Pro-Life Office

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The Family as the Sanctuary of Life

Segment Four: The Family as the Sanctuary of Life

Overview: The human family founded upon marriage has a decisive responsible to serve as a “community of life and love” (92). It is the “sanctuary of life” through which God’s gift of life is welcome and protected.

The family has a “decisive and irreplaceable” role in building a culture of life. Founded upon marriage, the family is a “community of life and love” where parents act as “co-workers” in God’s plan for creation. Through marital love, a husband and wife are given the gift of a child made in the image and likeness of God. Parents are called to love and nurture their children in the family unit. By their self-giving love, day in and day out, parents reflect the love of God and lead their children to authentic freedom.

It is first and foremost in the family where the Gospel of Life is proclaimed and lived. Respect for all human persons begins in the family where self-giving love is shown across the generations, in sickness, health, difficult times and joy-filled celebrations.

Today, the primary role of the family has been undermined in many ways in our contemporary culture. Cohabitation and divorce rates have skyrocketed. Premarital sex and homosexual relationships have become increasingly accepted as normative.

In the early years of his pontificate, John Paul II delivered a series of 129 homilies on marriage and sexuality collectively entitled the “Theology of the Body”. In this series, John Paul II elevated our understanding of human marriage. Through their bodily love, a husband and wife, express total self-giving love of heart, mind, soul and body to one another. As part of God’s beautiful plan for marriage and family, from that love comes new life made in the image and likeness of God. This union of life-giving love mirrors the love of the Divine community of the Holy Trinity, a foretaste of life of heaven.

Understanding sexual love as a total gift of oneself to another in marriage is a radically counter-cultural concept. It is in our bodies, male and female, that we are created in the image and likeness of God. We are made for love. That is where true freedom and happiness come.

Across the Archdiocese of Boston, many small groups have come together to learn more about the theology of the body in a study series called “A New Language” which was developed by Women Affirming Life. It is a refreshing sign to see the Gospel of Life coming alive in these small groups of study, prayer and reflection. For more information on the theology of the body study groups and retreats, contact the Pro Life Office at (508) 651-1900.

Resources:
John Paul II, Theology of the Body: Human Love in the Divine Plan, Boston, Pauline Books & Media, 1997.
Percy, Anthony, The Theology of the Body Made Simple, Boston, Pauline Books & Media, 2006
Shivanandan, Mary, “A New Language,” study series on the theology of the body, Women Affirming Life, 2002, www.AffirmLife.com.

Questions to Consider:

  1. What is the connection between marriage, family and the Gospel of Life?
  2. Increasing numbers of children are not born and raised a traditional family unit. What does Church teaching on marriage and family say to them?
  3. How can parishes provide practical support to help young Catholics see the importance of the connection between sexuality and marriage?