Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/27/2010 (4 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

The Christian family is called to be a 'domestic church' on mission in the world.


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.

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.

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.

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/27/2010 (4 years ago)

Published in Living Faith

Keywords: Domestic church, family life, marriage, Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Deacon Keith Fournier


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.

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal:
Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.


Rosaries, Crosses, Prayer Cards and more... by Catholic Shopping .com


Comments


More Living Faith

'Peace be with You'

Image of

By Tony Magliano

"On the evening of that first day of the week," according to the Gospel of John, "when the doors were locked, where the disciples were... Jesus came and stood in their midst and said to them, 'Peace be with you.' " To his closest followers, who feared that they too ... continue reading


What really caused Apostle Paul's blindness? Scientists believe they've figured it out Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A comparison among modern celestial events may help find what caused Apostle Paul to lose his eyesight for three days. His temporary blindness is an important historical event for the Christians as it led to where religion and the world is today, making it a ... continue reading


Conference sets out to bring the Gospel to the streets

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

An amazing conference striving to bring the Gospel to the streets will be held in San Clemente, CA on May 2. Speakers will focus on inspiring followers of Christ to apply the Gospel to today's social issues. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Those attending will ... continue reading


Slaughter of Ethiopian Christians is 'a testimony which cries out to be heard,' Pope Francis says Watch

Image of Depicted in a 29-minute video, entitled

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In speaking of the wholesale slaughter of at least 30 Ethiopian Christians by the Islamist State in Libya, Pope Francis declared that the blood of Christians "is a testimony which cries out to be heard by everyone who can still distinguish between good and ... continue reading


Catholic pastor warns parishioners faith is not enough for safety, encourages gun possession Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Issuing a pro-gun letter to the members of the church, Reverend Edward Fride encourages having guns and attending a concealed pistol license (CPL) classes. Through the letter, the pastor from the Christ the King Catholic Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan, warned there may ... continue reading


Apostle of California, Father Junipero Serra, to be canonized by Pope during U.S. visit Watch

Image of Professor Guzman Carriquiry, Secretary in charge of the Vice-Presidency of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America recently expressed his displeasure at the news of the California Senate's wish to replace the statue of Brother Junipero with that of a NASA astronaut.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is scheduled to personally preside over the canonization ceremony of Father Junipero Serra in Washington, D.C. on September 23 during his U.S. visit. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The ceremony will take place in the open space in front of the ... continue reading


'Faith must not be turned into power,' Pope Francis warns Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis, at mass in St. Martha's House, recalled that many people follow Jesus simply out of self-interest. This "spirit, which lies behind or beneath a varnish of Christianity leads people to live like pagans," he warned. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) ... continue reading


Oops! The Bible did not say that: 7 famous viral quotes people think came from the Bible Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Social media and the Internet has made it easier to share anything anywhere. Most of the time we spend in cyberspace, we see come across wonderful statements --- about life, love and other concerns. It assures us that we are not alone, we are going to beat every ... continue reading


The Experience of the Resurrected Christ: A Divine Dream Worth Dying For

Image of

By Deacon Frederick Bartels

The dream of God is a dream of unending, divine love. His only Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, sacrificed his human life for this Dream: the redemption of humankind and the gift of eternal life and perfect happiness. Heaven is the divine dream that is not but a dream, it ... continue reading


Pope Francis 'considering' visit to Cuba Watch

Image of A nun waves a Vatican flag while attending Mass with St John Paul II in Havana in 1998.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Pope Francis is said to be considering a trip to Cuba this coming September. The papal visit would tie into his visit to the United States. The gesture could lead to improving relations both between Cuba and the U.S. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican ... continue reading


All Living Faith News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 11:19-26
19 Those who had scattered because of the persecution ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 87:1-3, 4-5, 6-7
1 [Of the sons of Korah Psalm Song] With its ... Read More

Gospel, John 10:22-30
22 It was the time of the feast of Dedication in ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 28th, 2015 Image

St. Peter Chanel
April 28: In St. Peter Chanel, Priest and Martyr (Feast day - April 28) ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter