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October 14, 2009
Upcoming conference aims to renew the health an dintegrity
White On Saturday, Oct. 24, the archdiocesan Respect Life Office will sponsor our annual Gospel of Life Conference. Each year this gathering seeks to advance the teaching of Pope John Paul II’s great encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” (“The Gospel of Life”). It’s one of the highlights of our archdiocesan calendar. Happily, the organizers have worked to make the conference more and more accessible to Colorado’s growing Hispanic Catholic community.
Given the growing challenges to American family life, and the vital role played by the family in any healthy society, the theme of this year’s meeting is especially urgent: “Strengthening the family: Hope for the future.”
As usual, the speakers for this one-day event are outstanding. Professor Helen Alvaré—mother of three, consultor for the Pontifical Council for the Laity and a George Mason University law professor—will offer “A global perspective on the family.” Rev. Jorge Rodriguez, vice rector of St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, will speak on “What does God want from the family today?” And finally Dr. Jonathan Reyes, father of six, cofounder of the Augustine Institute, and now CEO of Denver’s Catholic Charities, will offer his thoughts on “What does a Christian Catholic family look like today?”
The family—by its very structure—is a rejection of fear and an expression of hope. Christian marriage is never a passive state. Love is active. It naturally creates new life. It thereby renews humanity and the face of the entire earth. It’s an echo, in human flesh, of the love within the Trinity itself.
Marriage, in turn, undergirds the family. The marital covenant provides the reassurance to spouses which enables them to surrender themselves fully to each other. In doing that, they become the most basic living cell of society. To put it another way, marriage is the foundation and guarantee of the family; and the family is the foundation and guarantee of society.
Nothing else but the family can serve as a cornerstone for human affairs—not government, not technology, not shared economic interests. This is why Pope John Paul II wrote, in his 1994 “Letter to Families,” that “No human society can run the risk of permissiveness on fundamental issues regarding the nature of marriage and the family. Such moral permissiveness (can only) damage the authentic requirements of peace and communion among people.”
It’s within the intimate, personal community of the family that a child, in observing his or her parents, first learns those basic values—like loyalty, honesty and selfless concern for others—which build up the character of the wider society. Truth is always most persuasive not when we read about it in a book or hear about it in a classroom, but when we see it, firsthand, incarnated in the actions of our parents.
Therefore the family is a kind of miracle. It safeguards our deepest sense of community, because within it the child grows up in a web of intimately connected rights and responsibilities to other people. The family also protects our unique, individual identity, because it shields the child with a mantle of privacy and personal devotion. And that’s where the power of marriage and the family lies. We most easily understand love when we—ourselves—are the fruit of our parents’ tenderness and fidelity. Love lived well in a family guided by faith is the unanswerable argument for God—and also for the worthiness of the human heart.
Every marriage that makes an act of trust in God and welcomes the gift of children is a powerful choice for life. And it’s to the glory of the Catholic faith that, in the face of all the hostility of the modern world and its attempts to redefine or undermine the family, the Church remains faithful to God’s will for marriage as the covenant of one man and one woman for their mutual salvation, and the salvation of their children.
There’s no more urgent need in American life than renewing the health and integrity of the family. And there’s no better place to start that work than the Gospel of Life Conference on Oct. 24. I’ll be there, and I hope to see you, as well.
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Oct. 15: St. John Vianney Theological Seminary board of trustees meeting, JPII Center (2:45 p.m.); Fifth annual Archbishop José H. Gomez Awards Dinner, Centro San Juan Diego (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 16: White Mass, Diocese of Phoenix, Diocesan Pastoral Center Chapel (6 p.m.)
Oct. 17: Mass and Institution of Lectors/Acolytes, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary, Christ the King Chapel (5:30 p.m.)
Oct. 18: Mass and confirmation, St. Ignatius of Loyola Parish, Denver (10 a.m.); Mass, Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception (6:30 p.m.)
Oct. 19: Mass, National Meeting for Black and Indian Mission Collection and Diocesan Native American Ministry, Redemptoris Mater Seminary Chapel (4:30 p.m.)
Oct. 20: Redemptoris Mater Seminary board of trustees meeting, Redemptoris Mater Seminary