Friday 7th November 2014: The Divine Richness of Kitchen Tables!

“Marriage and the family are rooted in the inmost nucleus of the truth about man and his destiny.” You can read Pope Benedict XVI’s full speech here.
 
These are still powerful words echoing back to us from 2006 and most especially in the light of the recent synod and the anticipation of the synod to come on the family. A few weeks ago, I spoke of what I call the ‘theology of the kitchen table’, and promised I would revisit the idea for further comment. In essence, it’s understanding the extraordinary nature of the seemingly ordinary and – all too often perceived as the mundane – stuff of everyday family and home life. It’s the kind of supernatural sensitivity that gives a righteousness to the comments of public figures like former “Apprentice” star and soon to be Baroness Brady of Knightsbridge that “women who stay at home to care for their children should not be considered to be doing “menial work.” (click here for full comments)
 
The place where fraternal love, compassion for the needy, in short, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy, is taught is the sanctuary of the home, and its altar, where so much love and fellowship is exchanged time and time again, is the kitchen or dining table. The kitchen/dining table receives more tears per square inch than any other item of furniture. Young children meet their mothers there with their bleeding knees, banged elbows and scratches. Older ones may spill some tears on their pillows, but, if they want someone to listen (and they usually do), they roam to the kitchen table. The kitchen table also is the scene of more laughter than any other place in the home, because that’s where the people are or should be if the TV, computer and handheld screens are off!  It’s a place where one can learn from early childhood the values of fraternal outreach, where prayers are said, plans are made, joys and sorrows are shared, memories relived. It’s a place for arguing, perhaps, but hopefully not quarreling. And when it is, it’s often the “confessional” of the home where reconciliation takes place and the healing balm of loving dialogue takes place amidst tender hugs and kisses. 
 
I first explored this notion back in 2012 [almost to the day] when Westminster Cathedral, Bishop Alan Hopes, alongside 3000+ visitors were privileged to solemnly welcome the Pilgrim Icon of Our Lady of Czestochowa of Poland on its “From Ocean to Ocean” tour in the cause of the Gospel of life and the family! This outstandingly beautiful itinerant icon has now drawn millions of faithful to recommit themselves across countless events to the preservation and protection of the family founded on marriage for the re-evangelisation and the Civilisation of Love. 
 
The great Pope St John Paul II, who often prayed before the icon from Nazareth often, speaks of “Christian parents [being] able to spread their love beyond the bonds of flesh and blood, nourishing the links that are rooted in the spirit.. through concrete service to the children of other families, who are often without even the barest necessities.’
 
The original Icon and the Pilgrim copy bears the scars and marks of attack. So too does the Christian family, not least the ever-present menace to parental authority which hovers like a spectre beyond every front door, particularly in the arena of ever increasing measures to force anti-life, anti-marriage and family “sex education” (an oxymoron if ever there was one in my view).
 
I opened this week’s thought with Benedict XVI. I conclude with his words from the same address: “Today, the need to avoid confusing marriage with other types of unions based on weak love is especially urgent. It is only the rock of total, irrevocable love between a man and a woman that can serve as the foundation on which to build a society that will become a home for all mankind.” And with these thoughts in mind we pray with even greater fervour this month for the Holy Souls and our dear departed loved ones who journey ahead of us to that eternal banquet at the heavenly table!
 
– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster
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