Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/29/2014 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Will we allow the Lord to give us 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?

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 38 years, Laurine. Our five grown children are now out of the home, but they are still a part of our community. One will soon be moving home again as he sorts out his future. Christian parenting never ends. It is a vocation from which there is no vacation. From antiquity the Christian Family has been called the domestic church. Perhaps the most 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, Acts 11:26) in the fourth century.

A Fournier family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina several years ago

A Fournier family vacation in the Outer Banks of North Carolina several years ago

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

12/29/2014 (1 year ago)

Published in Marriage & Family

Keywords: marriage, Family, domestic church, ascesis, holiness, piety, ecclesiology, sacrament of marriage, vocation, Deacon Keith Fournier


CHESAPEAKE, VA (Catholic Online) - 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 38 years, Laurine. Our five grown children are now out of the home, but they are still a part of our community. One will soon be moving home again as he sorts out his future. Christian parenting never ends. It is a vocation from which there is no vacation.

From antiquity the Christian Family has been called "the domestic church." Perhaps the most 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, Acts 11:26) in the fourth century.

After all, the church is fundamentally a relational reality, "when two or three are gathered in my name, there I am in their midst." 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 very Life of the Trinity!

It is also a source of grace for the spouses, calling them to holiness by teaching them the path of selfless love. As the Apostle Peter wrote to the early Christians, we are "partakers of the divine nature." (2 Peter 1)

We were baptized into the Lord Jesus Christ 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, and is meant to be experienced as reality for those who are baptized into Christ Jesus.

For those called to live their Christian life in a consecrated Christian marriage, it is in the domestic church where progress in the spiritual life finds its raw material. The question we face every day becomes whether we live Christian marriage and family as a vocation by responding to grace.

Will we allow the Lord to give us 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 a profoundly important Christological passage in the letter to the Philippians 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 beating 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 also a "domestic ascesis", a way of living an ascetical life, when we embrace the real struggles involved in living this out way of life as a vocation in Christ. That is experienced through the real sacrificial love involved in raising children, having our hearts broken, and simply going through all of the travail involved in parenting - which never ends.

In fact, parenting unfolds into grand-parenting. When lived vocationally in the Lord Jesus Christ, it is a way of love, a way of sacrifice and giving, and love can sometimes hurt.

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, whom we read about in the Gospel. (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) - 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.

It is an invitation to learn the more excellent way of love of which the Apostle Paul writes to the Corinthians. (1 Cor. 12:331) It is a call, a vocation, to holiness. 

When the right choices are made in this life of "domestic kenosis", we exercise our human freedom, empowered by grace, and 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 participate in His Kenosis, his voluntary self - emptying.

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.

Two trees often appear in the garden of domestic life. They both invite the exercise of our human freedom, our decision to choose. There is one which resembles 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 centered-ness whenever we seek to hide from the call and refuse to love, by emptying ourselves "kenotically"

Then, there is the one that resembles and actually participates in the tree on Calvary, where Christ the New Adam embraced the whole world and began it anew.

There, 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, "Love Incarnate", and again proclaimed her "Fiat", her voluntary "yes."

In doing so, Mary 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 to say "Yes" 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.

We are invited to live Christian family life as a domestic church. We are also given the grace to do so. The choice is ours.

-----
Deacon Keith A. Fournier is Founder and Chairman of Common Good Foundation and Common Good Alliance. A married Roman Catholic Deacon of the Diocese of Richmond, Virginia, he and his wife Laurine have five grown children and six grandchildren, He serves as the Director of Adult Faith Formation at St. Stephen, Martyr Parish in Chesapeake, VA. He is also a human rights lawyer and public policy advocate who served as the first and founding Executive Director of the American Center for Law and Justice in the nineteen nineties. He has long been active at the intersection of faith and culture and currently serves as Special Counsel to Liberty Counsel. He is also the Editor in Chief of Catholic Online.

