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A Renewal of the Family


by Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson

In focusing on “Building the Domestic Church,” the Order helps Catholic families to fulfill their mission

Carl A. Anderson

THIS MONTH, we fix our gaze on the Holy Family and are able to see how, in the words of the Second Vatican Council, “authentic married love is caught up into divine love” (Gaudium et Spes, 48).

In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis reminds us that the Holy Family exudes the beauty of family life (65). He then recalls the words of Pope Paul VI that the Holy Family “illuminates the principle which gives shape to every family” (66).

During the past several years, the Knights of Columbus has begun a number of important initiatives to help our families draw closer to the Holy Family and, in this way, to get “caught up into divine love.”

One of our most important initiatives is our program of family consecration to the Holy Family.

In his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, St. John Paul II wrote, “The family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love” (17). He went on to say, “Man cannot live without love. He remains a being that is incomprehensible for himself, his life is senseless, if love is not revealed to him, if he does not encounter love, if he does not experience it and make it his own, if he does not participate intimately in it” (18).

This task is revealed in an intense and intimate way to the members of the family — both as individuals and as a community. Pope Francis states that in fulfilling its mission, “every family, despite its weaknesses, can become a light in the darkness of the world” (Amoris Laetitia, 66).

The Second Vatican Council also addressed the mission of the laity in broader terms, noting that “the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God” (Lumen Gentium, 31).

Then the council tells us something astonishing: The laity is called to “consecrate the world itself to God” (34).

The French philosopher Jean-Luc Marion suggests this means that each Christian is called first and foremost to “convert the part of the world that is in him.”

We might add that the layman is also called to convert that part of the world which is uniquely entrusted to him: his marriage and his family.

Seen in this light, the Order’s program of family consecration to the Holy Family will help many of our members to take an important step in fulfilling their responsibility as husbands and fathers to consecrate their “part of the world” to God.

By understanding the Christian family as a domestic church, the Order’s initiative to strengthen Catholic family life calls attention to the family’s identity and mission.

Much can be said about the family as a domestic church. But a good place to begin is with what Pope Benedict XVI wrote in Deus Caritas Est about the Church itself. “The Church’s deepest nature,” he explained, “is expressed in her three-fold responsibility: of proclaiming the word of God, celebrating the sacraments, and exercising the ministry of charity” (25).

These duties also apply to the domestic church. The family has the duty to evangelize, to worship and to perform acts of charity.

In order to help more brother Knights take up their leadership role within their families — to help transmit the faith to their children and lead them in worship and a commitment to Christian charity — we have made available the new guide to fostering masculine spirituality, Into the Breach.

Pope Francis also tells us in Amoris Laetitia that “the Church is a family of families, constantly enriched by the lives of all those domestic churches” (87).

With this in mind, we unite all of our family programs in the initiative Building the Domestic Church While Strengthening Our Parish. In this way, all of our Knights of Columbus families can be at the service of the Church in greater ways and help to lead a renewal of both family and parish life.

Vivat Jesus!