The Church and the Gospel on the Family: Implications in the Goan context -Fr. Kennet B Teles, Director, DFSC

Introduction

The good news of divine love is to be proclaimed to all those personally living this basic human experience of couples and of a communion open to the gift of children, which is the family community. The teachings of the faith on marriage is to be presented in an articulate and efficacious manner, so that it might reach hearts and transform them in accordance with God’s will, made manifest in Jesus Christ.

The citation of biblical sources on marriage and family in this document are essential references only. The same is true for documentation from the Magisterium which is limited to that of a universal character, including some texts from the Pontifical Council for the Family. It will be left to the bishop-participants at the synod to cite documents from their own episcopal assemblies.

In every age, and in the many different cultures, the teaching of the Pastors has been clear nor has there been lacking the concrete testimony of believers — men and women — in very diverse circumstances who have lived the Gospel of the family as an inestimable gift for their life and their children. The commitment for the next Extraordinary Synod is inspired and sustained by the desire to communicate this message with greater incisiveness, in the hope that “the treasure of revelation, entrusted to the Church, more and more fill the hearts of each person” (DV, 26).

The Plan of God, Creator and Redeemer

The beauty of the biblical message on the family has its roots in the creation of man and woman, both made in the image and likeness of God (cf. Gen 1:24-31; 2:4-25). Bound together by an indissoluble sacramental bond, those who are married experience the beauty of love, fatherhood, motherhood, and the supreme dignity of participating in this way in the creative work of God.

In the gift of the fruit of their union, they assume the responsibility of raising and educating other persons for the future of humankind. Through procreation, man and woman fulfill in faith the vocation of being God’s collaborators in the protection of creation and the growth of the human family.

Blessed Pope John Paul II commented on this aspect in Familiaris consortio: “God created man in his own image and likeness (cf. Gen 1:26, 27): calling him to existence through love, he called him at the same time for love. God is love (cf. 1 Jn 4:8) and in himself he lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in his own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion (Gaudium et spes, 12). Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (FC, 11).

The plan of God the creator, which was disrupted by original sin (cf. Gen 3:1-24), has revealed itself throughout history in the events of the chosen people up to the fullness of time, when, with the incarnation of the Son of God, not only was the divine will for salvation confirmed, but also the redemption offering the grace to follow this same will.

The Son of God, the Word made flesh (cf. Jn 1:14) in the womb of the Virgin Mother, lived and grew up in the family of Nazareth and participated at the wedding at Cana, where he added importance to the festivities with the first of his “signs” (cf. Jn 2:1-11). In joy, he welcomed his reception in the families of his disciples (cf. Mk 1:29-31; 2:13-17) and consoled the bereaved family of his friends in Bethany (cf. Lk 10:38- 42; Jn 11:1-44 ).

Jesus Christ restored the beauty of matrimony, proposing once again the one plan of God which was abandoned because of the hardness of the human heart, even within the tradition of the people of Israel (cf. Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mk 10:1-12; Lk 16:18). Returning to the beginning, Jesus taught the unity and faithfulness of the husband and wife, refuting the practice of repudiation and adultery.

Precisely through the extraordinary beauty of human love — already celebrated in a heightened manner inspired by the Song of Songs, and the bond of marriage called for and defended by the prophets like Hosea (cf. Hosea 1:2, 3.3) and Malachi (cf. Mal 2:13-16) — , Jesus affirmed the original dignity of the married love of man and woman.

The Church’s Teaching on the Family

Even in the early Christian community the family appeared as the “domestic church” (cf. CCC, 1655): In the so-called “family canons” of the Apostolic letters of the New Testament, the great family of the ancient world is identified as the place of a profound solidarity between husbands and wives, between parents and children, and between the wealthy and the poor (cf. Eph 5:21-6:9; Col 3:18-4:1; 1 Tim2:8-15; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Pt 2:13-3:7; cf. also the Letter to Philemon). In particular, the Letter to the Ephesians recognized the nuptial love between man and woman as “the great mystery”, making present in the world the love of Christ and the Church (cf. Eph 5:31-32 ).

