A Reflection for the Third Sunday of Advent: Christ at the Center of Your Family

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Family Praying Catholic Church

The love between husband and wife…is the foundation and soul of the community of marriage and the family.[1]

As the journey toward Bethlehem continues, we shift our focus to making Christ the center of our families. We began the journey by focusing on the importance of making Jesus the center of our lives. Last week, we discussed making Jesus the center of our marriages.

Pope St. John Paul II in his epic work Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), states that “the family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do…family, become what you are.”[2]

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A Reflection for the Second Sunday in Advent: Christ at the Center of Your Marriage

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Bride Groom Facing Cross_03

Advent is a journey toward Bethlehem to find the Christ child, to embrace Him, to make Him the Lord of every aspect of your life. Last week, we began the journey by focusing on the importance of encountering Jesus personally. This week, we will explore why it is important to make Jesus the center of your marriage. Next week, we’ll discuss making Christ the center of your family. We’ll conclude with the mission He has called you to carry out in your neighborhood and in the world.

Why put Christ at the center of your marriage?

In Lumen Fidei, Pope Francis explains that. “Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and understandings, a plan that sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love.”[1]

In other words, the more we put Jesus at the center of our lives and our marriages, the more completely we are able to give ourselves to our spouse.

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A Reflection for the First Sunday in Advent: Encountering Jesus

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Jesus Healing Blind Man_El Greco

Healing of the Man Born Blind, El Greco, c.1573

One thing I know, that though I was blind, now I see. John 9:25

In the account of Jesus healing the man born blind (see John 9), the blind man encounters Jesus and his life is forever changed. The Gospels are full of stories of people who encountered Jesus and had their lives turned upside down. Examples are Jesus Calling the First Disciples (Mt 18-22), The Call of Matthew (Mt 9:9), The Healing of Blind Bartimaeus (Mk 10:46-52), Jesus and Zacchaeus (Lk 19:1-10), Jesus and the Samaritan Woman (Jn 4:1-30), and The Conversion of Saul (Acts 9:1-22).

This Advent, we invite you on a journey toward Bethlehem where you will find the Christ child waiting for you to embrace Him. Along the way, you will discover the importance of encountering Jesus personally. You’ll also discover why it is important to make Jesus the center of your marriage and the center of your family. Finally, you’ll discover the mission He has called you to carry out in your neighborhood and the world.

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Solemnity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, King of the Universe

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I saw one like a Son of man coming, on the clouds of heaven; when he reached the Ancient One and was presented before him, the one like a Son of man received dominion, glory, and kingship; all peoples, nations, and languages serve him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion that shall not be taken away, his kingship shall not be destroyed. Daniel 7:13-14

On this the last Sunday of the Liturgical year, the Church celebrates the Feast of Christ the King. This feast was promulgated by Pope Pius XI in the jubilee year of 1925 in the encyclical letter Quas Primas. Pius XI saw the need for the Church to highlight the Kingship of Jesus Christ in a society that no longer honored or recognized the wisdom of the Church in governing herself.Pius stated that “as long as individuals and states refused to submit to the rule of our Savior, there would be no really hopeful prospect of a lasting peace among nations. Men must look for the peace of Christ in the Kingdom of Christ.[1]

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We Give Thanks

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Freedom-from-Want_Norman Rockwell

Freedom from Want by Norman Rockwell

Published in the March 6, 1943 issue of The Saturday Evening Post

The fourth Thursday of November in the United States is a day set aside to thank God for His many blessings on our nation. The first National Day of Thanksgiving was in 1789. Here is a portion of the text of the declaration signed by George Washington:

NOW THEREFORE, I do recommend and assign THURSDAY, the TWENTY-SIXTH DAY of NOVEMBER next, to be devoted by the people of these States to the service of that great and glorious Being who is the beneficent author of all the good that was, that is, or that will be; that we may then all unite in rendering unto Him our sincere and humble thanks for His kind care and protection of the people of this country.

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What is Marriage?

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Catholic Wedding_07

The affirmation of marriage and the family has long been a concern of the Church. It this day and time, there is much confusion as to what constitutes a marriage. Marriage is a divine institution. The Second Vatican Council stated “the intimate partnership of life and the love which constitutes the married state has been established by the Creator and endowed by him with its own proper laws…For God himself is the author of marriage.”[1]

The Code of Canon Law further defines this:

The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by its nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized.[2]

In this one sentence, the Church set up the charter for marriage. It is chock full of insights into what constitutes marriage. Let’s look deeper into this important text.

