Wow, the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI addresses the family and the need for parishes to help families grow in their faith.
My friends, see where we are today. There is no mistake. This message from the Holy Father is just days after Our Lady spoke to the world stating that she is praying that we comprehend that we are God’s family. Above all, the universal Church, the parish families, and the domestic church are all united in the same Jesus Christ.
Below are the words of the Holy Father posted on 1/9/2011….
“The collaboration between the Christian community and the family is much needed in the current social context in which the institution of the family is threatened from many sides and finds itself faced with many difficulties in its mission to teach the faith,” he said. “The disappearance of stable cultural references and the rapid transformation that society continually undergoes, make the educational task truly difficult.
“Therefore, it is necessary that parishes increasingly strive to support families, the little domestic Churches, in their work of passing on the faith.” (Zenit News Source-1/9/2011)
Families must be formed anew in their faith. It is like a generation lost in the faith because there has been little or no formation in the homes. And yet I have already said, that Our Lady has spoken several times of the severity and the seriousness of the responsibility of parents to raise their children under the precepts of God.
Parishes should seek new ways to awaken the faith for their families. To find ways to draw couples and their children, deeper into heart to heart union with God.
Families must pray together, especially the rosary, to begin stirring up those sacramental graces that was gifted to husband and wife on their wedding day. The graces are there my friends. But they are dormant, because husbands and wives do not know their own faith, to hand it down to their children.
This is where the parish needs to step in and provide those opportunities. It is not enough to just to have topical speakers come in; more is needed. Parents need solid food, hard core solid Catholic formation. It is an urgency!
And I know most of you agree with me, because I talk with parents all the time about it. The kids are not getting the formation needed in the Catholic Schools and certainly not in public schools, because it is against the law so to say to mention the name of God. Many children in the Catholic Schools do not even believe there is a God.
Jesus is like Santa Claus to children, and of course as they get older, it is not cool to believe in Santa, so why would they believe in Jesus? There is no relationship!
We’ve developed a program called Holy Family Workshop to help awaken the hearts of couples, first to understand their own marriage sacrament, and then the importance of bringing the grace of their marital love in the home to their children. This formation teaches couples to pray together as husband and wife with listening ears, surrendering to the other, to help build the foundation of faith in Jesus Christ.
So many couples are just going through the motions, of attending mass, praying in church, thinking they are meeting their obligation with God, and then leave the holy Mass only to return to their same old routines. They have no concept of why they must go to mass on Sunday, nor do they see the value of holy Mass. It is routine to most, and the life of the spirit is all but lost in most parishes. Couples have no idea that the modern lifestyle in the world is opposed to God’s plan for the human family.
The Mother of God said very clearly to the world, “parents are teaching their children the wrong way…the youth are in a very difficult situation.”
Folks, this is heaven saying “we have it all wrong.”
We need to return back to the basics, the original foundation as I have said. God must be in the first place at the center of the family once more. Career cannot come first, sports cannot come first, vacations cannot come first. God must be priority! Your vocation is of second importance, then your children, then the rest to follow. We are a disordered culture.
The Holy Family is the first model to study as the perfect human family, as was given in the former articles related to the call of Fatima. Their simple, silent and hidden life speaks volumes to the world and the call to the human family.
And now we have the Vicar of Christ Himself, the official voice of God speaking to the world, calling parishes to help the families! Yes dear friends, the time is now, to start forming families with the proper tools needed to live out the vocation that about 90% of the church’s population consists of.
As I have said, Blessed Mother is rolling up her sleeves, and about to do some serious house cleaning and rearranging the Palace of God. First the interior temple must be set right, and stripped of sin. Then it must be lived out in every day life, especially in the homes where you live.
May I also echo the words of the great encyclical of our modern time, Humanae Vitae, and its call to “Christian Husband and Wives. Pp 25” The document says….
“Christian married couples then docile to her voice [that is the voice of the Church] must remember that their Christian vocation, which began at baptism, is further specified and reinforced by the sacrament of matrimony. By it husband and wife are strengthened and as it were consecrated for the faithful accomplishment of their proper duties, for the carrying out of their proper vocation even to perfection and the Christian witness which is proper to them before the whole world. To them the Lord entrusts the task of making visible to men the holiness and sweetness of the law which unites the mutual love of husband and wife with their cooperation with the love of God, the author of human life.
We do not intend to hide at all the sometimes serious difficulties inherent in the life of Christian married persons, for them as for everyone else, ‘the gate is narrow and they way is hard, that leads to life. But the hope of that life must illuminate their way as with courage they strove to live with wisdom, justice and piety in this present time, knowing that the figure of this world passes away.
