Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis



Consilium Internationale
FAMILY COMMISSION

Jenny Harrington OFS 

 

 CONCLUSIONS OF THE SYNOD OF THE FAMILY 

PART II - The Family in God's plan
Chapter IV - Towards the Ecclesial Fullness of the Family 

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Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than "the family of God." From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers "together with all [their] household."cf Acts 18.8 When they were converted, they desired that "their whole household" should also be saved.cf Acts 16:31; Acts 11:14 These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world. (CCC 1655)


The Intimate Bond Between the Church and the Family (52)


The synod fathers remind us of the blessing and responsibility of a new family, sealed in the Sacrament of Matrimony, which involves the couple's willingness to be advocates and promoters, within the Christian community, of the basic covenant between a man and a woman. ... In virtue of the Sacrament of Matrimony, every family becomes, in effect a good for the Church.....


The Church is a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic churches. “In virtue of the sacrament of matrimony, every family becomes, in effect, a good for the Church. From this standpoint, reflecting on the interplay between the family and the Church will prove a precious gift for the Church in our time. The Church is good for the family, and the family is good for the Church. The safeguarding of the Lord’s gift in the sacrament of matrimony is a concern not only of individual families but of the entire Christian community”. Relatio Finalis 2015, 52 (AL 87)


In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica. (LG 11, FC 21) It is in the bosom of the family that parents are "by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation." (LG 11) (CCC 1656)


“With inner joy and deep comfort, the Church looks to the families who remain faithful to the teachings of the Gospel, encouraging them and thanking them for the testimony they offer. For they bear witness, in a credible way, to the beauty of marriage as indissoluble and perpetually faithful. Within the family ‘which could be called a domestic church’ (LG 11), individuals enter upon an ecclesial experience of communion among persons, which reflects, through grace, the mystery of the Holy Trinity. ‘ (AL 86)


It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way "by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity." (LG 10) Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and "a school for human enrichment."(GS 52.1) Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous - even repeated - forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life.. (CCC 1657)


The couple that loves and begets life is a true, living icon capable of revealing God the Creator and Saviour. For this reason, fruitful love becomes a symbol of God’s inner life (cf. Gen 1:28); (9:7; 17:2-5, 16; 28:3; 35:11; 48:3-4)..... the couple’s fruitful relationship becomes an image for understanding and describing the mystery of God himself, for in the Christian vision of the Trinity, God is contemplated as Father, Son and Spirit of love. The triune God is a communion of love, and the family is its living reflection. Saint John Paul II shed light on this when he said, “Our God in his deepest mystery is not solitude, but a family, for he has within himself fatherhood, sonship and the essence of the family, which is love. That love, in the divine family, is the Holy Spirit”. The family is thus not unrelated to God’s very being. This Trinitarian dimension finds expression in the theology of St Paul, who relates the couple to the “mystery” of the union of Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:21-33) (AL 11)


We see another aspect of the family. We know that the New Testament speaks of “churches that meet in homes” (cf. 1 Cor 16:19; Rom 16:5; Col 4:15; Philem 2). A family’s living space could turn into a domestic church, a setting for the Eucharist, the presence of Christ seated at its table. We can never forget the image found in the Book of Revelation, where the Lord says: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev 3:20). (AL 15)


The Grace of Conversion and Fulfilment (53 - 54)


The Church remains close to couples whose marital relationship has degenerated to the point of separation. In cases where a relationship painfully ends, the Church feels the duty to accompany the spouses in their period of suffering so their relationship does not lead to a serious conflict....


We must be grateful that most people do value family relationships that are permanent and marked by mutual respect. They appreciate the Church’s efforts to offer guidance and counselling in areas related to growth in love, overcoming conflict and raising children. Many are touched by the power of grace experienced in sacramental Reconciliation and in the Eucharist, grace that helps them face the challenges of marriage and the family......(AL 38). Marital problems are “often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. (AL 41).