Over the centuries, especially in modern times to the present, the Church has not failed to continually teach and develop her doctrine on the family and marriage which founded her. One of its highest expressions has been proposed by the Second Vatican Council in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, which, in treating certain pressing problems, dedicated an entire chapter to the promotion of the dignity of marriage and the family, as seen in the description of their value for the constitution of society: “the family, in which the various generations come together and help one another grow wiser and harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of social life, is the very foundation of society” (GS, 52). Particularly striking is its appeal for a Christ-centered spirituality in the spouses’ life of faith: “Let the spouses themselves, made to the image of the living God and enjoying the authentic dignity of persons, be joined to one another in equal affection, harmony of mind and the work of mutual sanctification. Thus, following Christ who is the principle of life, by the sacrifices and joys of their vocation and through their faithful love, married people can become witnesses of the mystery of love which the Lord revealed to the world by his dying and his rising up to life again”(GS, 52 ).

After the Second Vatican Council, the successors of St. Peter enriched this teaching on marriage and the family, especially Pope Paul VI with the Enyclical Humanae vitae, which offers specific principles and guidelines. Subsequently, in his Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris consortioPope John Paul II insisted on proposing the divine plan in the basic truths of married love and the family: “The only ‘place’ in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage, the covenant of conjugal love freely and consciously chosen, whereby man and woman accept the intimate community of life and love willed by God himself (cf. Gaudium et spes, 48) which only in this light manifests its true meaning. The institution of marriage is not an undue interference by society or authority, nor the extrinsic imposition of a form. Rather it is an interior requirement of the covenant of conjugal love which is publicly affirmed as unique and exclusive, in order to live in complete fidelity to the plan of God, the Creator. A person’s freedom, far from being restricted by this fidelity, is secured against every form of subjectivism or relativism and is made a sharer in creative Wisdom” (FC, 11).

The Catechism of the Catholic Church gathers together the fundamental aspects of this teaching: “The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman form with each other an intimate communion of life and love, has been founded and endowed with its own special laws by the Creator. By its very nature it is ordered to the good of the couple, as well as to the generation and education of children. Christ the Lord raised marriage between the baptized to the dignity of a sacrament [cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Gaudium et spes, 48; Code of Canon Law, 1055, 1]”(CCC 1660).

The doctrine presented in the Catechism touches on both theological principles and moral behaviours, developed under two separate headings: The Sacrament of Matrimony (nos. 1601-1658) and The Sixth Commandment (nos. 2331-2391). An attentive reading of these sections of the Catechism provides an updated understanding of the doctrine of faith, which supports the Church’s work in the face of modern-day challenges. The Church’s pastoral ministry finds inspiration in the truth of marriage viewed as part of the plan of God, who created man and woman and, in the fullness of time, revealed in Jesus the completeness of spousal love elevated to the level of sacrament. Christian marriage founded on consensus is also endowed with its own effects such as the goods and duties of the spouses. At the same time, marriage is not immune from the effects of sin (cf. Gen 3:1-24), which can cause deep wounds and even abuses to the dignity of the sacrament.

The recent encyclical of Pope Francis, Lumen fidei, speaks of the family in the context of a reflection on how faith reveals “just how firm the bonds between people can be when God is present in their midst” (LF, 50). “The first setting in which faith enlightens the human city is the family. I think first and foremost of the stable union of man and woman in marriage. This union is born of their love, as a sign and presence of God’s own love, and of the acknowledgment and acceptance of the goodness of sexual differentiation, whereby spouses can become one flesh (cf. Gen 2:24) and are enabled to give birth to a new life, a manifestation of the Creator’s goodness, wisdom and loving plan. Grounded in this love, a man and a woman can promise each other mutual love in a gesture which engages their entire lives and mirrors many features of faith. Promising love for ever is possible when we perceive a plan bigger than our own ideas and undertakings, a plan which sustains us and enables us to surrender our future entirely to the one we love” (LF, 52). “Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness” ( LF, 53).

“…the treasure of revelation, entrusted to the Church, more and more fill the hearts of each person” (DV, 26).

