Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Deacon Keith Fournier

4/11/2013 (1 year 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 (1 year 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'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for November 2014
Lonely people:
That all who suffer loneliness may experience the closeness of God and the support of others.
Mentors of seminarians and religious: That young seminarians and religious may have wise and well-formed mentors.



Comments


More U.S.

Catholic Shopping .com is about to have its biggest sale ever for Black Friday weekend!

Image of Sign up so you don't miss any deals during this special Black Friday weekend sale!

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

This weekend, Catholic Shopping .com is having an amazing sale with up to 70% off of selected items. These deep discounts will help you finish your shopping early, but be prepared, many of these sales will last just an hour or two and then the specials will be gone! ... continue reading


A Boston man has something new to be thankful for after he received a double arm transplant Watch

Image of Will Lautzenheiser, a professor of film production and screenwriting at Boston University had to undergo surgery to remove his arms and legs in 2011 after he came down with a life-threatening streptococcal infection.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Boston man who received a double arm transplant in October is making remarkable recovery, just in time for Thanksgiving. The best part, he says, is that he is able to hug his loved ones again. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Will Lautzenheiser became infected ... continue reading


Dreaded cartel overlord Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez sentenced to 22 years in prison in U.S. Watch

Image of Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Top Sinaloa cartel thug Alfredo Vasquez-Hernandez has been sentenced to 22 years in prison in the U.S. for planning the delivery of more than 600 pounds of cocaine. Some of the damning evidence against him was provided by twin brothers Pedro and Margarito ... continue reading


Here's 3,000 reasons why Obama just made illegal immigrants more attractive to your employer Watch

Image of Due to a loophole in Obamacare, the president's new amnesty plans mean that employers who hire illegals don't have to cover them with insurance, and won't be fined for doing so.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

President Obama's new amnesty plan is going to have some drastic effects that most American's aren't aware of, one that may just get you kicked out of a job because of all things, Obamacare. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Under the Affordable Care Act, ... continue reading


Fr. Randy Sly on Thanksgiving and Our Roots of Faith

Image of Ceremonies and periods of thanksgiving are woven through the entire tapestry of history. We find them in the Jewish Calendar of Feasts, in other world religions, in European cultures and native practices of North America, South America, Asia and Africa.

By Fr. Randy Sly

Thanksgiving Day has become a time when we watch parades and then take in large amounts of food and football. According to some calculations, 46 million turkeys-around 550 million pounds-will be consumed during Thanksgiving this year. But that's not how it began! ... continue reading


Thanksgiving Day: We are Still One Nation - Under God Watch

Image of The sincere sentiments expressed by this extraordinary leader, George Washington, should inform our response to all of the challenges we face today in the United States of America. We are still one Nation - under God. They should also inspire us to pray for great leaders to emerge in this our great hour of need. Leaders who can help us see this as an hour of opportunity and an invitation to reaffirm our reliance on God.

By Deacon Keith A Fournier

This week the people of the United States of America struggle to find a way through the trauma we are experiencing in the wake of the riots in Ferguson, Missouri. Too many self-appointed "experts" seem all too eager to tell us what divides us. However, even in ... continue reading


Acknowledging Unknown Soldier over known soldiers: Over 1.2 million veterans lack health insurance Watch

Image of As a culture, many of us feel more comfortable honoring the tomb of the Unknown Soldier --

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As many leave laurels at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the United States refuses to acknowledge the health and benefits of known soldiers. While most people assume that veterans automatically receive health care coverage through the Veterans Health ... continue reading


Ferguson in flames as policeman who shot, killed teenager found not guilty Watch

Image of Police claimed they came under heavy automatic weapon fire. Some buildings were left to burn because of the danger.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

People have responded to violence - with violence. After Police Officer Darren Wilson was been cleared of all charges in the shooting death of black teenager Michael Brown in August. His surrounding community of Ferguson, Missouri has responded with widespread ... continue reading


Priest in Ferguson reports deep mistrust between groups fueling tension Watch

Image of Police in Ferguson move detain a protester.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A Catholic priest assigned to Ferguson, MO, spoke with Vatican Radio about the "festering" mistrust between the populace and police. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Vatican Radio shared an interview with Fr. Arthur Cavitt, a parish priest who was asked about the ... continue reading


Guliani/ Dyson Debate: Racism is Sin. Legitimate Social Analysis and Questions are Not Watch

Image of Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and Georgetown Sociology Professor and media commentator Dr. Michael Eric Dyson

By Keith A. Fournier

I do not believe that the comments of the former Mayor of New York revealed racism or what the Professor of Sociology called "white supremacy". Rather, he raised matters concerning sociological statistics which need to be considered as we all seek to further the ... 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, Revelation 15:1-4
1 And I saw in heaven another sign, great and ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 7-8, 9
1 [Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 21:12-19
12 'But before all this happens, you will be seized ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for November 26th, 2014 Image

St. John Berchmans
November 26: Eldest son of a shoemaker, John was born at Diest, Brabant. He ... 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