October 19, 2015
Praised be God the Father, and His son Jesus Christ, for the gift of the family. This reflection, the first of my Monday writings, has this simple purpose: proclaim praise to God for the family.
I am newly married, and something has become increasingly clear to me in my short months as a husband: the family is both the most familiar (ha. familiar.) and most complex place where we relate to other humans, created in God’s image. My newborn relationship with my wonderful wife is both intensely familiar and strangely foreign. We relate in the same ways we always have (though less frequently via video chat, thankfully), even more intimately than before, but at the same time we are called to rewrite our lives in a new way; we have the opportunity to make a proclamation of Christ as Lord in the way that we join our lives. We must encourage and support one another, yet we are also called to have the courage to admonish each other (in perfect charity and love, every time, of course). We must possess a well-defined self-knowledge that comes from our Father, but not for ourselves. Rather, we must posses ourselves so that we can die to this very self, filling our home with only the savior’s love.
These apparent paradoxes are built into my relationship with my old family as well. When I visit home, I am immediately comfortable, yet my time living on my own has given me space to reappraise my relationships with my parents and my sister. I am called more than ever to evangelize them, to tell them how God has moved me and with me.
Now having the undeserved privilege of being the writer of Monday reflections, I get to incorporate all the weekend’s news into my messages. This week, that perk includes the happy announcement that Louis and Zelie Martin have been canonized together as a married couple. The two are best known for being the parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, who is “a figure of great devotion in our time” (Fr. Innocent from St. Vincent Ferrer). They are also the parents to 4 children who died, baptized, in early childhood, and 5 daughters who went on to become consecrated religious sisters.
Let us ask them to pray for us, they who know what it means to let God rewrite their lives. Pray for us, you who know what it is to suffer a deep loss. Pray for us, you who built your own church in the secluded quiet of your home.
Pray with us, Louis and Zelie, thanking God for those with whom he has surrounded us, plucking them out of eternity to be our Family. Pray with us for the synod that reflects on this mystery as we speak.
Lord, give us soft hearts that thank God every day for our parents and our siblings, who have shaped and formed us, built us, support us, and who may often hurt us.
Help us to bring only Your love to our families, seeing in them a reflection of Yourself and your Holy Family.