"By reason of their state in life ... [Christian spouses] have their own special gifts in the People of God." (LG 11.2) This grace proper to the sacrament of Matrimony is intended to perfect the couple's love and to strengthen their indissoluble unity. By this grace they "help one another to attain holiness in their married life and in welcoming and educating their children." (LG 11.2, LG 41). (CCC 1641)


Christ is the source of this grace. "Just as of old God encountered his people with a covenant of love and fidelity, so our Savior, the spouse of the Church, now encounters Christian spouses through the sacrament of Matrimony." (GS 48.2) Christ dwells with them, gives them the strength to take up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another's burdens, to "be subject to one another out of reverence for Christ,"(1 Eph 5:21, cg Gal 6:2) and to love one another with supernatural, tender, and fruitful love. In the joys of their love and family life he gives them here on earth a foretaste of the wedding feast of the Lamb: (CCC 1642)


The experience of love in families is a perennial source of strength for the life of the Church. “The unitive end of marriage is a constant summons to make this love grow and deepen. Through their union in love, the couple experiences the beauty of fatherhood and motherhood, and shares plans, trials, expectations and concerns; they learn to care for one another and mutual forgiveness. In this love, they celebrate their happy moments and support each other in the difficult passages of their life together… The beauty of this mutual, gratuitous gift, the joy which comes from a life that is born and the loving care of all family members – from toddlers to seniors – are just a few of the fruits which make the response to the vocation of the family unique and irreplaceable”, both for the Church and for society as a whole. (Ibid., 49-50.) (AL 88)
For all a family’s problems, it can always grow, beginning with love”.


“Love is patient, love is kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7)


The love of friendship unifies all aspects of marital life and helps family members to grow constantly. This love must be freely and generously expressed in words and acts. In the family, “three words need to be used. I want to repeat this! Three words: ‘Please’, ‘Thank you’, ‘Sorry’. Three essential words!” Address to the Pilgrimage of Families during the Year of Faith (26 October 2013): AAS 105 (2013), 980 (AL 133)


Mercy: The Core of Revelation (55)

The Church starts from the real-life situations of today's families, all in need of mercy, beginning with those who suffer most. With the Merciful Heart of Jesus, the Church must draw near and guide the weakest of her members, who are experiencing a wounded or lost love, by restoring confidence and hope, as the beacon light of a port or a torch carried in the crowd, to illuminate those who have lost their way or find themselves in the midst of a storm. Mercy is “the core of the revelation of Jesus Christ” (MV, 25).


Christ proposed as the distinctive sign of his disciples the law of love and the gift of self for others (cf. Mt 22:39; Jn 13:34). He did so in stating a principle that fathers and mothers tend to embody in their own lives: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). Love also bears fruit in mercy and forgiveness. Marriage is “a gift” from the Lord (1 Cor 7:7). At the same time, precisely because of this positive understanding, the New Testament strongly emphasizes the need to safeguard God’s gift: “ (AL 61)


“Jesus, who reconciled all things in himself, restored marriage and the family to their original form (cf. Mt 10:1-12). Marriage and the family have been redeemed by Christ (cf. Eph 5:21-32) and restored in the image of the Holy Trinity, the mystery from which all true love flows. The spousal covenant, originating in creation and revealed in the history of salvation, takes on its full meaning in Christ and his Church. Through his Church, Christ bestows on marriage and the family the grace necessary to bear witness to the love of God and to live the life of communion. The Gospel of the family spans the history of the world, from the creation of man and woman in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:26-27), to the fulfilment of the mystery of the covenant in Christ at the end of time with the marriage of the Lamb (cf. Rev 19:9)”.(AL 63)


“The example of Jesus is a paradigm for the Church…. He began his public ministry with the miracle at the wedding feast of Cana (cf. Jn 2:1-11). He shared in everyday moments of friendship with the family of Lazarus and his sisters (cf. Lk 10:38) and with the family of Peter (cf. Mk 8:14). He sympathized with grieving parents and restored their children to life (cf. Mk 5:41; Lk 7:14-15). In this way he demonstrated the true meaning of mercy, which entails the restoration of the covenant (cf. John Paul II, Dives in Misericordia, 4). This is clear from his conversations with the Samaritan woman (cf. Jn 1:4-30) and with the woman found in adultery (cf. Jn 8:1-11), where the consciousness of sin is awakened by an encounter with Jesus’ gratuitous love”. (AL 64)


Questions for Discussion in your fraternities


1. Reflect and discuss how we as OFS , in particular husbands and wives, have borne witness to the world to the love of Christ for his Church.

2. With reference to Article 7 of OFS Rule, can we identify our human frailties which prevent that radical interior change, "Conversion", from taking place with ourselves, our spouses and families.

3. In what ways can we as OFS families contribute to society "Mercy , Forgiveness, and Peace"?


We finish our encounter praying together: the prayer of the Holy Family.


May 2017