The Plan of God, Creator and Redeemer

  • Gen 1:24-31; 2:4-25 (creation account)
  • Gaudium et spes, 12 (love and communion)
  • Familiaris Consortio, 11 (Love: vocation of every human being)
  • Gen 3:1-24 (sin)
  • Jn 1:14 (Word made flesh)
  • Mt 5:31-32; 19:3-12; Mk 10:1-12; Lk 16:18 (restored plan of God)
  • Song of Songs; Hosea 1:2, 3.3; Mal 2:13-16 (Extraordinary beauty of human love)

The Church’s Teaching on the Family

  • CCC 1365 (Domestic Church)
  • GS 52 (Dignity of marriage and family)
  • GS 48 (Conjugal love)
  • FC 17 (tasks of a family)
  • Code of Canon Law, 1055, 1
  • CCC 1601-1660 (Sacrament of matrimony)
  • CCC 2331-2391 (The Sixth commandment)
  • LF, 50-53 (Firmness of bonds when God is present)

Adaptation in the Goan Context

  • Logn Sonvskarak Toyari: Faith filled marriages
  • NFP: Living in tune with God’s plan for marriage
  • Pre-Baptismal Preparation (In Pregnancy)-Marriage Enrichment
  • Baby Shower-Rite for Blessings in Pregnancy
  • Parish Family Service Cells: Means to offer help to spousal couples in their struggles of life

Implications in the Goan Context

  • Fidelity and Faithfulness: Less Separation
  • Family In tune with the plan of God/teachings of the Church: Thwarting the plan of evil
  • Happy, Healthy and Holy Family life: God centred
  • Children growing up with Divine and Human knowledge, Grace and  fear of God: Better society

Parish Response to the Questionnaire

Questions

  1. The Diffusion of the Teachings on the Family in Sacred Scripture and the Church’s Magisterium

People are unaware of the teachings of the church. Seriousness for the Church teaching is not seen and no efforts are made by the couples.

Goan Context: What can we do?

  • Quote the teachings of the Church/Teaching of the Magisterium in our Liturgy, Preaching, in our Pastoral Bulletin.
  • Eg. Eph 3:14-15…FC
  1. Marriage according to the Natural Law

The idea of the natural law of marriage is slowly deteriorating with the coming of gay and homosexual rights.

 Goan Context: What can we do?

  • Marriage: Sacredness, Called to Holiness, Covenant 
  • Personhood to Object hood: Division of Body and Soul 

The Sacrament of Matrimony (CCC 1601-1658)

I.                   MARRIAGE IN GOD’S PLAN
            Marriage in the order of creation (1603-05)
Marriage under the regime of sin (1606-08)
Marriage under the pedagogy of the Law (1609-11)
Marriage in the Lord (1612-17)
Virginity for the sake of the Kingdom (1618-20)

II.                THE CELEBRATION OF MARRIAGE (1621-24)
III.             MATRIMONIAL CONSENT (1625-32)
            Mixed marriages and disparity of cult (1633-37)
IV.              THE EFFECTS OF THE SACRAMENT OF MATRIMONY
            The marriage bond (1639-40)
The grace of the sacrament of Matrimony (1641-42)
V.                 THE GOODS AND REQUIREMENTS OF CONJUGAL LOVE (1643)
            The unity and indissolubility of marriage (1644-45)
The fidelity of conjugal love (1646-51)
The openness to fertility (1652-54)
VI.              THE DOMESTIC CHURCH (1655-58)
IN BRIEF (1659-66)

Sin against the sixth Commandment (2331-91)
I.                   “MALE AND FEMALE HE CREATED THEM . . .”
II.                THE VOCATION TO CHASTITY
The integrity of the person
The integrality of the gift of self
The various forms of chastity
Offenses against chastity
Chastity and homosexuality

III.             THE LOVE OF HUSBAND AND WIFE
                        Conjugal fidelity
The fecundity of marriage
The gift of a child
IV.              OFFENSES AGAINST THE DIGNITY OF MARRIAGE
                        Adultery
Other offenses against the dignity of marriage
3. The Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization

  1. Much to be desired and the couples are not familiarized with the post-conciliar teaching of the Church. The couples preparing to get married are more focused on the other preparations and many couples attend the marriage formation course out of compulsion.
  2. Goan Context: What can we do?