Let married couples then face up to the efforts needed supported by the faith and hope which ‘do not disappoint … because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Let them implore divine assistance by persevering prayer, above all let them draw from the source of grace and charity in the Eucharist. And if sin should still keep its hold over them, let the not be discouraged, but rather have recourse with humble perseverance to the mercy of God, which is poured the fullness of conjugal life described by the Apostle; ‘husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church … husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it as Christ does the Church, this is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church. However let each on of you love his wife as himself and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
Let us look at this a little closer. The encyclical states here paragraph 25 the power of the sacrament of holy matrimony, husbands and wives receive a special grace that strengthens not only the marriage union, but also strengthens them to live out their proper vocation as witnesses in the world.
God entrusts husbands and wives; a man and a woman who live under the law of obedience to the covenant they joined and professed by a vow in the presence of God to make visible the sign of His divine love in their cooperation with grace. That is couples must bring to life that which had been given to them as gift and use the gift for the greater glory of God. Most couples are not fulfilling their vow to this order. I warn couples though, God does not forget the vow. It is sealed in the blood covenant of Jesus Christ that was offered during your mass at your marriage.
If a marriage; or a man and a woman who are joined in marriage as one, do not have Jesus Christ as the golden thread between them, who is the true foundation of faith, then the once tied knot of love will become unraveled, and the rope of love will become frayed and fall apart; hence the division and the sins of marriage creep in, and the weakening of nature of man’s humanity will succumb to great temptations which will jeopardize the marriage union.
It is not easy for anyone to vow their lives to another for life, and many couples enter into this union blind without knowledge of the great responsibility set before them in the eyes of God. It’s not even a matter of dishonoring the vows to each other, but the adulterous act is committed against God Himself.
Today we are witness of the faltering state of marriage and family live, reaping the sour fruit of the broken covenantal laws of God.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains in great detail what happens to marriage when sin is manifested in the covenantal union between a man and a woman, in paragraphs 1606-08. The union is always threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, conflicts which ultimately will escalate into hatreds, separation and disorder. These threats are the result of the couples “break with God” and the covenant which was vowed to God.
Dear friends I do not preach what I do not live. I am speaking from experience as one who has lived to tell it all, and the effects of sin against the sacrament of marriage. We have suffered for 19 years as we looked back to see where it all went wrong. And the Lord in His mercy gave us a birds eye view of all that we have done and the sins committed in our marriage covenant, leaving us with no other option but to tear down what we had once built on sand, to laying a new foundation in Jesus Christ.
I can honestly say as all has come to light, our own sacrament of marriage was made a mockery from the day we said I do at the altar by our act of the will and the decisions we made compromising in sin.
We never gave consideration to what was ahead of us, or did we ever really care that we were offending God, and lived for the party alone. Our marriage was built on selfishness wants and goals. To the depth of my soul, if I knew then what I know now, who knows how things would have been through these past 19 years of marriage. None the less, our experience is a witness of what not to do for married couples.
We had committed every sin against the sacrament itself. However, not only have we suffered the consequences of our sins, but our children have bared the same consequences and have suffered greatly.
The Lord in His mercy, which my friends, is the greatest treasure and mystery known to man, and in it I cling to His merciful heart, for if he were not a merciful God, I should surely be dead and steeped into the pit of hell. It was the Lord who willed the life of our souls, and to this day is using us to be a sign and a witness to the world, one not only to say that God exists, but how He can resurrect to new life what was once thought lost!
The document above said of couples, “Let them implore divine assistance by persevering in prayer, and above all, let them draw from the source of grace and charity in the Eucharist…”
Hours upon hours I spent with the Lord in the most Blessed Sacrament, attending daily mass for over 15 + years and clinging to life as my soul was being refined and purified in the fire. I only had the Lord to look to, for I found no consolation in human love. I was left to myself before my God, in the misery of my sins, knowing that what I had endured through my married life could have been avoided had I been obedient to God and His commandments and sought after holiness in virtue.
Yet all the more, I also witnessed the state of my husband’s soul, who as head of the home was leading his family to the path of hell. I was given a choice by God, to offer my life for the salvation of souls in reparation for sins, not only my sins, but the sins of my husband, and sins against our marriage, and the future of my children. A great act of mercy by the Lord for one who was swimming in misery.
I gave my yes, Our Lady took charge of me, and from there all hell was leashed against me, and the battle began. I will not speak of gory details, as most have been brought to the sacrament of reconciliation, but to witness life after death alone. I spent the greater portion of my marriage suffering from spousal physical abuse, and in its final hour I experienced the crucifixion the day I was put in the hospital with a neck injury, only to find my husband at the foot of the bed in prayer. I heard the words in my soul, “it is finished.” Now his conversion was about to begin.
