By Kaelanne Jordan
Archbishop Jason Gordon has described the family as the “load-bearing wall” of civilisation, emphasising that if family is destroyed, the whole civilisation “goes with it”.
“And when you look and you see now, the greatest assault now is on the family,” the Archbishop said during his talk for the Catholic Charismatic Renewal’s Conference (Friday, January 6–8).
The Archbishop’s presentation on Saturday 7 was titled ‘Called to be a Holy Family, a Holy Church, and a Holy Nation’.
He recalled that during his time as a priest in the Gonzales community, one young rapper opined that the future of the nation is in the village. As the village goes, so the nation goes.
The Archbishop underscored that the future of the village is in the family, and as the family goes, so the village goes, so the nation goes.
“And that’s why we have to see the family not just as a unit we belong to, like a sociological unit that we happen to live in the same house….but we have to see the family as the place where God intends holiness will come forth …” Archbishop Gordon said.
He emphasised it is in the family where persons learn how to practise love, forgiveness, deep spirituality and how to give.
Pope John Paul II, Archbishop Gordon outlined, called the family a community of life and love because when a family is practising love daily, that family becomes “excellent” in that practice of love.
Archbishop Gordon shared a story of a friend who complained of praying for patience, only to feel constantly frustrated. “I say listen to me, I will never pray for patience because what God does is give you the opportunity to exercise it….you don’t get an infused grace for patience coming into you, and it’s the same thing with love. The family is a community of love because you have excellent opportunities every day to exercise love,” the Archbishop said.
Anyone who is not giving themselves to the others in the family is someone who is ‘chinksing’. “And if you ‘chinksing’, you becoming a worse human being and you not moving to sanctity, to grace, to life, to love. Your heart is not expanding and growing bigger and you’re not growing into the person God wants you to become,” the Archbishop explained.
Holiness, he underscored, is wanting to give ourselves away to God and each other. He reminded that God is a super-abundant God and therefore everyone has to be super-abundant in our generosity to God and to each other.
“When in the family everybody looking to see what everybody else doing and if they doing A, well I only doing -A…. there’s no life and there’s no love. There’s no holiness. And in fact, I will say to you, that’s a classic definition of hell,” Archbishop Gordon said.
Reiterating that we are all called to be holy, the Archbishop said that the call to sanctity is not a call to leave everything and join a monastery. Rather, it’s a call to live who you are as a domestic Church every single day, consciously and with commitment.
It is the little things in the family, in the everydayness of the family, even in the irritations and vexations of family that we can choose to raise our mind and heart to God. “And that’s a sacrifice,” the Archbishop said. A sacrifice, he said, is giving up something good for something better. He observed sacrifice is a “bad word” these days, but it’s a “great word” at the heart of the priesthood.
“Every time you come to Mass, the priest says ‘Pray sisters and brothers that my sacrifice and yours may be acceptable to God, the almighty Father’…. that is the moment in the Mass when the little sacrifices you’ve made all week, you bring them into that moment. His sacrifice is what’s happening on this altar, your sacrifice is what has been happening on the altar of your family for the week…” Archbishop Gordon said.
He reminded faithful that the irritations within the family that we are trying to get rid of to become holy, “[what] we don’t understand is that it is through these irritations that we will become holy.”
“That don’t mean you have to give other people opportunities for holiness. Reduce their opportunities, that’s your sacrifice too,” Archbishop Gordon said.
He believed when faithful get accustomed to offering everything as a living sacrifice to God then we become accustomed to discerning the will of God in the moment. When that happens, “we become holy, holy people.”
The three-day conference saw other presentations, among them Artherly Nicholas’ ‘Called out of Darkness to live in His wonderful light’ (1 Pt 2:9b), Deborah de Rosia’s ‘Once you were a non-people, now you are God’s people’ (1 Pt 2:10) and a youth session led by the People of Praise Youth on Sunday ‘Chosen to sing the praises of God’.