 

  • Marriage Preparation Course
  • Logn Sonvskarak  Toyari-its contents are as follows:

 

1.      Povitr Pustok Ugddum-ia
–      Bible is for Catholics
–      Povitr Pustokantlo Utaro (Konkani/English)
–      Deva Utra Onnbhovan: Jezu Dixa Jivitan

2.      Mis Somzun Gheum-ia

–      Misache Bhettek Toyari (Konkani/English)

–      Misant Vantto Gheum-ia (Konkani/English)
3.      Amche Sonvskar ani Amchem Jivit

4.      Dha Updes ani Ghorabik Jivit
5.      Somudayak Mon Appnaum-ia ani Jieum-ia

6. Somudaychi Zomat

Marriage Preparation Questionnaire (Konkani/English)

Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary

 

  • Marriage Enrichment

 

 

  1. Blessing of Pregnant Women
  2. Pre-Baptismal Preparation
  3. Sessions on invitation
    1. Marital Chastity
    2. The Beauty of NFP
    3. Openness to Life
    4. Understanding each other
    5. In-laws at the crossroads
    6. Teaching on CCC/Scripture regarding Family Life
  1. The Pastoral Care of the Family in Evangelization….

 

  • With the coming of modern technology, it has become difficult to transmit the faith.
  • Goan Context: What can we do?

 

  1. Encourage organizing / participating in different seminars, retreats and faith formation activities.
  2. Use of Modern Technology in transmission of Faith
  3. A Few Catholic Websites
    1. www.familyservicecentregoa.org
    2. www.vatican.va
    3. www.ewtn.com
    4. www. fathersofmercy.com/catholic-websites/
    5. www.cin.org
    6. http://www.catholic.org/saints/stindex.php
    7. http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/Saints/patrons.aspx
    8. www.cath.com
    9. www.catholicity.com/links/
    10. http://www.catholicsearch.net/
    11. http://www.catholic.org/directory/
    12. http://www.everythingcatholic.com/
    13. www.catholic.net
    14. Diocesan Family Service Centre Facebook Page
    15. www.familyservicecentregoa.org

4.      Pastoral Care in Certain Difficult Marital Situations
Cohabitation, Baptised couples living  in  irregular situations is becoming a pastoral reality. Are receiving Holy Communion?

Goan Context: What can we do?

  • Counselling
  • Directed for Legal Help
  • PFSC to pick up these people for referral
  • Confession before Sunday Mass
  • Consciousness of celebrating the Sacrament of Healing

7.      The Openness of the Married Couple to Life

a)      Knowledge of Humanae Vitae on responsible parenthood.

                                i.             Are they aware that use of artificial methods of family planning is morally wrong and goes against the marital vows?
                              ii.            What is the mind of the faithful on this topic?
                            iii.            Is this moral teaching accepted?
                             iv.            What aspects pose the most difficulties in a large majority of couple’s accepting this teaching?
                               v.            What natural methods are promoted by the Diocese to help spouses put into practice the teachings of Humanae Vitae?
                             vi.            Approximate a percentage following the same? If not following. The reasons thereof.

Facts:

  • 116 countries of the World are dying….(Replacement level less than 2.1)
  • India 2.41
  • Goa 1.6
  • 48% Christians using Contraception in Goa (Goa Draft Population Policy 2007)

Goan Context: What can we do?

  • Many people use contraceptives without knowing that it is morally wrong. But there are still many more that use artificial methods knowing that they are wrong and yet receive communion without confessing. Very few people use NFP which is approved by the church. 
  • Adequate knowledge generally not there.
  • Are children burden or riches?
  • Most say that the Church’s teachings in this regard are very difficult to follow. And to add to that, many priests also say its o.k. to use contraceptives if you can’t “control”. This needs to be corrected
  • HV 10: Married love, therefore, requires of husband and wife the full awareness of their obligations in the matter of responsible parenthood”
  • HV 28: Priests… “to spell out clearly and completely the Church’s teaching on marriage. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the magisterium of the Church”.

