One of the most basic and important elements of society is the family. It is the family unit into which we are born, and it is the first social element to which we are exposed. It is from the family that we learn the most basic social skills. The family, in fact, is the basis for all other governmental forms. Destroy or corrupt the family, and you will destroy or corrupt society.
American Catholic Solidarity understands the importance of the family. All of the work we do, or plan to do in the future, affect and involve the family. Not to mention that the family unit is in crisis in this country. So I felt it very important that American Catholic Solidarity have a prayer for the family. The “Prayer of Pope St. John Paul II for the Family” was one of the best I found.
“Lord God, from You every family in Heaven and on Earth takes its name.”
We begin this prayer with an acknowledgement that the very name and idea of family comes from God. For what is the Trinity if not a Divine Family? Since God is the very source of the family, the family unit should mirror its Creator through holiness. A family which fails in holiness, fails in its most basic purpose.
“Father, You are love and life.”
What is the best way to mirror God? To answer this we must know what God actually is. Is He an impersonal force? Certainly not, for an impersonal force can not create personal beings. Personality can not come from non-personality.
Is God then a remote being Who creates us, and then leaves us to our own designs? This is most definitely not the case! Does any sane human being bear offspring, and then leave them to find for themselves? Then why would God do such a thing?
Our prayer here refers to St. Paul’s words about God’s essence. St. Paul tells us that “God is love”. Here in our prayer we acknowledge as much. Yet, Jesus (God the Son) says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” God is love, and true love always leads to life; whether that life be spiritual or physical in nature.
“Through Your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman, and through the Holy Spirit, the fountain of Divine Charity, grant that every family on Earth may become for each generation a true shrine of life and love.”
In this sentence we speak of God’s goodness in allowing His Son to be “born of woman”, becoming human as we are. Yet, it means so much more. Humanity was already sanctified simply by being created by God. This sanctification of human life was furthered by the Son of God taking on human flesh.
We also speak of the Holy Spirit as the “fountain of Divine Charity”. Divine Charity is the same as Divine Providence. We are speaking of God’s loving care for us. He doesn’t create us and leave us. He creates us and loves us. True love, as everyone should know, is never passive.
In this same sentence we go on to ask the Trinity to sanctify all of our families, not just our own. And we don’t want only those of us here now to be sanctified. We want even our descendants (unknown to us, but known to God) to be sanctified as well. To ensure our future descendants might also be holy, we must begin now to set that example. This is what we request here.
“Grant that Your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives for the good of their families, and of all the families in the world.”
To be holy we need God’s grace. But we must be holy in thought, as well as in deed. For the family, this starts with the husband and wife. But we don’t want to be good examples for our children, and our family alone. We want to be a holy example for all other families.
The job of the Christian is to get to Heaven, and to try to bring as many of his/her fellow man with him/her. The best way to do this is by example. We live in a world community of which the family is just one small (but essential) part. If parents can guide their own family to holiness, they may help guide others to holiness, as well.
“Grant that the young may find in the family solid support for their human dignity, and for their growth in truth and love.”
The family should always be a place of nurturing for children. It is the primary job of parents to educate their children in both secular matters and religious matters. This is, perhaps, the most frequently neglected parental duty. We tend to leave education to the schools and churches.
To do this is to deprive our children of the greatest influence in their lives (that of parental influence) in some of the most important areas of life. We must instill our children with the understanding of the dignity of each and every human life; and we must teach them how to continually develop in love.
That’s not all, though. We must also instruct our children in truth. What does it matter what we teach our children if we teach them error? To instruct our children in truth, love, and human dignity, the parents themselves must learn these things. Further, parents must demonstrate to their children that learning is never complete. In other words, parents themselves must continue to develop in truth and love; and they must demonstrate an understanding of human dignity beyond that of their children. This means being fair, kind, and understanding to even those we perceive to be the lowest of mankind.
“Grant that love, strengthened by the Sacrament of Marriage, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials through which our families sometimes pass.”
It is no secret that being married is difficult. Whether you have kids, or not, marriage is tough. My wife is awesome, but she can be the biggest pain in the neck. Unfortunately, I am no better. It’s a real struggle to improve, adapt, and compromise. Without the help God has given us in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, my wife and I couldn’t do it. No one could! The love my wife and I have for one another, coupled with God’s grace, gets us through. This is just one way to be an example of familial holiness our children and others.
“Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that the Church may carry out Her worldwide mission in the family, and through the family.”
We now turn our attention to our wider family…the Church. We ask the Holy Family to intercede for the success of the Church. That She may carry out Her mission of bringing Christ to all families. Thereby, leading all families in the world to holiness.
“We ask this of You, Who is life, truth, and love with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.”
We acknowledge that our prayer goes to God the Father in the name of the Son and the Holy Spirit. In other words, we once again acknowledge our belief in the Holy Trinity. This belief is strengthened in the word “amen”. This is a way of saying, “So be it.” The English really isn’t strong enough. Amen isn’t used merely to acknowledge the truth of something. It acknowledges our willingness to bear witness (“martyr” in Greek) to our belief in the truthfulness of our faith. And that is the love family members ought to have for one another. We must become a martyr to the wants and needs of the members of our family. This is the surest way to fulfill the holiness of the family.
Peace in Christ,
David J. Pollard
American Catholic Solidarity