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    Fr. Joseph Jenkins

  • The blog header depicts an important and yet mis-understood New Testament scene, Jesus flogging the money-changers out of the temple. I selected it because the faith that gives us consolation can also make us very uncomfortable. Both Divine Mercy and Divine Justice meet in Jesus. Priests are ministers of reconciliation, but never at the cost of truth. In or out of season, we must be courageous in preaching and living out the Gospel of Life. The title of my blog is a play on words, not Flogger Priest but Blogger Priest.

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Question 8 – Extraordinary Synod on the Family

8. The Relationship between the Family and the Person

a) Jesus Christ reveals the mystery and vocation of the human person. How can the family be a privileged place for this to happen?

While Catholic teachings are often reduced to negativity or what couples cannot do, the Church actually speaks to the dignity of persons and our calling as disciples:

“Finally, let the spouses themselves, made to the image of the living God and enjoying the authentic dignity of persons, be joined to one another in equal affection, harmony of mind and the work of mutual sanctification. Thus, following Christ who is the principle of life, by the sacrifices and joys of their vocation and through their faithful love, married people can become witnesses of the mystery of love which the Lord revealed to the world by His dying and His rising up to life again” (GS 52).

While the institution of marriage and family life has weathered many social changes; there are still wonderful and moving examples of living out our discipleship in the modern world. Our people do not deal well with disconnected dogmatism and lack the jargon for theological discourse. What they need are inspiring stories where people of faith witness the Gospel. At the same time we must be wary that there are social and political forces around us that are neither sympathetic to either divine-positive or natural law nor desirous of real dialogue or collaboration with the Church. They would force our hands and redefine for us both faith and family. The task before us is how we might effectively (and not in a belligerent manner) promote the sanctity of life, exclusive heterosexual marriage and the importance of permanence in regard to promises. Again, I would recommend testimonies where we see exemplified mutual respect and unconditional love.

b) What critical situations in the family today can obstruct a person’s encounter with Christ?

The situations are numerous but would include: lack of prayer or knowing how to pray; absence from the Sunday observance; extended 6 to 7 day work weeks, even Sunday; poor formation and general religious ignorance; negative influences which overwhelm Church formation; the substitution of technology for immediate human and family contact; a hostile media; lacklustre sermons and unhappy or disinterested priests, etc.

c) To what extent do the many crisis of faith which people can experience affect family life?

The critical situations are epidemic. Father Peyton, “the Rosary priest,” always insisted that “the family that prays together stays together.” Families need to be the “little Church” where people learn about Jesus, say their prayers and participate weekly at Mass together. Most families today are lapsed from the Sunday Mass. Parents are not reading bible stories or the tales of the saints to their children. The television becomes the new tabernacle where minds and hearts are directed away from the Lord. Preaching is never heard but thousands upon thousands of secular messages flood the senses in programing and commercials. Computers and the internet is another challenge. Hours are spent with the new media but only a few seconds or no time at all is given to prayer or in quality family life. Adding to the challenge is a general religious ignorance. The new evangelization has already focused on this concern but too many of our people have yet to be reached. Do our people really have a personal and corporate relationship with Jesus Christ? Do husbands see themselves as intimately connected to Christ as the priests of their homes? Do wives view themselves in light of the mystery of Mary and the Church? Do they see the child as a great gift and as a reflection of the Christ Child? We have our work cut out for us.