Editorial: Beloved Families!
|Fritz von Uhde|
Christ with a Farmer's Family (1887-8)
Dear families! Dear beloved Christian homes! Most honourable and precious domestic churches! Let your due praises be sung, though with insufficient words!
May we start by thanking all faithfully married spouses (or formerly married if they are widowed). We include whoever may be separated or has been abandoned and still remains faithful, if we know any. And also, wherever they may be, any estranged spouses who have come back to God. Dear faithful spouses, thank you for mirroring Christ’s enduring love for the Church and, by extension, God’s indefectible love for every soul. Thank you for forgiving each other whenever needed, and for starting afresh every day. In the darkness of this selfish and despairing world, thank you for radiating God’s tenderness, in your own particular fashion. Thank you for demonstrating that God’s grace purifies and elevates our human affections. God gives and does not take back. When on your glorious wedding day, standing before His altar, you imitated God’s irrevocable promise, trusting in His word and assistance, you did well: “I, Robert, take you, Philomena, for my lawful wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. – I, Philomena, take you, Robert, for my lawful husband...” We are all so proud of you! Your commitment makes us stronger too.
Dear faithful spouses, thank you for welcoming the gift of life generously, when God grants you the grace of conceiving. You are the gracious gates through which immortal human souls – your children’s – begin their journey towards God. The sacred path of life you keep open, serenely, not locking up your love. Thank you for heroically sacrificing your material comfort to offer new worshippers to the Most Holy Trinity through generation, through the catholic education of your children and through the good example you give them. God who chose to be born and raised in a human family is with yours. Every day. Every night. Do trust in God’s love for you and for your beloved families. Do trust in the assistance of God’s Holy Church, the truthful Bride of Christ.
Dear husband, thank you for embracing the responsibility of your domestic church. Like St Joseph, thank you for providing for your dear wife and children. Thank you for your meritorious concerns on their behalf; for your daily worries for food, for clothes, for housing, for education and health and, through all this, for the sanctification of all of those under your roof. Thank you for working so hard to raise your family and for retaining for yourself so little for leisure and spending. Thank you for your manly purity, defended with humble might sometimes against hellish filth: Our Lady, the New Eve, will reward you for the honour you do to her daughter your wife. Thank you for fortifying our orphaned age with the urgently needed embodiment of fatherhood, after the heavenly Father “of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named” (Ephesians 3:15).
Dear wife, thank you for supporting your husband even in his unhappy days. Thank you for adorning your common home with soothing designs and with domestic peace. Thank you for your attempts to focus on all at the same time. Thank you for accepting the discomfort and even the suffering of pregnancies and the ordeal of childbirth, and for smiling through your tears. Thank you for the physical and psychological cost you pay for bringing into this life and raising for the next every beloved child. Thank you for your courage simply to go out shopping or to the surgery with your little ones, when passers-by dare mock or insult your motherhood! At this traffic light, in this waiting room, be sure that the angels and saints are your glorious escort. And soon on Judgment Day, the Son of the Woman shall praise – as a halo to the one who bore Him – your motherly glory.
And now, dear children and adolescents, to you as well, thank you. Thank you for trusting in the love of your parents and for supporting them with your affection now, and later also materially. Thank you for accepting a less affluent lifestyle for the sake of a more numerous family. Thank you for taking inspiration from the love of your parents, whatever their limitations. Thank you for preserving your own bodies and souls for the spouse human or divine whom God wants for you. God watches over you. God sees your sacrifices and patience as members of a larger household. Must you share your room and give your clothes to younger siblings? Jesus will share with you His own Mother, and will give you his loving Heart!
Dear grandparents, thank you! Your long experience and your tender wisdom are needed by the young, and still by their parents. Pray for those who are still your children, even though they now have children of their own. Discreetly be there. Lovingly be there.
Dear and beloved spouses of yesterday, for many years living maritally with a person you love but whom you can’t marry, with whom perhaps you have other children – were you ever told that the promise you first gave entailed no duty without a grace, no grace without a joy? Having relied on your own strength and skills, somehow you found yourself trapped, stuck and weak... But there is One sitting by the well of your heart, Who will never call you to more than you can bear, with his grace. Thank you for asking Him – you will not regret it: “Sir, give me this water, that I may not thirst” (John 4:15).
Dear and treasured men and women struggling to love according to nature, thank you for standing firm in grace. “The kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent bear it away” (Matthew 11:12). Thank you for resisting impulses even deep, which would not fulfil your true selves. Thank you for your courage and for your trust in God. Thank you for your support for husbands and for wives, whose spousal bond you gallantly don’t fake. Your friendship honours us, brethren in Christ.
We conclude this thanksgiving with the following words addressed last 14 September by the Vicar of Christ, Pope Francis, to couples getting married: “Whoever entrusts himself to Jesus crucified receives the mercy of God and finds healing from the deadly poison of sin. [...] Marriage is a symbol of life, real life: it is not “fiction”! It is the Sacrament of the love of Christ and the Church, a love which finds its proof and guarantee in the Cross.”
I wish you a grace-filled Advent.
Fr Armand de Malleray, FSSP
Superior of the English FSSP Apostolate,
St John Fisher House, Reading, 21 November 2014
[The Dowry, Winter 2014/2015]