Family Life in ChristWritten by Gary Shirley
God ordained Christian family to have a specific design - a man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children. The family is called domestic church because it is a community of faith, hope and charity. Within family, we first learn to respect sanctity of life from conception to natural death. This means welcoming children into marriage through birth or adoption but also learning to show reverence for life of others such as elderly, infirm, poor, disabled, and imprisoned.
Every member of Christian family has a God-ordained function. Though equal in sight of God, men and women have entirely different responsibilities. As stated so clearly in Catechism: “Divine fatherhood is source of human fatherhood...” which reaffirms importance of man’s function as head of family. Though equal (as God) to Father, Christ himself lived and died in supreme obedience to will of Father. Throughout faith history, men have been called to leadership roles by God, from Adam to Noah to David to Moses to Paul to Peter. This call to leadership does not necessarily infer perfection, capability or skill, but call is nonetheless intrinsic to manhood. Pervasive gender-role confusion in our society today makes it is easy to dismiss or compromise this primordial function of men to lead their families to God.
To carry out their responsibility, men are to be servant leader of all in their charge. Leaders provide a clear vision, set a solid example, and help others in their pursuit of holiness. Fathers must ensure that their children are brought up in faith, beginning of which is their own life being one of Christian holiness. Men who abdicate their leadership responsibility under some mistaken notion of “sensitivity” bring disorder into family and society. A simple review of crime statistics in our land reveals terrible impact of fathers who ignored or minimized their prescribed role.
Woman’s role as wife and mother differs from but complements that of man. St. Paul reminds us of God’s intent to provide a helpmate and partner to man, “For man was not made from woman, but woman from man. Neither was man created for woman, but woman for man.”(1 Cor 11: 8-9).
Modeling themselves on Blessed Mother, women are called to support and honor their husband’s role asleader of family. In her function as wife and mother, a woman brings wonderful attributes such as nurturing care, tenderness and compassion to family life. As with her husband, a wife is called to a life of holiness and Christian example.
Children are called to proffer respect for parents out of gratitude for having given them gift of life (CCC #2216-2218)*. Respect is shown by docility and obedience to parents during one’s childhood. Obedience ceases with emancipation, but respect does not. Grown children are reminded to assist their aging parents as much as possible with material and moral support, as well as in times of illness, loneliness and distress.
Sacramental marriage is foundation of family. It is gift of self, a gift that is freely given and total in nature. The perpetual and exclusive bond of marriage creates sanctuary wherein security of family rests. The sacred covenant finds its physical manifestation in sexual intimacy of marriage act between man and wife (CCC #2360; also Tob 8: 4-9). Reflecting this covenant, spouses’ physical union honors twofold end of marriage, which is to serve good of spouses (the “unitive”) and to be open to transmission of life (the “procreative”).
Children are supreme gift of marriage, in contrast to our societal view which considers them a “right.” In our zeal to conceive a child at all costs, medical science offers us numerous techniques that attempt to produce a child by disassociation of husband and wife or involvement of a third party (such as donation of sperm or ovum, surrogate uterus, or in-vitro fertilization). These actions violate child’s right to be born of a loving act of father and mother. All such techniques are morally unacceptable (CCC # 2376-77). It is impossible to live sacramental life while engaging in such practices, for we knowingly introduce other persons and processes into loving act of procreation, an act that belongs rightly to husband, wife and God.
The intentional spacing of children, if undertaken for just reasons, also demands that we observe moral norms. Periodic continence (methods based on self-observation and use of infertile periods, such as Natural Family Planning) respects individual spouses and offers a mutually supportive, natural means of spacing. On other hand, artificial birth control or any action which frustrates or thwarts normal outcome of procreative act defrauds God and falsifies marital act. All such methods are morally unacceptable (CCC #2370).
My Finest CutoffsWritten by Gary Shirley
Andy looked in mirror to give himself “once over” before heading out door to most important event of his life. He finally had his chance to interview with Zenon Industries. Undoubtedly finest company in his field, landing a job with Zenon meant unlimited career possibilities coupled with great security.
Andy had prepared for weeks to have all right answers to potential interview questions. He had splurged on a quality business suit, Italian shoes and even a new briefcase. One thing he had learned long ago was to always dress one level above position sought, so to project an image of promotability. Andy was pleased with his preparations, his appearance and his attitude. He was pumped, for this day was important and it deserved his best effort. As he headed out door, Andy’s seven-year-old son Colin promised that he and Mom would pray for Dad “all day long.”
The hiring staff at Zenon experienced an interview with a true professional in top form. Andy did a stellar job. Driving home after interview he reviewed everything in his mind. He was convinced that he came across well and that job was as good as filled. Andy’s confidence was soon rewarded, for on following Friday he got call. Zenon offered a package he could not believe. Besides a hefty raise and improved benefits, he would get hoped-for company car and a signing bonus. Most definitely news worth celebrating.
Saturday brought a night on town like he and his wife Karen had never had in their lives. A five-star meal, expensive seats at theater, and dancing into night. Everything was perfect. All of his sacrifices in past made this accomplishment taste even sweeter. The future was bright and portended great things.
Sunday dawned and Andy crawled out of bed still basking in glow of his good fortune. The family usually went to 10:45 Mass so that they had a bit of time to relax before heading out door. Reflecting on his good fortune, Andy realized that most important thank-you was yet to come. God had given him a golden moment and it was right to offer thanks in person. Stopping at same mirror he used for “once over,” he silently nodded his approval for his chosen Sunday Mass attire.
Andy had on his finest cutoff shorts, a T-shirt emblazoned with logo of his favorite sports team and his best sneakers. Perfect. Once Mass is over, Andy thought, we can roll right into day. Maybe we’ll have a “second celebration” of new job with entire family...a stop at Macaroni Grill for lunch, followed by ice cream. Hey, why not?
Enroute to church, Andy was feeling proud and grateful. He commented to his wife how very important this Mass was, for there was so much for which he needed to express gratitude. Hearing his Dad express, once again, how important a coming event was, Colin piped up with his usual, brutal candor. “Daddy,” Colin said, “If Mass is important, just like thing you did other day, how come you aren’t wearing that special suit again? Doesn’t God like to see you dressed up too?”
Andy, man with all answers at Zenon, was speechless. In his mind he ran through all comebacks he could make. Excuses like, “God only cares what is in our hearts” or “God isn’t interested in outward appearance” or “God loves us no matter what we wear” were lame and unconvincing. Colin had managed, in his childhood innocence, to lay bare truth. The boy’s comment cut like a laser through new hero of Zenon Industries. God, quite simply, was not worth effort. Andy knew it was true. Zenon was worth a new suit, power tie and Italian shoes. The Maker of universe merited cutoffs and a T-shirt. God got no better than clothes that I would wear to change oil in my car, Andy thought. He realized that his message was, “I am grateful, Lord, but not enough to raise you above everyday, so I’ll give thanks dressed like I just mowed lawn.”