Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/29/2014 (1 month 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 month 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for January 2015
General Intention:
That those from diverse religious traditions and all people of good will may work together for peace.
Missionary Intention: That in this year dedicated to consecrated life, religious men and women may rediscover the joy of following Christ and strive to serve the poor with zeal.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Heartwarming footage of selfless man risking his own life to save a stranded dog restores faith in humanity Watch

Image of Hearts stop as the fate of the dog and rescuer become unclear. Will they make it back up the bridge?

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Stranded on a small island on a Nisava River in Serbia, a helpless dog hides in dead bushes accepting his fate. A group of caring friends notice the dog, and set up a mission to rescue the abandoned dog. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "On my way home I met a few ... continue reading


Caught on tape: Hilarious standoff between father and toddler daughter goes viral Watch

Image of

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Parenting a toddler can be quite a difficult task. They're stubborn, sassy and are developing a personality of their own. Gareth Roe, an Irish father, knows firsthand how complicated toddlers can be after experiencing a humorous argument with his 15-month-old daughter, ... continue reading


Undeniably cute rendition of classic children's song is sure to put a smile on your face Watch

Image of Josie sings an adorable song to her father.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In the midst of war, terror and disease, it's important to take the time to smile and remember that some of the world is good. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - An adorable toddler melts hearts with her spunky rendition of classic children's song "Old McDonald." ... continue reading


Mother of quadruplets tragically dies without ever seeing her four miracles Watch

Image of Erica Morales, 36-years-old, tragically passed away hours after giving birth to quadruplets.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Just hours after giving birth to quadruplets, Arizona mother, Erica Morales, died. "She never got to hold them, she never got to see them," cried Morales' cousin, Nicole Todman to Fox10. "It is so hard to know she fought so hard for her children. She will never get to ... continue reading


Archbishop of San Francisco warns of coming war on marriage Watch

Image of The Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, warned of a growing war on the

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

On January 16, the Archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, warned of a growing war on the "essential meaning of marriage," as defining "a bond which unites a man and a woman to each other and to any children who come from their union." LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


One... two... three babies?! New mother gets shocking surprise in ultrasound Watch

Image of Boe, Mika and Hope love to cuddle. (Magic Moments SWNS.com)

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Imagine hoping for one child, and being told you're pregnant with triplets; this was the case for British mother of now four, Melanie Thornton. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Melanie had a happy life with just her 13-year-old daughter and husband. Her husband, ... continue reading


Do you know what your kids are putting online? Here are 30 text acronyms that your teen DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW Watch

Image of Teens have an entire code for keeping parents clueless about their activities.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

In this new age of easy, fast and discrete communication the English language has rapidly evolved in a way that may leave many older people at a loss. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Acronyms rule the digital airwaves, being all important in the world of ... continue reading


14 years later: Extreme and horrific child abuse victim, Lauren Kavanaugh, thrives Watch

Image of Lauren Kavanaugh, now 21-years-old, attends college and plans on becoming a counselor to help those going through similar situations as hers.

By Abigail James (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Routinely raped and tortured, Lauren Kavanaugh was forced to live in a 4ft by 9ft closet for five years of her life until she was rescued in 2001. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Now 21-years-old, Lauren lives the "normal" life of a college student aspiring to make ... continue reading


Should marriage be defined by the legal system? The Supreme Court may aim to change the textbook definition of marriage Watch

Image of The U.S. Supreme Court may decide on same-sex marriage, as early as June of this year.

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

What is the definitive definition of marriage? Is it only a union before God between men and women, or is it extended to same-sex couples as well? This is a question that may be legally decided by the Supreme Court, which is set to decide soon if it will take up ... continue reading


The Reality of Marriage: The Lifelong Union of One Man and One Woman Watch

Image of

By Deacon Frederick K. Bartels

Marriage is a unique reality. There is no possibility of redefining it, shaping it in a new and essentially different way, or altering its nature, since marriage is authored by God and woven into the fabric of human life. The reality of marriage is the permanent union ... continue reading


All Marriage & Family News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 10:19-25
19 We have then, brothers, complete confidence ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
1 [Psalm Of David] To Yahweh belong the earth and all ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 4:21-25
21 He also said to them, 'Is a lamp brought in to be ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for January 29th, 2015 Image

Sts. Sarbelius & Barbea
January 29: Two martyrs, brother and sister, who were put to death at Edessa ... 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