Friday 8th May 2015: The Government of the Homestead!

By the time you receive this week’s Friday FAST, we may well know, or at least begin to have a fair idea, of who will be responsible for governing the nation over the next 5 years. Whoever it is, I am mindful of the Chinese proverb which says: “A vision without a plan is a daydream, a plan without a vision is a nightmare.”  I wonder sometimes just how much of the latter really plays a part in the politicking behind closed doors. One thing is for sure; the “parliament” (the exchange of opinions, ideas and agreements) that takes place in the home cannot survive unless the vision and planning we have for our family life is in partnership (coalition) with the Father in heaven ‘from whom every family on earth takes its name.’ (Ephesians ch 3. V15)

On May 13th 2004, in his address to the Italian Senate on “Europe: Its Spiritual Foundations of Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow;” Cardinal Ratzinger proclaimed these words that are an indicator of the contemporary challenge facing the family:

“Believing Christians should look upon themselves as a creative minority and help Europe espouse once again the best of its heritage, thereby being at the service of the whole of humanity.”

The words ‘creative minority,’ may well describe the Christian family, i.e. a household of faith with anexplicit matrimonial identity. So, as we continue to strive to witness to Christian family values amidst a political climate that so often stifles and suffocates them, let’s never lose sight of the redemptive impact the quality of our relationships have within the home  and what eventually will prevail and bear influence, however small, on society around us, regardless of what those in political power might or might not do.*

The phrase, civilisation of love, which St. John Paul II chose to describe the domestic church, that is, the family, means that in order to be a citizen of such a civilisation, one has to be in every sense of the word civil; that is, cultured. In other words, being deeply conscious of one’s own dignity in order to respect the personal dignity of others; ‘which in the final analysis is nothing else than the “humanisation of the world.”’ (Letter to Families n13 1994).  And one of the best models to look to for inspiration of that civilizing spirit in the family and home is the Mother of Christ, Mary, who awaits our special gaze and attention in May. As she made a home in Nazareth for Jesus and Joseph, she reminds us that our own home-making is the microcosm of society, shaping a universal commonwealth. There is no need for me to enunciate the many and diverse risks facing the family. Against the backdrop of contemporary politics the message of the 2008 World Day of Peace puts it succinctly;

‘Consequently, whoever, even unknowingly, circumvents the institution of the family undermines peace in the entire community, national and international, since he weakens what is in effect the primary agency of peace.’

Thus, as fidelity, the bonds and ties of marriage, home, unconditional love for children, and all small domestic things, become the building blocks of a society that coheres, so the small domestic fidelities – on a par with Mary’s own small family house – contain within it both the beginnings and maintenance of the very cohesion of society at large. Within the intrinsic link between the free choice of the heart in marriage and the collective appreciation of our Lady’s consent to become God’s mother and spouse of the Holy Spirit, is the whole idea of voting (the word vote comes from the same root as vow or votive as in votive candle) which is expressive of liberty and then protective of it, for it always emphasises and underpins the primacy of spiritual values of the interior world of choice, love and truth. So however one cast one’s vote yesterday take time to light a votive candle, especially with one’s children or grandchildren or spouse this weekend, because, in the end, that prayer, that “vote”, and a whole lifetime of little prayers, is truly the one that will win us a place with God’s elected.

*In 597 AD, the evangelization of southern Britain under Pope St. Gregory the Great was able to begin precisely because a faithful married couple – St. Ethelbert and St. Bertha, the King and Queen of Kent – by their material and more importantly, their moral power enabled it to happen.  In other words it was in and through the witness of the primary agents of the evangelization of culture, a husband and wife, which made the work of St. Augustine and his monks first possible. We shouldn’t be surprised at this. In their book “Families without Fatherhood” published by the Institute of Economic Affairs in 1992; academics Norman Dennis and George Erdos, (neither of them Catholic) who carried out research in to the crisis of the family quoted, The Ecclesiastical History of England  by the Venerable Bede, to remind the country of a previous time when society was in an equally parlous state. When St Augustine arrived in England, he wrote to Pope Gregory to describe the levels of; aggression, lawlessness, random sexuality, broken families and neglect of children which Augustine felt made his work futile. The Pope told him to concentrate on teaching the Anglo Saxons about marriage and its many benefits.  Augustine and his missionaries did precisely this and according to Bede, “England recovered.”

– Edmund Adamus
Director, Office of Marriage and Family Life – Diocese of Westminster

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