Body. The Christian family IS a church, the smallest and most vital cell of that Body. The extended church community is a family of families. This understanding is more than piety--it is sound ecclesiology, solid anthropology, in fact it is reality for those who are baptized into Christ Jesus.
The day will soon burst into a flurry of activity with a unique ritual pattern. To the untrained eye, it would look rather "hectic". But with the eyes of domestic faith, my wife Laurine and I will try to see the deeper purpose. All those years of raising children, and now trying to raise grandchildren, we have come to comprehend the mystery hidden in the routine.
There is almost a liturgical sameness to the pattern that emerges after so many years- by practice, developed spiritual purpose, and just plain ordinary human repetition. But it can all become transforming when lived out "in Christ". It is here, where the "rubber hits the road" for most Christians. It is here that the universal call to holiness, in all its real, earthy, incarnation is lived out-in all of its humanness and ordinariness.
Here is also where true progress in the spiritual life can find its raw material. The question becomes whether we who are called to live Christian marriage and family as a vocation do so by seeking to respond to grace and by developing the eyes to see, ears to hear, and hearts to accept the hidden invitations to love found beneath the surface of the daily "stuff" of Christian Marriage and Family life.
The Greek word translated "emptied" in an extraordinary passage in the letter to the Philippian Christians is "kenosis." St. Paul wrote to the Corinthians concerning our call to enter into the self emptying of Jesus, "Have this mind among yourselves, which was in Christ Jesus, who though He was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself. "(Phil. 2:5)
This Greek word refers to the voluntary pouring out-like water-of oneself in an act of sacrificial love. This "emptying" is the proper response of the love of a Christian for the One who first loved us. It is also the very heart of the vocation of Christian marriage and family life. There is a "domestic kenosis", a domestic emptying out which comes in the ordinary "stuff" of daily life in a Christian family. There is a "domestic ascesis", a way of living an ascetical life, when we embrace the very real struggles involved in living this out as a vocation in Christ.
However, we need to move from the realm of fuzzy feelings or theological theory to reality - the emptying is lived out in a unique and grace filled way in Christian marriage and family life. As Christian spouses, mothers and fathers, grandfathers and grandmothers, we need to have our eyes opened like the disciples on the Road, the way, to Emmaus. (Luke 24: 13ff) This call of married love and family life is more than a covenant (though it is that), more than an ordinance (though it is that) - it is an invitation to sacrificial love--to holiness. Christian Marriage is a Sacrament, a participation in the very life of God through which and for which we are given grace, the very Life of God.
When the right choices are made in this life of "domestic kenosis", we cooperate with the Lord's invitation to follow Him by exercising our human freedom; we choose to give ourselves away in love to the "other." In so doing, we are gradually transformed into an image, a living icon, of Jesus Christ and we actually participate in His Kenosis. This way of holiness is not easy, as anyone who has lived the vocation for more than three months can attest, but make no mistake; it is a very real path to holiness. It is also a wonderful one. The true challenge lies in the choices we make, daily, hourly, and even moment-by-moment.
The same two trees still grow in the garden of domestic life that appeared in the first garden called Eden. They both invite the exercise of our human freedom. There is one like the one in Eden where the first Eve said, "no I will not serve." We are always tempted to choose the "fruit" of this tree of self centeredness whenever we seek to hide from the call and refuse to love, by emptying ourselves "kenotically"
Then, there is the one that resembles the tree on Calvary where the "second Eve,"(as the fathers of the Church called Mary, the Mother of Jesus) stood with the beloved disciple John, beheld her crucified Son and her Lord who was "Love Incarnate", and again proclaimed her "Fiat", her "yes." In doing so she models the response of all Christians for all time.
However, as it was with the Mother of the Lord, (both when the angel Gabriel came and made that extraordinary announcement, and again on that mountain when she beheld her Son and Savior), the choice is our own--- to be made daily, even hourly. With these choices, presented to us from the moment we open our eyes every morning to the time we close them at night, we proceed on the way of the Cross through death and into the eternal now of Resurrected life in Jesus Christ.
That is the more excellent way, the way of love. That is the Way of holiness. That is what we celebrate on the Feast of the Holy Family.
By Tony Magliano
Seventy years ago, on August 6, 1945, the single most destructive weapon ever unleashed upon human beings and the environment - the atomic bomb - was dropped by an American B-29 bomber on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, killing approximately 80,000 people. Three days ... continue reading
By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Ex-Pastor Tullian Tchividjian of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida broke his silence after his recent moral failure admission and stepping down from his post. Billy Graham's grandson wrote an open letter to his supporters and friends, ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Christians all over the world are suffering from increasing prejudice and persecution. It is no secret that Islamic extremism and repressive governments are trying hard to perpetuate the oppression of Christianity. Pope Francis has been moved to warn of "a form of ... continue reading
By CNA/EWTN News
Jesus Christ's miraculous multiplication of the loaves shows that he offers "fullness of life for hungry man," Pope Francis said Sunday. He encouraged everyone to offer what little they have to God so that God can multiply their gifts and good deeds. Vatican ... continue reading
By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Wearing your best outfit or putting on a little makeup in preparation for Church isn't too looked down upon. A leading Christian writer shared with Crosswalk.com what she has realized over years of church participation. Although she loves beautiful clothes and make-up, ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
He was the first American who contracted the deadly Ebola virus - fearful and sick, Dr. Kent Brantly came to realize something important for Christians and their relationship with God. Amid the pain and moments of uncertainty, from being diagnosed positive with ... continue reading
By J. Matt Barber
So this was rock bottom. The day, which yet again wore into night with fast food and old Bonanza reruns, would end like all the rest. Where were my car keys? As I searched in preparation for another trip to the liquor store, I made my way to my bedroom and opened ... continue reading
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
With no end in sight, "donor fatigue" is setting in for those trying to help Middle Eastern Christians fleeing ISIS. There appears to be no solutions, only increasing refugees and more need. The refugees' situation is only getting worse. Refugees now realize ... continue reading
By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Legal battle over the issue of a giant cross standing over a veterans' memorial has been a long and tedious fight, but an agreement may now put it all to rest, keeping the monument on the land. Atheists and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have filed legal ... continue reading
By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
The lips on a painted image of the Virgin Mary, on display at the St. Charbels Church in New South Wales, Australia, were reportedly witnessed moving along with the reading of the Lord's Prayer. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The video featuring the Virgin ... continue reading