Choosing Life: Choosing Friends and Allies – by Lauri Przybysz, DMin

SupportingCatholicFamilies

When we were young parents, it would dismay us when our kids complained that we were the only family who didn’t go to that movie or buy that new game. What a relief it was when we discovered other parents at church who were just as uncool as we were. Everybody was not following the crowd. We made sure we saw more of those people.

Having a group of Christian friends was essential for us through our parenting years, both as a support for our marriage and as an example to our children. One of the best things parents can do to succeed as a Domestic Church is to choose good Christian friends.

When we feel like we are in the minority with our Christian values, choosing friends who share our values can give us allies in living our faith actively. Even though it sometimes seems we are “islands of Christian life,” we actually have lots of company in the Universal Church. If our partner families have diverse age ranges and life experiences, all’s the better. Together, people of faith can cooperate to do more good than one family alone could. Catholic families that experience the joy of the Gospel are the best evangelizers of other families, as well as their neighbors and coworkers.

Developing support networks does not mean circling the wagons and withdrawing from the world into isolated enclaves. Instead, families simply accompany one another on the formative journey of trying to live their faith authentically, welcome new friends, and serve others.

Reaching out to other families, especially those who are less connected to church, is a great way to evangelize one’s neighbors by introducing them to concrete, meaningful ways of living their faith. By working together, Christian families can provide support to those trying to raise a family in a society indifferent or hostile to Gospel values.

Because our family intentionally formed a community with like-minded neighbors, we learned from each other how to be Christian families. Over the years, our friends from church got us involved in many faith-building projects – helping a refugee family find housing, painting an old rectory, hosting missionaries, making a pilgrimage – which we would never have tried on our own. Our children worked beside us, watching and learning. We discovered strength in numbers, and we had fun doing it. This is one of the many ways our family chooses life.


Dr. Lauri Przybysz is a leader in the Christian Family Movement, a network of Catholic families in 42 countries that aims to improve society by building up the Domestic Church. She holds a Doctorate in Ministry from the Catholic University of America, and she has served as an archdiocesan coordinator of Marriage and Family Life, a Pastoral Associate, and middle school religion teacher. She and her husband, John, recently participated in consultations on the Synod for the Family at the Vatican. They have been married for 42 years and have 20 grandchildren.

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Two Become One – By Colleen Gerke

SupportingCatholicFamilies
‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? – Matthew 19:5

This may seem strange, but it is a very vivid memory for me before marriage and during engagement. When we embraced, I wanted to be physically part of my fiancé. I wanted to “melt” into him. I even told him I wanted us to “melt” together. I know that sounds like romantic gush, but it was my experience.

I was so in love. I knew that marriage was part of God’s plan for me, a vocation. Even though I had some fear of not having all the necessary tools or role models teaching me how to live a healthy marriage, I knew my love to be true, beautiful and good; from God. I knew that if my marriage was of God, it had the potential to grow and endure.

My desire to “melt”, become “one flesh” with my husband, led us on a journey to form a family, a desire to have children, a need to engage with other families, a longing to create a future of hope for our children. This Journey is a participation in the Church’s desire for families that St. John Paul II expressed in Familiaris Consortio: Apostolic Exhortation on the Family. When we married we became a Domestic Church; a holy family. We were a Domestic Church from the beginning when were a family of two, and as we grew. In our desire to have children and share the Good News of Jesus’ love and forgiveness with others, we are church. When we sacrifice for each other, our children, and others, we are church. When we work to make the community in which we live a place of hope and healing for our children and our children’s children, we are church. When this desire goes beyond our own children to a desire for all children of the world, we are church. In our struggle to do what is right, even when we fail, we are a sign of Jesus’ love and forgiveness. We are church. We are holy. We witness to our children and community resilience through knowing we are loved and forgiven by Jesus.

Do you remember the desires of your courtship? Do you remember the longings and hopes of early marriage? How have these desires and longings, or how can these desires and longings, with Jesus’ love and forgiveness give you resilience in marriage? In your vocation?

Colleen has been married to husband John for 33 years; they have 5 children. She is beginning her sixth year as Director of the Family and Respect Life Office in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati.

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