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Family: Be a Light in the Darkness

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Let Your Light Shine

This past week, the Archdiocese of Detroit launched an initiative called Unleash the Gospel Challenge. The six-day challenge is an opportunity to learn about the plan for the transformation of the Archdiocese into a “joyful band of missionary disciples.” (For more information about Unleash the Gospel, see our previous blog post Families: The center of evangelization efforts in the Archdiocese of Detroit.) It is hoped that those participating in the challenge will hear a personal invitation from God to encounter Jesus, grow as His disciples, and become witnesses to God’s everlasting mercy.

The family is the center of this initiative. Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron offered the following vision for families in his pastoral letter:

Families who, having embraced their role as the domestic church and in connection with other families and single persons, actively seek the spiritual and social renewal of their neighborhoods, schools and places of work. Such families and individuals would display a strikingly counter-cultural way of living: grounded in prayer, Sacraments and attention to Scripture; unusually gracious hospitality; a capacity to include those on the margins of society; and joyful confidence in the providence of God even in difficult and stressful times. Unleash the Gospel, p. 32

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says “the family home is rightly called ‘the domestic church,’ a community of grace and prayer, a school of human virtues and of Christian charity” (CCC, 1666). When your family is a school of virtue and Christian charity, people take notice. They will see that your family is different. They will be attracted to what you have.

St. John Paul II is his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World) had this to say about families:

The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason too it can and should be called “the domestic Church” (Lumen Gentium, 11). All members of the family, each according to his or her own gift, have the grace and responsibility of building, day by day, the communion of persons, making the family “a school of deeper humanity” (Gaudium et Spes, 52): this happens where there is care and love for the little ones, the sick, the aged; where there is mutual service every day; when there is a sharing of goods, of joys and of sorrows. Familiaris Consortio, 21

St. John Paul said the family is to be “a school of deeper humanity!” Life in our country is out of control. The daily news is replete with examples of how we have forgotten what it means to be human, to treat each other with dignity, love, and kindness. If we are to change the course of this nation, it is going to be done one family at a time, living out the Gospel in their families, neighborhoods and communities.

In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Vigneron charged families to reclaim their identity to God through the following action plan: attending Sunday Mass as a family, daily scripture reading, regular family meal times without distractions and family prayer time, frequent participation in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, modeling Christ’s love by helping neighbors in need, and for parents to be the primary witnesses of the faith to their family.

The well-being of the individual person and of both human and Christian society is closely bound up with the healthy state of conjugal and family life. Gaudium et Spes, 47

God is asking families to take to the lead in bringing the Gospel message to the world. Will you be the light in the darkness?

Prayer to Be a Light in the World

Lord, true light and source of all light, turn our thoughts to what is holy and may we ever live in the light of your love. Cast out from our hearts the darkness of sin and bring us to the light of your truth. Fill us with your holy light that we may be your witnesses before a world darkened by sin and death. Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in us the fire of your love and You shall renew the face of the earth. This we ask through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen

Families: Transform the World

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JPII Families Become What You Are

Preach the word, be urgent in season and out of season, convince, rebuke, and exhort, be unfailing in patience and in teaching…always be steady, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfil your ministry. 2 Timothy 4:2, 5

Do you see yourself as an evangelist, sharing the Gospel in the world so in need of God’s love and mercy? The Gospel is “good news,” that God became man in the person of His Son Jesus Christ, that he died for the forgiveness of our sins, reconciling us to the Father, and that He rose from the dead. Every baptized Christian is called to share this good news with the world.

This is especially important in the family. Parents have the primary responsibility of bringing their children up in the faith. The most important document to come out the Second Vatican Council speaks of this important role of husbands and wives…

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It Was Worth It!

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Broken Family_03

Are you suffering difficulties and strife in marriage, even separation and divorce? God can heal your broken relationship.

Rose and I (Dennis) were both widowed. Before the death of my first wife, Therese, I experienced God’s love, mercy, and forgiveness in healing after divorce.

By faith, in confidence, with perseverance and obedience to God, my marriage was saved from the pit of death. God is faithful. He never gives up on any of His children. Was the pain of my divorce worth it? Was standing eight years for the healing of my marriage worth it? Were the sorrow, pain and loneliness worth it? Was having my marriage restored only to have my wife die two short years later worth it? Yes, by the grace of God, it was worth it!

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Forgiveness and Healing in Marriage

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JPII Forgiveness

In our marriage coaching, we frequently see unforgiveness as a major obstacle for couples in achieving the intimate and fulfilling relationships that they deeply desire. Unforgiveness, bitterness, and anger towards your spouse poisons the relationship. We have heard it said that unforgiveness is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die. True healing can only take place when offenses are forgiven, and forgotten, never to be brought up again as a weapon against your spouse.

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