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Holy Family Is Model for Strong Family Life, Says Bishop
Source: Catholic News Service
Published: Sunday, September 6, 2009
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (CNS)—The Holy Family is the ultimate example for today's families in how to live according to God's plan for humankind and achieve a fruitful and harmonious family life, a Catholic bishop told participants at the National Marriage Conference in Lexington.

"The Holy Family will not fail to help all families in fulfilling their day-to-day duties," said Bishop Ronald W. Gainer of Lexington.

He was one of a number of speakers at the conference held in early August at Lexington Catholic High School. It was co-sponsored by the Lexington Diocese and Familia, the family life apostolate of the Legionaries of Christ.

Bishop Gainer pointed out that today, in this media age, family life is often seen as it is portrayed on television situation comedies, and though these families are good for a laugh, they are rarely good role models for families in real life.

"Parents are often depicted as clueless, and rarely involved in what is really going on in their children's lives," he said.

"People often romanticize the life of the Holy Family, but such a view is not accurate," he said.

He suggested his listeners look at Scripture, particularly the infancy narratives in the Gospels of St. Luke and St. Matthew.

"These stories tell us what it takes to create a harmonious family life under the order of what God desires for marriage and family life," Bishop Gainer said. "We don't get much info, but we get enough. We see parents who are selfless and giving, who set aside their own plans and comfort for each other and their child. This model is essential for marriage and family life."

The fact that Jesus was born into a human family "sanctified the family," he said.
Using the analogy of a kingdom as an illustration, Bishop Gainer talked about proper family structure. He said each in his or her own right is a "monarch" with specific, divinely ordained roles. St. Joseph, like a benevolent king, is the father who protects and cares for his family, he said. In the role of queen, Mary is nurturing to her child, her "subject," he said, adding that the child's role is to be obedient and learn from his parents.

But in modern families, there has been a rejection of this order and the results are the disintegration and even collapse of family life today, the bishop said.

"We have moved from God's order and hierarchy to a family democracy—the rule of the child—loving by allowing," he said.

Another problem today is that some fathers abdicate their role in the home, and too often the mother doesn't marry the father, which causes "a revolution in the kingdom," and anarchy results, he said. Another threat to families is "false hierarchies," he said, giving abortion as an example because the mother's hierarchy becomes the hierarchy of power, not love.

"It becomes the powerful acting against the powerless," he said.

Bishop Gainer urged Catholic families to be a model for others and "a leaven" to change society.

"The family is the most fundamental unit of society," he said, and "a sign of God's life-giving love for all in Jesus Christ."

Another speaker urged participants to promote a "Catholic vision of marriage."
Mike Allen, director of family life ministries for the Diocese of Lexington, stressed that Catholics should support and uphold the sacrament of marriage and not view it as "just a little issue."

In his address, Allen mentioned the national pastoral initiative on marriage developed by the U.S. bishops. He said the initiative emphasizes that marriage—contrary to the opinion of popular culture—is not just a human construct that can be defined however people want.

Misunderstandings in today's culture about the truth of marriage and its importance are definitely affecting people, especially children, he said.

Allen referenced a July 13 Time magazine article titled "Unfaithfully Yours" by Caitlin Flanagan. In the article, Flanagan stated, "On every single significant outcome related to short-term well-being and long-term success, children from intact, two-parent families outperform those from single-parent households."

He pointed out how Flanagan's article supported a statement Pope John Paul II made in his 1981 apostolic exhortation, "Familiaris Consortio," on the role of the Christian family. The pope said the future of humanity passes by way of the family. Allen quoted another point the pope made: "It must be emphasized once more that the pastoral intervention of the church in support of the family is a matter of urgency."

Allen also said the phrase "troubled marriage" is a misnomer, noting that "all marriages are troubled marriages and need support."

In another talk, Father Steve Roberts, vocations director for the Lexington Diocese, stressed the importance of Catholics presenting the "good news" of the Gospel to a world in need.

He said those who do this work "must be careful and have the proper attitude," not presenting church teaching as a list of prohibitions but as "a positive option."


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