I. Restoration Of The Family

Church. Our act of returning to Him, of allowing Him to purify, convert, and transform us, is the renewal at the most intimate level, from which we, through good Christian families can go out and help save souls and change the world in the process. 

"Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread of them: for it is the LORD your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       -Deuteronomy 31:6


      The devil’s greatest and most effective weapon is not lies, not hate, not violence, but discouragement. If you don’t think it’s that effective, look around. There’s a lot about the state of the family, the state of the Church, and the state of the culture wherein one could easily become discouraged. It’s too hard, we’re not worthy, we couldn’t even make a dent in draining the Cesspool that we’re all drowning in. The evil one hopes this will cause us not even to try, we surrender, do nothing, and allow evil to proliferate our homes, churches, and once-Christian culture. What’s the antidote? The answer is in the root of the word itself. For to overcome discouragement, which is the greatest impediment to much needed action, of both prayer and work, we need encouragement. Why do you think most efforts to overcome substance abuses and addictions, be it drugs, alcohol, food, or pornography, are not effective unless there is that social component, that sense of accountability, support, and encouragement from another.

      The Catholic Church has always recognized this social component, as for one, in the social nature of sin, wherein if one member of the Body of Christ sins, it affects the entire Church. That’s why the Sacrament of Reconciliation includes a public dimension, wherein we seek forgiveness from God and our fellow men so that we can return to communion with our fellow Christians. It’s also why one of the two pillars of Catholic Social Teaching (CST) is solidarity, which means we’re not just in it for ourselves, it’s not just about “me & Jesus”, and that we should help encourage our fellow men. Though the term solidarity is most often used in a more economic sense by so-called Peace & Justice Catholics, what I believe matters most to God, is not mere physical comfort, but getting as many souls to heaven as possible, a goal that is often lacking or non-existent in many, if not most, Catholic social justice efforts. Too often Catholic charities and social justice organizations have become little more than NGO’s (Non-Governmental Organizations) which perform functions on behalf of governments, without concern for the eternal soul, and without even the slightest mention of Christ.

      The solidarity that is most needed today, to renew the face of the earth, is not economic, it is the encouragement of persons, families, and parishes, to live authentic lives of fidelity, humility, obedience to the teachings of Christ so that souls will be reclaimed for Christ. This is why the second pillar of CST is subsidiarity, wherein the solutions to the societal ills are to be solved by the smallest unit, and at the most intimate level-meaning the family. The great G.K. Chesterton won an essay contest about the greatest problem in the world with an inciteful two word essay: “I am”. For all the sin, depravity, hate, and divisions do not begin “out there” in the culture, but within the human heart. Without a God-centered family, these ills will incubate and eventually infect an entire society. Thus preventing the pollution of the culture and actually reversing this troubling trend requires the person and the family turning their faces back to God. Faithful families that attend Mass, that joyfully live out their faith, that genuinely love and care for other families in the parish encourage other families, by their fellowship and by their witness to do the same. This fruitful combination of solidarity and subsidiarity can turn inactive Catholics into active Catholics, active Catholics into

zealous Catholics, and gives discouraged Catholics the courage and encouragement to get off the sidelines and into the game and be a part of the great coming victory of Christ.

        Back in the day when we were a truly Christian culture, the culture itself provided encouragement to families and individuals to live in accordance with the principles if the gospel. The reason Catholic Social Teaching didn’t really come into existence until 1891 is because it wasn’t needed, as the principles of our faith were an integral part of the culture – until the so-called Enlightenment. Prior to the advance of modernism, if the citizens of Christendom simply went with the flow of culture, they would tend to avoid sin and lead lives of relative holiness. Then people had an awareness and acknowledgement of sin, and the sense of shame became a deterrent to avoid occasions of sin. Sadly today we have none of these, which makes this organic family-first encouragement, by their witness and their friendship, all the more necessary. Today if we simply go along with the culture we place our eternal souls and those of our families in mortal danger. We need to equip ourselves and our children to stand up to the culture, not fit in with it, and become the same type of attractive, counter-cultural witnesses that formed the Early Church and changed the cultures of every pagan society she touched from Corinth to Ephesus from Thessalonica to the Philippines, or maybe it was Philippa.   But more, we need to speak up, and act, consistent with our God-given authority and station in life, to help others avoid the near and remote occasions of sin.

      How can mere faithful families provide encouragement to others and transform the world? Exactly the same way they did in the years and centuries after Christ. By opening our hearts and homes to others, by looking outward for the good of the other, exemplifying the truth, beauty, and goodness of our lives, as a Christian family in the noblest of all callings, in contradiction to the sin and secularism that has thrust the family into virtual ruin. By being joyful, witnesses of the love of Christ, attracting others by our example, by teaching with charity in the spirit of fraternal correction, supporting, and encouraging other families to live their faith fully and completely, and otherwise by becoming Christian support groups in a most un-Christian world. In this way, in what used to be just being part of a Christian community, may be enough in a self-centered, narcissistic, disengaged culture which has lost sight of or rejected what it means to simply be a Christian. It’s nothing heroic, just that simple but sometimes scary first step, which if taken, when coupled with the grace of God, and enlivened by His Holy Spirit, can change hearts and in time the course of civilizations.

       And there is much about which to be encouraged. For “great things” are truly happening across the country, in pockets, and often under the mainstream radar. Look at the rise of vocations to the priesthood, with zealous, faithful, manly men entering the priesthood at a time when they are clearly not doing it for power, prestige or position in the culture. Look too to the tremendous number of holy, joyful, dynamic women entering orthodox, vibrant, young religious orders, who provide a magnetic, attractive alternative to the unfulfilled, hedonistic, narcissistic model that our secular society promotes and values.  Look also to the growth of the Catholic Church in the former Bible Belt and elsewhere, as those protestants (including many ministers themselves) who honestly search for the truth find the fullness of it in the Catholic Church. Look also to the unlikely and seemingly impossible conversions, and the great number of individuals and families who put God and doing His will a top priority. Look finally, or first from a cause and effect perspective, to the rise of Eucharistic Adoration, Corpus Christi Processions, Daily Communicants, frequent penances, and an overall reuniting of the faithful to the vine that is Christ, centered on the Eucharistic Heart of Jesus. The great graces we are just beginning to see flow from the most Merciful, most Sacred Heart of our Savior, which waits for us in the golden throne of the tabernacle of every Catholic




"Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!"

-Psalm 31:24