Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

12/29/2014 (8 months 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 (8 months 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'


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for July 2015
Universal:
That political responsibility may be lived at all levels as a high form of charity.
Evangelization: That, amid social inequalities, Latin American Christians may bear witness to love for the poor and contribute to a more fraternal society.



Comments


More Marriage & Family

Unusual book of prophetic warnings mysteriously appears at Philidelphia residents' doors Watch

Image of 'The Great Controversy' sent to 700,000 residents free-of-charge and unsolicited.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Costing them nothing, Philadelphia residents have received their own copies of "The Great Controversy," a Christian book analyzing the prophetic warnings of the Biblical end of times. The Christian book company was reportedly in ties with another company to print and ... continue reading


Viral video shows 5-year-old boy's heartwarming reaction to mother's pregnancy Watch

Image of

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A five-year-old boy living in Scunthorpe, UK expressed an adorable reaction when his mother, Sarah Bromby, told him he would be a big brother soon.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) -The Blaze reports that the enthusiastic little boy asked his mother, "Is ... continue reading


Adorable twin baby girls caught hilariously pretending to sleep when mother speaks over baby monitor Watch

Image of Both girls lie prone in attempt to fool their mother.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Video footage of adorable twin girls pretending to be asleep after hearing their mother made its rounds via social media, gaining nearly 14 million views since its initial Facebook upload. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The video shows twin baby girls Miya ... continue reading


5 ways to find happiness in life through the darkness Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Life has taught us that living is not easy. Even our great Bible heroes experienced struggles and suffered. With God's love, darkness is not endless; it is a part of life that makes us stronger and encourages us to live brighter lives.  MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES ... continue reading


Family of deceased teen claim she was 'screaming for help' from inside her tomb Watch

Image of

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

16-year-old Neysi Perez was buried earlier this month after suffering the effects of what her family believed was a demonic possession. After her burial, muffled cries for help could be heard from her grave site in the Honduras. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic ... continue reading


Body of a 25-year-old woman stolen from funeral home in San Antonio Watch

Image of Julie died peacefully on August 8 after a lifelong battle with cystic fibrosis.

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Julie Mott's body was reported stolen from her casket after her funeral service on Saturday and was discovered missing the following day. There were no signs of forced entry and it wasn't until the funeral home staff was preparing for her transfer to the crematorium ... continue reading


'WE MUST DO BETTER BY OUR DAUGHTERS': Georgian mother responds to how Anna Duggar handled husband, Josh Duggar's latest scandals Watch

Image of Mother with the viral Facebook post, Jessica Kirkland and her two daughters. [PHOTO BY: Jessica Kirkland/ Bethany Deschamps]

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Leaked information from the extramarital affairs website Ashley Madison put a spotlight on thousands of men who sought partners outside their marriages, celebrities included. Alarmed at the outdated view of a woman's roles in society, Jessica Krammes Kirkland posted a ... continue reading


6 wonderful inspiring tips for couples who want to pray together Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Award-winning author and founder of the Woman to Woman Mentoring and About His Work Ministries, Janet Thompson, now understands what to tell couples when seeing them pray. By experience with her husband Dave, Thompson finds it enlightening, rewarding and binding to ... continue reading


Nobel Peace Prize winner, Malala Yousafzai scores high in school - three years after being shot in head for standing up for education Watch

Image of Malala has overcome great obstacles.

By Hannah Marfil (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Malala Yousafzai was awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for her advocacy for girls' rights in Pakistan where she was shot in the head during a failed assassination by the Taliban. Yousafzai has shown her remarkable intelligence, aside from her courageousness, by achieving a ... continue reading


'This is a dangerous sign for America': Israeli author calls out Americans and urges repentance Watch

Image of

By Atarah Haely (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Jonathan Cahn, author of the book "The Harbinger," issued a video attempting to answer some questions and concerns about the end of the Shemitah year this Sept. 13. According to the WND report, the messianic Jewish rabbi explained that since he cannot answer all the ... 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, Jeremiah 1:17-19
17 'As for you, prepare yourself for action. Stand up ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15, 17
1 In you, Yahweh, I take refuge, I shall never be put ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 29th, 2015 Image

St. Sabina
August 29: St. Sabina's feast day is August 29th. We know St. Sabina only ... 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