Therefore I speak clearly from experience, living the Word of God which was fully flesh of my flesh. I lived on a promise by God that we would be restored and as new creatures, built now on Rock. (Mt. 7, Luke 6:48-49) I never knew when this day would come, but the Lord continued to encourage me and hold me up and make up for the love I was not receiving in human terms.
I learned through this journey that not only was I suffering for my own marriage, but for the sacrament of marriage itself, as I know that our marriage is not the only one who has suffered in this way. Ours is on the recovery.
Yes my friends, I could have easily chosen to divorce my spouse and have my children live the effects of divorced parents. I had every ground to do so. But I was living the effects of divorce already as my husband was a product of an abusive divorce situation. It is what he knew about marriage and the only example he was given in his childhood.
The Lord gave me compassion for him. I knew he was not able to love me, as he was in his condition, I had to be the example for him, because he did not know how to love me, but Jesus did. I had to allow Jesus in me to love him through me. In His mercy the Lord begged me to stay on the cross with my husband, and persevere for the sake of his soul. I had to trust that Jesus was doing something in him, even though I was not seeing it visibly.
I believed in the power of sacramental grace. I had parents who were witnesses for me, who have been married for 50 years now. I witnessed how they had overcome countless trials and tribulations in their lives and still all is imperfect and always will be, because we are human and to error is human-to forgive is divine. Their witness, my faith, and the power of God kept me on the cross, as one with Jesus.
And from this, I am witnessing the power of the resurrection, and the countless miracles of God’s mercy and love for us, who now is leading us into the promise land, and rebuilding our souls, and souls of our children.
I never thought I could love this man again. But Jesus continues to teach me about divine love, the love that only comes from God. I had to learn this love by experience, not in word, but in deed.
The love that drove him to the cross knowing what would happen to him. It is Christ from whom I draw my strength, and His love moved me to the cross with him. I did not run, I did not flee but allowed the crucifixion to occur in my soul, dying to self for the sake of the other.
It is not easy to lay this out for the world to see. Maybe you are one who may say, this is too intense. Well maybe so for you, because you are not perfect in love yet nor have you had the grace to experience as such. I have confidence in the Lord enough to know however that He will make up for what I am lacking, and the hope to say I hope He is touching hearts by this witness.
I know who I am, and I know I still have a long journey to walk, but the journey I walk is in the embraced of the eternal lover, Jesus Christ.
I make this point to say clearly this is the state of marriage today. It is also the state of the marriage union with Jesus Christ and his bride, who continues to inflict wound upon wound on His mystical body.
Parishes need to help support marriages said the holy Father. Marriages are threatened by so many facets in the world as he stated. I speak from experience having been to countless parishes in this country. There is a great need for martial spiritual direction, a need for healing and deliverance ministry, and renewal of love in the marriage sacrament.
I am living witness to the power of sacramental grace and divine mercy. We have also been given the grace to counsel many couples who suffer in multiple ways in shared experiences. The only answer is ‘press into the cross’ as Jesus did my friends.
I must note, that there are some situations where there is the threat of life of a spouse. Seek help and bring the situation to light. Be silent no more oh brave soul. No one soul needs to hide in shame any longer. There is mercy, and there is new life.
As I further go on to say in short to continue with the voice of the Church through the encyclical of Humane Vitae, pp 26, the document encourages couples to work with couples and to communicate their experiences to others. Holy Father Pope Paul VI said as such:
“Among the fruits which ripen forth from a generous effort of fidelity to the divine law, one of the most precious is that married couples themselves not infrequently feel the desire to communicate their experiences to others. Thurs there comes to be included in the vast pattern of the vocation of the laity a new and most noteworthy form of the apostolic of like to like; it is married couples themselves who become apostles and guides to other married couples. This is assuredly among so many forms of apostolate, one of those which seem most opportune today.”
Parishes must be open to allow the laity especially couples to work together to help build up once more the marriage sacrament in the plan of God. Couples who can share their experiences of the trials, sufferings and truths of married and family life, especially with young couples who encounter the sacrament with stars in their eyes.
Since the laity make up the greater portion of the Church, great emphasis must be placed in helping marriage and the family life and to help once more give birth to the Holy Spirit who wants to be present in the family.
I will conclude on the words of the Mother of God… who said:
“Dear children, tonight also your Mother is warning that satan is at work. I would like you to pay special attention to the fact that satan is at work in a special way with the young. Dear children, during this period I would like you to pray in your families with your children. I would like you to talk with your children. I would like you to exchange your experiences and help them to solve all their problems. I will pray, dear children, for the young, for all of you. Pray, dear children. Prayer is medicine that heals.” (9/9/88)
Begin today my friends. Pray in your families especially with your children. Begin to strengthen their spirits to fight against satan who is seeking to devour their souls. And be honest and open with them, sharing your experiences and how you have learned from your past mistakes. Help form their conscience, and teach them that God is fully alive!