by Ken Artz, Joint Base Andrews MD
“At its best, the family is a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, patience, and humility in the midst of a world darkened by selfishness and conflict. In these ways, the family teaches what it means to be human. However, many temptations arise which try to coax us into forgetting that male and female are created for covenant and communion. For example, poverty, affluence, pornography, contraception, philosophical and other intellectual mistakes can all create contexts taht challenge or threaten healthy family life. The Church resists these things for the sake of protecting the family.”(Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive, Chapter 7)
On our most important days of our lives, such as birthdays and holidays, it is no coincidence that we physically return to the family. Both in good times and bad, our families are a beacon in our stormy lives. Our family loves us no matter how we feel, how we look, or what we do.
In this transient military life, friends come and go, but the family is our cephas, our rock; and similar to how the Catholic Church was built upon St. Peter, the rock, our society is built on the family. In fact, God created the first family, Adam and Eve, well before man created any governmental system. Thus, there is nothing more important in our lives then our families.
Families are also an integral part of how we define ourselves as human beings and discover our role in this confusing world. The family structure is written on the human soul by God himself. The divine plan has established that spending time with our family recharges our batteries, and it fills our souls (and even our stomachs most of the time!). This is proven when a family explodes and is torn apart through sin and/or divorce because the shrapnel stays with the children forever. The foundation on which their life was built is torn from them, irrevocably. A hole will forever be there for these children. The light in their life gets dimmer as a result.
If the family wasn’t so important then the devil would have no reason to attack it. As the famous Catholic philosopher Alice von Hildebrand often says, “The devil never sleeps, but we do.” Catholics must always be on the lookout for the landmines that await families in this modern world. Scourges such as contraception and pornography have laid waste to too many families because they create a culture of selfishness rather than the required selflessness that keeps a family together.
Luckily, however, as members of the Catholic Church, which has famously been called the “Solution of all Problems,” we have been given many supernatural tools in which we can protect our families. Tools, such as the sacraments of Holy Communion and Confession, allow us to put on the “Armor of God”, as St. Paul once implored us to do, and gear us up for combat against the ills of society. If every human being lives their life faithful to the timeless teachings of the Church then they can serve as a beacon of hope and love for the world. This will allow every Catholic family to be the light that this dark world currently needs.
The upcoming World Meeting of Families on the family offers the Catholic Church the opportunity to reaffirm the Church’s important teachings on the family and on marriage. As Raymond Cardinal Burke recently said, Christ’s truth is at the heart of marriage. These important lessons need to be inculcated into the hearts of all Catholics so they can live chastely and justly.
Since the family is and always has been the building block of society, all of society is depending on and looking to us to be that example of truth for which people are thirsting in these dark times.
NOTE: This article represents the views and opinions of the author alone and does not represent the views of the United States Federal Government or the United States Air Force.