The Archbishop of Quebec, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, said last week that the family is a child's first educator in the values of love and life. He noted that it is also primarily responsible for transmitting the faith to children, amidst today’s culture that often seeks to attack the basic unit of society.
In a speech delivered on his behalf by Auxiliary Bishop Cyprien Gérald Lacroix to the attendees of the 2nd International Congress of Families held in Lima on January 22-24, the cardinal explained that traditional marriage is under pressure from "sometimes openly anti-Christian ideologies" that push "states to make laws redefining the meaning of marriage, procreation, parenthood and the family.” He added that these groups fail to consider “the fundamental anthropological realities that make up human relations."
He then turned to the defense of life and explained why the Catholic Church rejects "artificial means of contraception. The Church's “refusal to morally ratify the use of (contraception) contrasts with the contemporary mindset that promotes the use of all available techniques to perform the marital act without the 'risk' of procreation,” he explained.
“Whereas the wisdom of the Church, founded on revelation, unites love, marriage and life, contemporary culture tends to separate them on behalf of an unabashed assertion of individual freedom.”
According to the cardinal, Bishop Lacroix said, "The first value that we must stress is faith as a personal encounter with Christ, which leads to a covenant that encompasses all dimensions of one’s being, including married love. As this love is elevated to the dignity of a sacrament by an act of theological faith, a serious preparation for marriage through an authentic education in sacramental love is clearly important.”
"It is in this light that the couple can more easily reach the balance between erotic love and generous and fruitful charity,” the bishop continued. “If they are animated by a profound theological life, they will learn to develop the human virtues that are essential for marriage and family life: prudence, self-control, dialogue and mutual forgiveness, patience and conjugal chastity.”
Thus, he continued, "the personal development of these virtues will improve their relationships and will create especially healthy educational environments, colored by authentic love, trust, tenderness, filial piety, respect and openness towards others. All these virtues and attitudes, penetrated by the Spirit of God, become mediations of the gift that Christ makes of Himself to the domestic Church, to make her His faithful and fruitful bride at the service of Love and Life. In essence, the educational atmosphere of a Christian family depends on a vocational culture which has as its declared aim, the perfection of love in all states of life and in all circumstances thanks to the living ideal cultivated by the Holy Family.”
According to Cardinal Ouellet, “notwithstanding current difficulties, the family is the most precious inheritance of the Christian tradition, 'the true heritage of mankind', the first school of human and ecclesial communion. However, we must recognize that its educational mission is currently disabled due, for sure, to lack of support in the dominant culture, but also due to a lack of a profound appropriation of its grace and values."
It is necessary, he said, that the ministry of the Church have "a stronger commitment to the new evangelization of families, but also a new evangelization from families who have found Christ."
"The family, the domestic church that evangelizes, provides a formation for communion and the apostolate. As for the values of conjugal love and the virtues go with it, they must be rediscovered, because under the pressure of the dominant culture, hedonism and relativism, their source and their moral and spiritual articulation are not recognized. It matters that we redouble efforts to discover and rediscover the intrinsic link between love, life, spiritual fertility and all the virtues that ensure the growth and stability of families against enemy forces.”
Cardinal Ouellet also stressed that "promoting a spirituality proper to marriage and the family, founded upon the ecclesial and social value of the family, should contribute more to forming consciences, to boosting the educational mission of parents and to multiplying apostolic, cultural and political initiatives that defend the rights of the family and protect its acquisitions."
In conclusion, he said, "Holding high the banner of the family is a sign of the times and is a great need in the world today.
“Enhancing its educational mission at its deepest identity is not only an urgent task in the “aggiornamento” (bringing up to date) of the Church, but also the “sine qua non” (essential condition) for ensuring the fidelity of the Church to its mission and a future for our civilization."
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