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