7. The Openness of the Married Couple to Life

d)      How do you propose that Natural Family Planning be propagated in our Diocese ? How can a more open attitude towards having children be fostered? How can an increase in births be promoted?

Goan Context: What can we do?

  • Parish Family Service Cell (Training of Old Goa, Chandor and Aldona over)
  • Kuttumbache Sevek Adhari III Course on for Sanguem and Quepem Deanery
  • At least 2 NFP teachers in every PARISH BY DEC 2016
  • Confession before Sunday Masses

8.      The Relationship Between the Family and the Person

a)      What critical situations in the family today can obstruct a person’s encounter with Christ?

b)      To what extent do the many crises of faith which people can experience affect family life?

9.      Other Challenges and Proposals

a)      What other challenges or proposals related to the topics in the above questions do you consider urgent and useful to treat?

b)      Do you think starting of a Parish Family Service Cell will be useful to deal with the problems mentioned above?

Goan Context: What can we do?

  • Crave for riches, Poverty, Lack of Faith, Lack of Teachings, Immoral way of living (Sanguem).
  • Broken families, divorce, unfaithfulness between spouses , use of contraceptives, very harsh and stringent rules in the family can obstruct a person’s encounter with Christ (Betalbatim).
  • Peer pressure, media, no family dialogue, no family prayer, increase in social functions (Cansaulim).
  • Inadequate faith, substance abuse, alcoholism, wife-abusing, separation, divorce, polygamy, addiction, broken family, financial insecurity, families with disparity of cult (Moira).
  • Faith Formation for Spouses. (Margao).
  • Firmness about the Church’s teaching that contraceptives are wrong and can destroy families. (Arambol)
  • NFP is the need of the hour. (Betalbatim).
  • Awareness as the family as the “domestic Church” (Cansaulim).
  • Parents should be encouraged to have more than two children. (Ribandar)
  • Start the training of the Parish Family Service Cell. (Aldona)

 

What can the Religious (Priests, Brothers and Sisters) do to help in the Goan Context?

  • Be a resource person in the Teachings of the Church
  • Be a resource person in NFP
  • Be a resource person in the difficult times of the family
  • Be a resource person in the PFSC
  • Be a resource person in SCC meetings
  • Be a resource person in Marriage Preparation and marriage enrichment

 

HOW TO START YOUR PARISH FAMILY SERVICE CELL (PFSC)

  1. Choose a Representative Spousal Couple, preferably, from each of your Somudai/Vaddo/Sector. Also choose a Medical Doctor, a Nurse, a Religious Sister and a Priest (if there are assistants/other religious priests in your Parish) from your Parish, to be on the PFSC. Even if both the spouses can’t attend together, it would do, provided they share the matter learnt from the sessions with their spouse.   
  2. Once this selection is done, you are requested to intimate us so that we can send our team to conduct a Brain Storming session on ‘Why the need of Parish Family Service Cell (PFSC)’.
  3. The second session for the PFSC will be listing out its tasks through a session ‘Introduction to Parish Family Service Cells’. In this, the members will be made well versed in the tasks of the PFSC.
  4. Following this, the DFSC will inaugurate the PFSC at the hands of the Episcopal Vicar, wherein the members will take a pledge accordingly.
  5. The members then will be invited for a FAMILY ANIMATORS TRAINING SESSION (ToT) called Kuttumb Seveche Adhari or KSA, at the DEANERY level (consisting of five sessions) so they are well equipped to manage their PFSC (just like Liturgical animators/Catechetical animators/Biblical animators course).
  6. For any clarification/suggestions, please contact Fr. Kennet Teles, the Director or the DFSC Panaji office on 2224140 or via email on dfscgoa@gmail.com.

 

SILENCE IS NOT AN OPTION: BE NOT AFRAID

‘PUT OUT INTO THE DEEP’

ATTEND YOUR DEANERY CONFERENCE ON NFP IN LARGE NUMBERS (For Diocesan Priests, Religious Priests, brothers and sisters)

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