Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Trinity Sunday

Father John J. Lombardi

What are the three Essential Facts You should Know About the Family? From the Bible to Pope John Paul's' "theology of the body," Catholicism has the answer. Answers are below, but first, this. 

A few weeks ago a man was passing thru the Grotto with a tour group. His friends told me he was a sociologist. Since I thought he was a "wise guy," I asked him, "What is the solution to our country's ills-especially family problems?" He said, immediately: "Couples who show affection to one another and spend time with their children." That immediately struck me as truth. Needed Truth. Just recently I was walking near the Grotto Cave and a Hispanic family, who were praying the Rosary, stopped me to ask for a blessing. So I prayed over them, and they bowed their heads. I blessed them and they beamed smiles. I talked with them and learned how happy they were to be there, as a family. Afterwards, I made my way down the hill, thankful for their witness. I stopped by the Corpus Christi Chapel as part of my duty, and I then saw all this same family kneeling on the chapel floor before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, praying. As a family. Three essential Facts you should know: 1)The family is the most important building block of civilization. Including America. 2)The family is under attack today 3)There are many graces.

Challenges to the Family Today: The ABC's today are.  Abortion and the Culture of Death, including pornography, euthanasia, and the unfortunate celebration of gore and violence in today's pop culture (which mitigates the soul's quest for Beauty). Satan means unraveling; God and Catholicism equal order. Whether it is Catholic Ireland or melting-pot-America, the family is challenged by these movements and, the Faith needs your help. Busybodyism-is the mentality which makes families split apart by over-activization without prayer or religious grounding, or not spending time together. The Sabbath Day today is almost gone. People are stressed, families are torn apart by multi tasking. Sports are taking over Sundays (on TV., at the rec league and even in some parishes). How can you be together if you can't get together? Contraception and Consumerism-this is the mentality of separating marital sexuality as God intended it- from procreation, making it into a marketable, choosable, disposable product. Consumerism is treating your spouse, children, yourself and family as an object appeasable by material things.

Pope John Paul in his encyclical, Familiaris Consortio ( The Role of the Family in the Modern World), described other ills today: false independence of spouses in married life; misconception of authority by parents and children: lack of transmission of values; divorce. The root of all these errors is false independence of self . We need be aware today in our own families (see #6).

Also, Catholic critics have noted assaults on: males-and fatherhood (emasculation, denigration of their proper roles); and on motherhood-- a degrading of the vocation of motherhood; lowering of birthrate.  Transcendent nature of family--as a domestic home of holiness-the family today is contradicted by unfriendly forces as a place of goods, services and security (witness gay adoption rights groups, etc), versus a spiritual home for saints.  Doctrine and catechesis are floundering today: parishes, schools and Catholic Colleges are not always faithfully transmitting the entire breadth and depth of the Faith to young people today.  Marriage and Family Preparation: are often controlled by progressivists and are watered down, and can't possibly meet the attacks on, and needs of, family today.

Redesigning of Family-government, homosexualist, multinational groups and agendas are changing people's thoughts and aspirations of families today. We see a dumbing-down of the Christian family-from genetic engineering to homsexualism's adoption program, thru subtle Hollywood agendas promoting broken and alternative families as a new norm. Watch out for anarchic architects against the family. Secularism which denigrates the supernatural element in public and official Christianity, and in traditional spirituality; it also challenges the Ten Commandments as basis for moral behavior. All these will be further attacked-so: will we whether the storm or wither in it?. 

Compromised Commitment: factors such as a "culture of divorce" to serial marriages and lack of stress of the sacrament of marriage-this has sent seismic, though subtle and invisible shock waves to youth: i.e.: don't commit or, if you do, you can always get out--of marriage, family or other obligations.  New ageism/Wicca-ism/spiritualism: these forces present a relativistic basis for spirituality, even sometimes for evil (witchcraft), and aim to alter the traditional family. "Alternative religion" is Satan's way of changing the family and souls. The Devil tempted Jesus so he will tempt us. New age and witchcraft are being mainstreamed in some governments and companies, even churches. Be on guard. Sexual Education: Some programs include illicit content under the "more is better" mentality. President's Bush's initiatives are better than most programs, but are attacked for content (abstinence as a guarantee for purity!). Full-blown sex-ed programs are destructive to children's innocence and the dignity of human sexuality, and family unity.  Drugs: are rampant and have destroyed many families, and will ravage more and fabrics of communities. This is pure evil.

Cohabitation: couples living together before or without marriage lends legitimacy to family disarray and God's order. Pornography: is a ten billion dollar a year industry, often supported by mainline companies; it is being airbrushed into acceptance. Relativism: questions absolutes in morality, religion, public social life, and is our worst sickness. When there are no standards, Catholicism is naturalized and neutralized, and paganism grows from this vacuum.

Graces.  Despite these myriad challenges there are many graces, and a reaction by new movements, such as third order groups of laypersons (Carmelites, Dominicans, etc.) which empower individuals and families. There are new family movements like home schooling, blossoming charismatic movements, and cell groups within parishes: all see the dire signs today and are responding in their own unique ways. Perhaps you can investigate one and join to be supported.

Catholic Theology of Family and Marriage: this is Catholicism's rich and helpful antidote to respond to the ills of today. From the Bible, Pope John Paul's theology of the body, this Feast of the Blessed Trinity (i.e., God-as-a-Divine-Family), study and immerse yourself in an alternative way of thinking--God's Way! Saints are growing in popularity-like possible Patrons to Family Crisis today-Thomas More and Mother Seton, who were both married, had hardships (deaths, martyrdom for More) struggles and challenges. Both heroically loved God, neighbor and Church. We need the same heroism today. Their heroic illustration can be our inspiration. Resources: there has been a "return to the sources and Tradition" in some parishes, printing companies, religious orders and schools, which has helped searching families and individuals find treasures of Catholic Wisdom. Look for holy, orthodox literature, films, saints' stories and Church teachings to grow in family and faith.