---


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


Copyright 2016 - Distributed by THE CALIFORNIA NETWORK

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2016
Universal:
Human Solidarity: That the aged, marginalized, and those who have no one may find-even within the huge cities of the world-opportunities for encounter and solidarity.
Evangelization: Seminarians and Novices: That seminarians and men and women entering religious life may have mentors who live the joy of the Gospel and prepare them wisely for their mission.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

'Thank you Nintendo!!!': Pokemon GO helps autistic child overcome obstacles Watch

Image of Ralph Koppelman has broken the chains of Autism with help from Pokémon GO (@the_cheeky_chipmunk/Twitter).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Excited mother takes to social media after her 6-year-old son, Ralph, who suffers hyperlexia and autism, overcomes problems with help from Pokémon GO. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "Hyperlexia," Ralph's father Steve Koppelman explained, "is an unusually early ... continue reading


12 powerful Bible verses you need to strengthen your marriage Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Marriage is one of the greatest loves of life. It is one of the most powerful connections a man and woman can experience. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - No matter how wonderful a marriage starts out, there are times when the couple will find it may become a ... continue reading


'Miracle Jane Doe': 9-year-old Guardian Angel saves life of abandoned newborn Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Nine-year-old Elysia Laub is being called a "guardian angel" after discovering a newborn baby lying in her backyard and ultimately saving the baby's life. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "I knew it was alive and I knew we had something. I could not second guess ... continue reading


New documentary 'HUSH' talks the ugly truth about abortions Watch

Image of The documentary

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

"HUSH" was created and directed by one pro-life, one pro-abortion and one neutral filmmaker team to provide the closest thing to an honest, non-biased documentary of the effects abortion has on women. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The largest issue, aside from ... continue reading


'Our Lady has already crushed his head': Our Lady of Fatima visionary predicted marriage and family 'final battle' Watch

Image of Our Lady of Fatima 'final battle' prediction (YouTube).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Sister Lucia dos Santos, one of the three children who witnessed the Marian apparitions at Fatima, died in 2005. But before her death, she predicted that the final battle between Christ and Satan would be over marriage and the family. Mexico City, Mexico (CNA/EWTN ... continue reading


'We are all children of God': Bishops calls for healing in Dallas Watch

Image of Prayers for Dallas, Texas (NorthEscambia).

By (CNA/EWTN News)

Amid tensions following two high profile police shootings of African-Americans and the subsequent killing of police in Dallas, Catholic bishops have called on Christians to be a force for healing and compassion in response to hatred and inhumanity. Dallas, Texas ... continue reading


'I heard screaming': WATCH terrifying moment man attempts to snatch 4-year-old girl from mother's side Watch

Image of Mother holds children close after attempted kidnapping (CCTV screenshot).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A 4-year-old girl was dragged from a Victorville cellphone store just feet from where her mother stood. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - As seen in the CCTV video, the child was playing with something on the wall near the store door.Her mother stood in line with an ... continue reading


Fourth of July panic: Teen loses leg and fingers in homemade fireworks 'bomb' (WARNING: GRAPHIC IMAGES) Watch

Image of Rowdy Radford's homemade fireworks

By Monique Crawford (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

A Texas teen tied 180 sparkler fireworks together with electric tape to create a "bomb" in celebration of Independence Day. Unfortunately for the boy, things didn't go as planned. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - While other kids enjoyed the firework displays, ... continue reading


'It was just a baby': Disturbing moment mother 'felt nothing' for unborn son Watch

Image of Mother sees ultrasound of her son and was left untouched (Heather Neal).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Heather Neal described herself as a "horrible mother and human being" when she felt a clear disconnect from the child growing in her womb. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Neal, who is a sports dietitian and blogger, revealed her feelings for Kabes, her first born ... continue reading


'I love you and I am crying so hard grandma': Woman honors grandmother Watch

Image of Granddaughter cares for elderly grandmother who can niether stand nor walk (Jen Ampler/Facebook).

By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)

Jen Ampler lives in Manila, the capital city of the Philippines. She took then posted images of herself and her grandmother to Facebook, touching the hearts of thousands. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Ampler went to visit her grandmother and realized the ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Subscribe to Catholic OnlineYouTube Channel

the FEED
by Catholic Online

  • PLEASE PRAY! Catholic priest savagely beheaded by ISIS terrorists ...
  • St. Pantaleon: Saint of the Day for Wednesday, July 27, 2016
  • Pope Francis 'implores God's peace for the world' after horrific ...
  • I am Ready for Love HD Video
  • Prayer for a Blessing on the New Year HD Video
  • Pokemon Go player with CCW halts attempted robbery
  • Daily Readings for Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Sirach 44:1, 10-15
1 Next let us praise illustrious men, our ancestors in their successive ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 132:11, 13-14, 17-18
11 Yahweh has sworn to David, and will always remain true to his word, 'I ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 13:16-17
16 'But blessed are your eyes because they see, your ears because they ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 26th, 2016 Image

Sts. Joachim and Anne
July 26: Saints Joaquin (sometimes spelled "Joachim," ... Read More