Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/11/2013 (2 years ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

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 become reality for those who are baptized into Christ Jesus

Marriage in Christ is a Mystery, meant to be lived, a model, meant to be imitated, and a mission, that needs to find its fullness. That will require a conversion, a new way of thinking, assisted by a new catechesis. Nothing less will suffice as we face the decline of western culture. When this occurs, the Church will have a great resource in her work of the New Evangelization. The domestic church can become a frontline participant in the missionary work of the Third Millennium. What the Catholic Church teaches about Christian marriage is the liberating message for this age, as it is for every age, precisely because it presents the mystery of eternity made manifest in the here and now.

The domestic church of the family

The domestic church of the family

Highlights

By Deacon Keith Fournier

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

4/11/2013 (2 years ago)

Published in U.S.

Keywords: marriage, family, Christian marriage, holiness, domestic church, new evangelization, Catholic marriage, 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 37 years, Laurine. Down the hall slept our grandson. His Mom is in the room next door. Around the corner is our youngest son's room, just in case he decides to come home this summer. He has left home and moved back home now several times now as he seeks to find his own way. 

Our other children and grandchildren may be spread around the Nation but they are always in our heart. Through our Baptism our natural bond has been supernaturally raised. Jesus said "Wherever two or three are gathered in my Name, there I am in their midst." (Matt. 18:20) The place where that happens most often is in the Christian family.

From antiquity the Christian Family has been called the domestic church. This is more than piety, it is to become reality, by grace. 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 fundamentally a relational reality. 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, do we view the vocation to Christian marriage and family 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 their concept of "the world" or perhaps it is seen as a part of a "duty in the Lord" which often competes with the perception of what is meant by Christian ministry and 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 and is meant to become 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 five children, and now trying to help 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 Jesus Christ. It is here, where the "rubber hits the road" for most Christians. It is here that the universal call to holiness is lived out. Here, with all of its humanness and ordinariness is found the path to sanctity for those called into it. 

I have lived the vocation of Marriage in Christ for thirty seven years. And, I know that it is just that - a vocation - a call to follow the Lord in a specific way and, in so doing, to grow in holiness, participate in the very life of God and in the continuing mission of Jesus Christ as He walks it out through His Body, the Church, of which the domestic Church of the Christian family is a cell.

Here, in the real nitty gritty stuff of everyday life, embraced in love, is where true progress in the spiritual life can find its raw material. The question really becomes whether we who are called to live Christian marriage and family as a vocation actually 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 also 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, our spouse. 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.

In his letter to the Ephesians, particularly in its fifth chapter, St. Paul gives us the Magnus Opus of Christian Marriage. The profundity of its insights cannot be overstated. It is no surprise that this letter is increasingly controversial in this narcissistic age. However, it is not just theologians who need to explain the depth of its meaning and message. This task will require the stalwart and prophetic witness of Christian married couples who are genuinely converted and living out this vision of Christian marriage and family.

Marriage in Christ is a Mystery, meant to be lived, a model, meant to be imitated, and a mission, that needs to find its fullness. That will require a conversion, a new way of thinking, assisted by a new catechesis. Nothing less will suffice as we face the decline of western culture.

When this occurs, the Church will have a great resource in her work of the New Evangelization. The domestic church can become a frontline participant in the missionary work of the Third Millennium. What the Catholic Church teaches about Christian marriage is the liberating message for this age, as it is for every age, precisely because it presents the mystery of eternity made manifest in the here and now.

I woke up in Church this morning.  Echoing in my heart were these words of the Apostle Paul: "But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way." (1Cor. 12:31) For the Christian, marriage family life is a calling and a vocation; an invitation into this more excellent way, the way of love. It becomes the path to holiness for all who walk by living faith. In an age of infidelity, it is a prophetic sign of the faithful love of Jesus Christ for all men and women. 

---


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


Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for June 2015
Universal:
That immigrants and refugees may find welcome and respect in the countries to which they come.
Evangelization: That the personal encounter with Jesus may arouse in many young people the desire to offer their own lives in priesthood or consecrated life.


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


Comments


More U.S.

Catholic Church in U.S. has weathered adversity before - and will emerge triumphant, historian says Watch

Image of As bishops warn of current threats to religious liberty in the United States, Catholics can take heart that such challenges have faced them before, and they have persevered, one Church historian says.

