Did you know that the family is the Center of the New Evangelization? St. John Paul II in his epic Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World), had this to say about the mission of the family:
…the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love…we must say that the essence and role of the family are in the final analysis specified by love…the family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a living reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride[i]
Is your family revealing and communicating love to a world that has forgotten the true meaning of the word? In a society that celebrates the self and using others for one’s own personal gain and satisfaction, there is a great need for holy families to witness to the true meaning of love.
Further on in Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II lays out the task of every Christian family:
To the extent in which the Christian family accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, it becomes an evangelizing community…“The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part” (Evangelii Nuntiandi, 71)[ii]
In the document Marriage and Family: The Home of the New Evangelization, the Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, offers some tips on how the family can live out this mission:
- Pray daily (individually and as a family).
- Read Scripture. Children love to hear the stories of the Bible.
- Regularly celebrate the sacraments, especially in Sunday Mass each week as a family.
- Trust in the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit gives married couples the grace you need to share your faith with your children and others in the community.
- Study the faith through the Catechism of the Catholic Church and faith formation programs. Discuss the faith over dinner.
- Participate in service opportunities as a family.
- Personally invite your family, friends, and neighbors to your home and to Sunday Mass in a welcoming spirit.
- Being willing to listen to other peoples’ stories and questions about the Church without judgment.
- Welcome new members of the parish, offer to help new parents, support the divorced and widowed.
- Remember the words of Peter: “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope” (1 Pt 3:15).[iii]
The family has a critical role to play in communicating love and hope to a world darkened by sin. Pope Paul VI stressed this critical role by saying, “The well-being of the individual person and of human and Christian society is intimately linked with the healthy condition of that community produced by marriage and family.”[iv]
Through the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, God provides husbands and wives with the grace to live out their vocation of marriage faithfully and joyfully. May God bless your family so that you in turn may be a blessing to those in most need of God’s mercy.
[i] John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation, Familiaris Consortio, §17, November 22, 1982; http://www.vatican.va/holy_father/john_paul_ii/apost_exhortations/documents/hf_jp-ii_exh_19811122_familiaris-consortio_en.html (accessed June 24, 2016).
[ii] Ibid., 52.
[iii] USCCB, Marriage and Family: The Home of the New Evangelization, http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/how-we-teach/new-evangelization/toolkit/marriage-family-home-new-evangelization.cfm (accessed June 24, 2016).
[iv] Paul VI, Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Gaudium et Spes, §47, December 7, 1965; http://www.vatican.va/archive/hist_councils/ii_vatican_council/documents/vat-ii_const_19651207_gaudium-et-spes_en.html (accessed June 24, 2016).