Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God; I came not of my own accord, but He sent me. Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. You are of your father, the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. But, because I tell you the truth, you do not believe me.” (John 8:42-46)
When I lose sight of the “larger battle”, it is impossible for me to make any sense of my own life let alone the world at large. I lose all context and cannot figure things out. Consider . . .
- Why for instance would the Governor of New York celebrate laws that condone the murder of 100,000 unborn children each year in his state while also imposing lockdown laws that supposedly save lives?
- How could former Cardinal McCarrick celebrate Mass each day while sexually abusing young men?
- How can the burning love of newlyweds turn to dislike and even to hatred for one another?
- Why do schools teach science and simultaneously promote gender ideologies that disregard scientific facts?
- Why does a teen lose his father to alcoholism and his mother to cancer?
- How do I help my friend make sense of his failed second marriage, “I thought this time would be different.”
Saint John Paul ll, prophet that he was, clearly understood that we are at war and that the enemy’s primary target is marriage and the family. Born Karol Wojtyla, in a small town in Poland, Saint John Paul ll had lost his immediate family – mom, older brother, an infant sister, and father – by the time he was 20. Then the communists invaded and he was sent to labor in a rock quarry and went underground to study for the priesthood. The communists had set up the state as the final authority, undermining the role of parents and seeking to indoctrinate the children at an early age (sounds similar to our educational system today). He clearly understood that it was marriage and the family itself that was under attack. John Paul ll would later say that what the communists could not achieve, the destruction of the family, the modern sexual revolution would achieve. He wrote in his “Letter to Families” in 1994 that it is marriage and the family itself “…that’s placed at the heart of the great struggle between good and evil, between life and death, between love and all that’s opposed to love.”
Sister Lucia, Fatima visionary, who met with Pope John Paul ll on three occasions, concurred. She said, “A time will come when the decisive battle between the kingdom of Christ and Satan will be over marriage and the family.” We are seeing that decisive battle being fought out today. On top of divorce, abortion and euthanasia, families are dealing with wide-spread use of pornography and the confusion and morass surrounding same-sex marriage and gender identity to name a few. Then, there is the sexual abuse scandal in the Church herself.
Already back in 1994 in his “Letter to Families” John Paul ll wrote, “unfortunately, various programs backed by very powerful resources nowadays seem to aim at the breakdown of the family. At times it appears that concerted efforts are being made to present as “normal” and attractive, and even to glamorize, situations which are in fact “irregular”. Indeed, they contradict “the truth and love” which should inspire and guide relationships between men and women, thus causing tensions and divisions in families, with grave consequences particularly for children. The moral conscience becomes darkened; what is true, good and beautiful is deformed; and freedom is replaced by what is actually enslavement. In view of all this, how relevant and thought-provoking are the words of the Apostle Paul about the freedom which Christ has set us free, and the slavery which is caused by sin” (cf. Gal 5:1)!
I know many families feel that they should get serious about their faith before it’s too late, but how? Unfortunately, many parents don’t know where to begin and have simply thrown up their hands. Often poorly catechized themselves and feeling ill-equipped when trying to discuss the faith at home or anywhere else, parents have become paralyzed and even feel threatened as the culture labels them bigots or accuses them of hatred for just trying. Who would blame them for beginning to wonder if the Church really has the answers and that maybe the culture has a point when it declares that there is no right way to live?
What is the solution to this Pandemic attacking mankind at its foundation built on marriage and the family? Saint John Paul ll said that Christ and the Church have answers to these questions, and he left us a Biblical blueprint to follow in his teaching on the “Theology of the Body”. He summarized that teaching in his “Letter to Families” and went on to say, “It is apparent how timely and even necessary a ‘Year of the Family’ is for the Church.” I believe that it is again ‘timely and even necessary’ for Parishes to think about setting aside the complex organizational charts and six pillars of this and ten steps to that no matter how well intentioned and get focused on Marriage and the Family. Simplify the organizational chart by drawing a big picture of the altar in your Church with Christ hanging on the Crucifix behind it. At the altar draw your Pastor consecrating the Eucharist. Then draw the lines from there to every family in your Parish (the Domestic Church). There you have it. Clear away as much clutter and eliminate as many distractions as possible and focus on making this the year of Marriage and the Family in your Parish. Everything else you do – and there is always plenty to do and many needs to be met – flows out of this.
Let’s help our families become stronger, healthier, holier and happier. In turn, they will make all of Parish life more vibrant and healthier, holier and happier.
We must help families come to know and confidently be able to share the beauty of God’s plan for love, marriage and the family. A plan that is not just about learning more information but a plan that reveals who they already are…persons created in the Image and Likeness of God! A plan that is so true, good and beautiful that when they learn that it is already inscribed in their hearts and stamped in their bodies as male and female, they cannot help but be transformed.
We are all called to do something great with our lives. It all starts with Marriage and the Family and our call to love as God loves. St. John Paul II reminds us of this lofty call and encourages us that true love is possible.