By Matt Hadro, CNA/EWTN News

As bishops warn of current threats to religious liberty in the United States, Catholics can take heart that such challenges have faced them before, and they have persevered, one Church historian says. Washington D.C. (CNA/EWTN News) - "It's okay to realize that ... continue reading


After same-sex unions legalized, polygamous Montana trio demands same Watch

Image of The 46-year-old Nathan Collier owns a refrigeration business in Billings. He married 40-year-old Victoria in 2000. His second wife, Christine, was wed in a religious wedding ceremony in 2007 without a marriage license in order to avoid bigamy charges.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It was bound to happen. After the Supreme Court ruled same-sex unions legal in all 50 states, other proponents of non-traditional arrangements are clamoring for equality under the law. Nathan Collier, along with his wives Victoria and Christine have applied at ... continue reading


350-pound dolphin accidentally lands on cruise ship severely injuring woman Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

To kick off the summer break and celebrate Father's day, a family went aboard a cruise that ended with a traumatizing accident. As the cruise started to sail back to the harbor, a group of dolphins started to swim alongside the boat. However, as the passengers started ... continue reading


Episcopalians overwhelmingly vote to let same-sex weddings in churches Watch

Image of Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly this week to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Episcopalians voted overwhelmingly this week to allow religious weddings for same-sex couples. The Episcopal Church has long been on the forefront of equal rights for homosexuals, ever since electing it first openly gay bishop 10 years ago.  LOS ANGELES, ... continue reading


TERROR LEAK: ISIS learns of FBI command centers across U.S. for Fourth of July Watch

Image of One such likely ISIS candidate, 23-year-old Alaa Saadeh, was believed to be part of a group interested in detonating a pressure cooker bomb at a New York landmark.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

It appears that an important bit of counter-terrorism may have landed into the wrong hands. The Federal Bureau of Investigation, or FBI is installing command centers around the nation to prepare for possible terror attacks for the coming Fourth of July holiday ... continue reading


Remaining U.S. troops in Afghanistan 'feel forgotten' Watch

Image of Several US Troops felt abandoned and forgotten by the US government

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A total of 10,000 American troops remain in Afghanistan. These troops believe they have been forgotten by the Obama administration, as the US Government shifts its attention to ISIS. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - The US Troops, 10,000 men and women left ... continue reading


Risk for massive earthquake in California increases as scientists find dangerous helium coming from fault zone Watch

Image of

By Talia Ramos (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Researchers recently discovered helium leaking from a giant fault in the Earth's crust near Los Angeles, as well as discovering an increase in chance for California to have an 8.0 magnitude earthquake. MUNTINLUPA, PHILIPPINES (Catholic Online) - They did not expect the ... continue reading


United States prepares for Fourth of July amidst threat of ISIS attacks Watch

Image of The U.S. Government prepares for possible terrorist attacks this coming Independence Day celebration in the U.S.

By Linky C. (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Three days before the United States' Independence Day, the FBI has already began setting up command centers in all of the 56 field offices across the country prior to the fourth. The U.S. Government is preparing for possible terrorist attacks and terrorist threats that ... continue reading


America's MOST and LEAST patriotic states in 2015 Watch

Image of Virginia [not pictured] has been named the most patriotic state.

By Nikky Andres (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A recent American pride survey, published on June 29, 2015, revealed Virginia to be at the top of the current list of the most patriotic states in the USA. WalletHub, a consumer website, evaluated the military and civic engagement of all 50 states, included in the ... continue reading


The Martyrdom of the Apostles Peter and Paul Invites Us Into a New Missionary Age Watch

Image of On this great Feast we need to rededicate ourselves to being true witnesses, with an adult faith, willing to participate fully in this new missionary age of the Catholic Church. May the blood of the Martyrs continue to be the seed of the Church. St. Peter and St. Paul, pray for us!

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

Since at least the Third Century, Christians have commemorated this day as a Solemnity, the day when the two pillars of the Church, the great Apostles, Peter and Paul, met the Lord whom they served with such beauty, face to face in the communion of eternal love. ... continue reading


All U.S. News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

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

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Genesis 22:1-19
1 It happened some time later that God put Abraham to ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 115:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 8-9
1 Not to us, Yahweh, not to us, but to your name give ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 9:1-8
1 He got back in the boat, crossed the water and came ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for July 2nd, 2015 Image

St. Bernardino Realino
July 2: St. Bernardino Realino was born into a noble family of Capri, ... 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