8/1/2014 2:07:00 PM Family: School of Love and Responsibility
Fr. Theodore Lange
MOUNT ANGEL — Everyone needs love. In God's design, the beginning of the human experience of love is the family. The family is a great gift! The foundation of the family is the complimentary self-offering love of husband and wife. In simple terms: to wake-up and say “how can I better serve my wife and children or grand children today?” “How can I be like Jesus and wash the feet of those I love (cf. Jn 13:5f) and then give my life so that they may have life and have if more fully (cf. Jn 10:10)?” Then the “secret” is to be docile and obedient to the simple ways you are called to joyfully live self-sacrificing love each day. To create families of love and responsibility their first is a joyful personal conversion to Jesus Christ.
Personal repentance and conversion is the New Evangelization and how a family becomes a school, or even better, a home of love and responsibility. John the Baptist and Jesus began their public ministries by calling the people to repentance (cf. Mt 3:2; 4:17) and so with heroic confidence in the Mercy and Grace of God we are called to repentance and conversion. When we focus on Jesus our vision becomes clear as when we put glasses on with the correct prescription. With the clear vision Jesus gives us, he can lead our families into the grace of His Most Sacred Heart. Conversion is not a magic trick. It is intentional growth in love, surrender, obedience, and virtue while we are open to the power of the Holy Spirit to re-create us by the grace of the Blood of Jesus: by his wounds you have been healed (1 Pt 2:24). The key is being intentional in fostering love, mercy, acceptance, courage, strength, support, and affirmation in the midst of the daily temptations to selfishness, pride, vanity, anger, stress, and resentment.
When we fall in love with Jesus, we are changed by the personal Love we encounter and the fact that we are created by Love, for love and to love becomes something we experience and then can share with our wife and family. It may seem simplistic, yet, truth and love are simple and sin and the world are complicated.
Thus the family becoming a school of love and responsibility is really the fruit of a deep and authentic repentance and conversion which urges us on (cf. 2 Cor 2:14) always seek to serve and not to be served (cf . Mt 20:28). What a school! What a call to prayer!
By looking at Jesus and being open to the demands of self-offering love, joy enters the family as we will be those who “have come to know and believe in the great love that God has for us” (cf. 1 Jn 1:14) and then seek to responsibly live that love in the context of the simple duties of daily family life by keeping Christ at the center of our lives and families.
The writer, a formation director at Mount Angel Seminary, attained a sacred theology bachelor’s degree from the Gregorian University in Rome in 2007. He has served in parishes in western Oregon.