By Fr David Ranson
The evangelisation of families is one of the most pressing challenges in our Church.
As important as is the need for personal conversion, and as significant as is the Church’s mission in the education of young people, unless faith is nurtured and sustained in the context of family, it is difficult to develop genuine communities of faith.
Faith requires community for its nourishment, and the paramount community is the family.
As the Catechism teaches it is the first icon of the Trinity, and it is where the Church first becomes manifest. For this reason, the family is called the ‘domestic Church’.
In all its struggle and opportunity, we affirm marriage is a living icon of the Divine Life, the Trinity itself.
“… we understand marriage as a sacrament: the means by which God’s very being and life become manifest in our world.”
In other words, if we want to understand God, we need to look at a couple given to one another in marriage.
They are our best teachers about God. Their self-giving and mutual reception exercised in such a way as to create a relationship of its own nature and life, mirrors what happens between the Father and Son which itself generates its own living entity, the Spirit of God.
For this reason, we understand marriage as a sacrament: the means by which God’s very being and life become manifest in our world.
Family life today is more complex than ever. New forms of family have emerged.
Our relationships themselves are not straightforward as an increasing number of blended families come into being.
Perhaps, indeed, every one of our families bring questions to the fore.
All of us know the many pressures that can make family life difficult. Yet, we hold to the undeniable importance of family.
And from a Catholic Christian perspective we continue to affirm the sacredness of this most intimate circle of relationships even in the midst of its liabilities and imperfection.
The Catechism explains it in this way: “The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which husband and wife are called to give themselves in love and in the gift of life. Authority, stability, and a life of relationships within the family constitute the foundations for freedom, security, and fraternity within society. The family is the community in which, from childhood, one can learn moral values, begin to honour God, and make good use of freedom. Family life is an initiation into life in society” (n. 2207).
“This is why the Church holds that the good of persons and the proper functioning of society are closely connected with the healthy state of marriage and family life,” as Cardinal Brady of Armagh pointed out at a conference in 2008.
Our families give us our identity. Their story shapes us.
“… the parish community will flourish as families of the parish are supported and nourished.”
More than ever, we need to look for those ways to celebrate their significance, to commit to nurturing the fabric of their life, to reach out fostering their inter-connections.
We are to treasure the gift that we have for it is in our commitment that we glimpse the nature of the God whom we celebrate in Jesus, born into and raised by a family and its story.
For this reason, the initiative of the Domestic Church of the Light-Life Movement in the Parish of Gosford is to be warmly encouraged and supported.
It is an indication of correct intuition by the Pastor of the Parish, Fr Grzegorz Skulski that the parish community will flourish as families of the parish are supported and nourished.
The initiative is a great blessing to the Parish of Gosford but also to the entire Diocese of Broken Bay and hopefully, it will become something in which many of our parishes will participate.
May this endeavour to bring fresh possibility into our parishes and into our Church.
Fr David Ranson is the Vicar-General for the Diocese of Broken Bay