“From the beginning of creation, “God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10).
These words of Jesus from our gospel this Sunday come at an appropriate juncture in the life of the Catholic Church, just between the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, which was held September 22 – 27, and the upcoming Synod of Bishops in Rome from October 5 – 24, which has the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and the Contemporary World.”
St John Paul II once famously wrote: “The future of the world and of the Church passes through the family” (Familiaris Consortio, 75). It is not surprising, therefore, that marriage and the family have been the focus of a sustained all-out attack by Satan for the last fifty years. The upcoming Synod of Bishops have a very difficult task to forge a way forward for the Church to both hold to the original intention of God for marriage and the family, as stated in such texts as the one from Mark’s gospel quoted above, and try to find a response to the many ways in which marriage and family are lived in contemporary society.
The World Meeting on Families was conceived by St John Paul II in 1992 to strengthen the bonds of Christian families worldwide and has been held every three years since 1994. This most recent meeting was the eighth, and coincided with the first apostolic journey of Pope Francis to the United States. The theme of this year’s gathering was: “Love is our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” As St John Paul II wrote in his encyclical, Familiaris Consortio: The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love” (17). This mission arises from the “community of life and love” that begins with the married couple in the sacrament of matrimony, and is carried forward in the way each member of the family lives and embraces an authentic life of love, both within the family, and outside it.
During the coming year, the Knights of Colombus will be promoting two initiatives to strengthen Catholic family life. The first is Building the Domestic Church: The Family Fully Alive,” a program of family prayer, meditation and Scripture. The second is the Holy Family Pilgrim Icon prayer program. The September issue of the Knights magazine, Colombia, contains excellent articles on the role and mission of the family as “the way of the church.” If you are the wife of a Knight, or a neighbour or friend of a Knight, ask him if you could have a read of the magazine when he has finished it. That way, you will be not only providing good spiritual nourishment for yourself, but also nudging your husband/neighbor/friend, to actually get on and read the magazine himself!!