Catholic Fertility: Some Catholics are having larger families (larger than the 2.2 child-average)-thru Natural Family Planning (look for Dr. Janet Smith tapes), and so the witness of Faith: "Be fruitful and multiply". Standout Saintly people--like Archbishop Burke of St Louis who challenges pro-abortion politicians; to laypersons Mark and Muriel Forrest and their family initiatives, to other individuals and families who heroically, humbly live their Faith no matter what the "American Joneses" are doing, or because of anti-Catholic attacks or lack of leadership.  Role of laity-in its right way non-ordained persons can lead bishops and priests to holiness and growth out of crisis. The Bible and the Church for centuries, along with Vatican Council II, called for this. Unfortunately rightful lay leadership has been misinterpreted by liberalists (ie.,ordain women, let everyone preach, usurp church authority in harmful ways). But orthodox laypersons know they are needed.  Ecumenism: Catholics need an evangelical spirit and evangelical Christians can be complimented by our theology spirituality. As in the Pro-Life Movement, we can and should work together. The war is big

Top Things-What to Do:

  1. Love--is patient, kind , does not put on airs. (I Cor 13). Husbands, love your wives, wives love your husbands.  (Eph. 5: ). Over all these put on love (Col. 3:14). A missing ingredient in some families today is sacrifice--Heroic Love. Everyone will have to choose to love their spouse, child, parent, co-worker-esp. when romance and frivolity. So, then: choose to love and follow thru with your choice.  
  2. Sacraments--The Three C's of Spiritual Life are-Confession, Communion and Communication-thru-prayer. If you're not practicing these then you need to begin. Soon!...
  3. Doctrine-thru the Bible, Catechism and Church teachings you will cultivate the soul of yourself and family life. Know the Truth, Love and Pass the Truth on. 
  4. Family Support: Catholic families need spiritual solidarity with other striving spiritual families. Melting pot" is a recipe for disaster and code for dissolution of disciples. We can be a community without cliquishness, welcoming, es, but inevitably rooted in our Holy Faith.
  5. Prophetic awareness--cut out spurious, T.V., news, pop culture, undue influences which affect the unity of your family. We've become eon over by a contaminating culture. Become more Catholic. Don't be afraid to be counter-cultural!
  6. Time together-do not fail in this. Especially without entertainment. 
  7. Saints: married and individual saints all came from families. Some lived in harsh, hurtful situations. They were sinners, like us but, because of their heroic love, they became saints. They're in Heaven, You're not. They can help you.
  8. Read signs of times as Vatican II proposed-to know, defend against attacks on family life, Church and Catholic culture. The enemy you know is more beatable than the enemy you don't know.
  9. Forgivness: Everyone in a family needs to forgive. Bitterness should not be an option-don't hang on to anger and past incidents: Forgive-extend Jesus' forgiveness if it is too hard. 
  10. Christ as Center: Recently St Peter's Church in Libertytown burned. One person asked if I could go in as see some items saved fro the Church. It was the main Crucifix. Another said they lost a lot but still had it all-Jesus in the Eucharist. Christ is the center of their lives-how about yours? Focus on Christ Who fees and loves you.


Remember- the Father is Creator; Son is Redeemer; Holy Spirit is Sanctifier-relate and pray to all Three. The Doctrine of the Holy Trinity is the least-known-yet-most-important dogma of life and the Faith. Christians know a lot about the individuals Persons of the trinity, but can hardly begin to explain the Trinity. So; do people even have devotion to the Trinity. Is it taught? Here are some Theological tips on the Trinity -Three Divine Persons in One God--the unity does not blur the Trinity's unique persons; and the Three Persons do not split the unity. How can we penetrate the depths of these truths/mysteries? And what does it teach us about ourselves and communities? -Godhead is term for the unity of the Trinity, the "root" and "ground" of God, although not something extra. It expresses the unity before time, place, observation, God in his "primordial nature, His with-in-ness" How can you seek Him as He is before He ever reveled Himself to Israel, saints, or the Church?

Meditate upon this Trinitarian-musicological-image: The Father is like the conductor of a symphony, creatively leading with the score of music. The musical players form one symphony orchestra and are like the Son, an image of the Father's love and manifestation of the music score. The music is like the Spirit, the bond of the two. St Patrick, according to holy legend, used a shamrock to teach about God-the-Trinity. Some mock this mode today. However-it is essentially helpful, as the three leaf clover is one, so are the Three Divine Persons One in the Godhead. As the Faith spread in Ireland, so did the Church, and the Church spread culture and, indeed, civilization where there wasn't any. Thomas Cahill wrote a popular book about this, "How the Irish Saved Civilization." Now, in the European Union Parliament discussions on their foundational charter, any mention of Christian, let alone Catholic Culture, is seemingly anathematized. However: Pope John Paul and others are challenging this. The banishment from God does not stop on European shores. In Los Angeles, the same judge who ruled that partial birth abortion could now, again, be legalized, has ruled that a small cross, on the Los Angeles County seal flag, be removed after the ACLU complained. Culture preaches forgetfulness, even banishment of God. Our Church and Catholics should preach and teach the saving acts of God, especially as the Most Adorable Trinity. Think about it: How rich, mysterious and mystical He is, and how impoverished and crass we are without Him.

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi