Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron, family, Marriage, priorities, The Day of the Lord, Unleash the Gospel
For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. Matthew 6:21
What do you treasure most in your life? Your career, beautiful home, car, friendships, family, leisure time, possessions? To help you determine what you treasure most, look at your calendar. Where do you invest the greatest amount of time, energy, and finances?
Take a few moments to look at the figures below and honestly decide which one best represents the focus of your life.
Where do you see yourself, A, B, C or some other variation of these? Is Jesus just a part of the many things in your life or is He the center of everything you do? Scripture says “you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might” (Deut 6:5). God our creator wants to be first place in our lives.
So, what about all the other activities and people that comprise our lives? How do they stack up in the order of things? Let us first look at God’s ideal for ordering our lives and then compare this ideal to how we are actually living out our day-to-day lives.
- Everything else
Take a few minutes to reflect on the order of these priorities in your life? Pick your top three priorities; be honest!
And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God…You shall have no other gods before me” (Ex 20:1-3).
Next reflect on what things may be keeping you from God’s ideal order? Brainstorm some concrete actions you can take to get your life in order, in both the short and long term.
Finally, discuss with your spouse the things you can do as a couple to put God at the center of your marriage and to reorder your priorities to better align with God’s ideal.
Many families struggle with balancing these priorities in their lives. We have become a very busy culture, leaving little time for connecting with God and with those closest to us. Social media is a big culprit in the declining face-to-face time between family members. If we are not spending time with those closest to us in our families, how much time will we spend each day connecting with God, the source of life?
I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5
Jesus’ words are sobering. Apart from Him, all our efforts are futile. We need His grace to live our lives well in all of its aspects. Thankfully, God in His infinite wisdom has given us insight into how to grow closer to Him and our families. God created for six days and on the seventh day He rested. Sunday has become the day to catch up on all the things we didn’t accomplish during the work week. God and connecting with family are relegated to the bottom of our “To Do” list. And our relationships are worse for it.
“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work; but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work…for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.” Exodus 20:8-11
Archbishop Allen H. Vigneron of Detroit is his 2017 pastoral letter, Unleash the Gospel, charged families to reclaim their identity with God through the following action plan (Action Step 1.3 Christian Family Identity, p. 33):
- Attending Sunday Mass as a family
- Daily scripture reading
- Regular family meal times without distractions
- Regular family prayer time
- Frequent participation is the Sacrament of Reconciliation to heal wounds and brokenness through sacrifice, forgiveness, mercy, and love
- Modeling Christ’s love by helping neighbors in need
Think of ways you can incorporate these actions into your Sunday schedule. Start the day with Mass, inviting a single or widowed person to join you and your family. Have a time of sharing a meal together with your new friends and family. Focus your day on a time of prayer and studying the Sunday readings, discussing what you learned from the homily. Do something fun together as a family, putting away all electronic distractions. The more time you spend bonding with the Lord and your family, the more fruit will be produced in your lives and the lives of others.
Recently, Archbishop Vigneron issued a pastoral note titled The Day of the Lord, calling Catholics to set aside Sunday for rest and worship in recognition of Jesus Christ’s Resurrection, the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost Sunday, and the first “rest” of God after the work of creation.
“In our time, Sunday has slowly lost its pride of place,” Vigneron said in the pastoral note. “In the Archdiocese of Detroit, we are committed to setting aside this day as much as possible for God-centered pursuits” such as Mass, personal prayer and Bible studies as well as dedicated family time and activities centered on sharing faith with others.”
At the same time, the Archdiocese of Detroit instituted a new policy to cease youth sporting activities on Sundays, in a renewed effort to “reclaim Sunday” as one for worship, rest and family time. “In shifting away from the hustle of required sporting activities on Sunday, we will reclaim this holy day and create more time for families to choose activities that prioritize time spent with each other and our Lord,” Vigneron said in the pastoral note. “We look forward to abundant blessings as we seek to abide by our God’s teaching to keep holy the Lord’s Day.”
Clearly, this shepherd is moving to help his flock realign their priorities to better match God’s ideal order. When we align our priorities more in keeping with God’s plan for our lives, we will live more peacefully, fruitfully, and joyfully.