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  • Writer's pictureDr. Anthony Lilles

The Christian Family and the Mystery of Sin

Because the Christian Family bears a unique relationship with the Holy Trinity, it also bears an adversarial relationship with the mystery of sin. As a communion of persons that images the truth, love and life of the Divine Persons, each family of Christ's disciples must struggle against anything that would be an obstacle to this life. In this sense, family life is a battleground where character and faithfulness are proven. The family is where the battle for integrity begins and it is where self-contradictions must be faced. In familial relationships, the dignity of each member of the family becomes the project of the entire family to defend and to promote. Here, we discover the pathway to discipleship, to living the Gospel without compromise.

Catherine de Hueck Doherty reflected on the reason couples were marrying in her day. In answer to a survey, a majority explained that they wanted to marry because they wanted to be loved. The Servant of God quipped that if everyone wanted to be loved, who was going to do all the loving? Learning to love someone is a difficult battle. It requires every once of our humanity. We are defeated even before we step into the arena if we do not realize what we are fighting for - the battle that God wants us to win. God loves us because He knows the Love whose image and likeness we bear. In His love for us, He has chosen to do whatever it takes to save us from anything that might prevent us from responding to the greatness that He has called us to. This saving work of love cost Him death on the Cross and merely by believing in the love that He reveals by His passion and death we already begin to taste the freedom that we were created to know. He loved us to the end so that we might fight for the freedom to love in our lives -- to love with the fullness of our being, this is what is means to be fully human, fully alive. To live in any other way is not really to live at all, it is merely to exist. Our failure to fight the battle of love - to learn to be the one who loves - is seen today. In our day, most couples do not want to marry and live together in other kind of arrangements. If they would explain why they did not want to enter into the sacrament of marriage, it is likely that many would express a fear, the fear that if they entered marriage, they might not receive the love that they need for a meaningful life. They are afraid of being unhappy.

Baptized in a loving encounter with Christ and filled with the Holy Spirit, Christian discipleship confronts this fear. When we follow the Lord who loved us to the end, we stop worrying about our own needs and begin to be concerned about the needs of those who love. The love of Christ leads us out of self-occupation and into the battle to live for love, by love and in love.

Such a battle requires suffering all kinds of hardships, trials, renunciations, difficulties, because (as St. Teresa of Calcutta told us) one cannot love except at one's own expense. Similarly, it is not in our successfulness in character development and family relations, but in our faithfulness to love and truth that the holiness of the Holy Trinity shines forth in our families.

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