by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann
I just returned from our archdiocesan Marian pilgrimage.
One of the great graces of these days has been the opportunity to celebrate Mass at the site of two of the major Marian apparitions — Fatima and Lourdes. Another great blessing has been the chance daily to pray the rosary together with my fellow pilgrims.
With the extraordinary synod on the family coming to a close, I encourage every member of the archdiocese to pray for the Holy Spirit to guide the church in discerning how we can best support families to be communities where faith and love are nurtured and shared. In October 2015, there will be an ordinary Synod of Bishops that will also be devoted to the family. It will be the task of this 2015 synod, with the benefit of the insights gained from this year’s meeting, to propose ways in which the church can help to strengthen family life.
Of course, to build up family life necessarily means to identify ways to support married couples to live their vocation of heroic love. Vibrant Christian marriages result from a daily decision by husbands and wives to seek the good and happiness of their spouse over and above their own desires and pleasure.
If you want to renew and strengthen your marriage, I encourage you to make a “Living in Love” weekend retreat. The next one in the archdiocese is scheduled for Nov. 8-9 at Sacred Heart Parish in Shawnee. To learn more about “Living in Love” retreats and/or to register for the November retreat, contact our marriage and family life office at: email@example.com or call (913) 647-0329.
Christian marriage also requires a generosity in welcoming new life and being willing to embrace the incredible privilege and responsibility to be co-creators with God of a new human being. The church’s encouragement for married couples to be generous in their openness to children is quite countercultural.
If you find this teaching of the church difficult or confusing, I urge you to enjoy a date night by attending Dr. Laurie Heap’s “Prescription for a Long and Happy Life.”
I am confident that you will enjoy the evening and discover how knowing good science can help strengthen your relationship. Her next presentation is at St. Michael Parish in Leawood on Nov. 8. Please contact our marriage and family life office for more information or to register.
Christian parents are called literally to lose their own lives in giving life and being the first and most important teachers of their children of our Catholic faith. This year’s synod was devoted to reflecting on the family in the context of evangelization. Christian families are missionary in nature.
First of all, the family is the preferred tool that God has chosen to pass the faith from one generation to the next. Moreover, Christian families, where the faith is lived and celebrated, are inevitably filled with joy. Vibrant Catholic families have the ability to draw others to Jesus and his church.
Recently, I met a woman who became Catholic while she was in college. When I asked her why she became Catholic, she said it was because of a Catholic family that she knew from her childhood. She was good friends with one of the daughters. This woman was attracted to the church by the joy and love that she observed in this family. She had the opportunity to vacation with this family and was impressed with their fidelity to participating in Mass every Sunday and their custom of praying the rosary every evening.
From Sept. 22-25, 2015, Philadelphia will host the World Meeting of Families. This world gathering of families is convened by the Catholic Church every three to four years. Participants will have a chance to experience inspiring liturgies and hear some world-renowned speakers on marriage and family life. There are strong indications that Pope Francis will come for a closing Mass. For more information, contact our archdiocesan marriage and family life office at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Finally, I encourage families to make a special commitment to pray the rosary together as frequently as possible during the coming year. Pray the rosary for your own family. Through the rosary, we can approach Jesus with Mary, asking him to provide the necessary graces for the bonds of faith and love uniting our families to grow even stronger. Pray also for a renewal of marriage and family life within the entire church.
The family is the foundation of culture, society, the nation and the church. Everything is built upon the health of the family. Strong and loving marriages result in healthy and vibrant families. Whether we are married or not, we all have a stake in strong marriages and healthy families. For those of us who are not married, we also should pray the rosary daily, asking God’s blessing upon married couples and families. We can invite Our Lord to reveal to us how we can be more supportive of married couples and parents in their vocations.
In truth, fostering strong families is the most important single thing that we can do to renew our culture and transform our society. As St. John Paul II stated on more than one occasion, as the family goes, so goes the nation.