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Catholic Families: Heroic?

by Fr. John A. Hardon, S.J.

(Father John A. Hardon, S.J., an eminent theologian, began his talk at the National Marian Year Symposium by quoting an article from the latest edition of the Marxist Review on women’s liberation. Below are excerpts from his talk given on April 10, l988).

It is common knowledge that something drastic has happened to the family in the modern world. Countries like the United States reveal such a breakdown of marriage as Western civilization has not known in 2000 years…. There are many reasons for this rebellion against the family and revolution against marital stability. But one of the main reasons has been the demonic zeal of Marxism, which has penetrated, by now, every country in the world. We return for the moment to the few quotations I made at the beginning of this talk about women’s liberation which entered the modern world from Communism.

You cannot read one book by Nicolai Lenin without seeing proof of what I have said. Radical feminism -- with its hatred of men and its enslavement of women under the guise of liberating them from home and family -- has its roots in Marxist-Leninism as I learned years ago. Every basic idea of women’s liberation that is destroying family life can be found in the writings of Lenin. In many cases, radical feminism has borrowed the exact words of the evil genius who, along with Karl Marx, created world Communism.

Restoration of Family Life

Family life can only be restored in countries like ours only by Catholic families living up to the teachings of Christ and His Church.

This means two things. First: Ordinary Catholic families cannot survive. They must be extra-ordinary families. They must be what I do not hesitate to call heroic Catholic families.

Ordinary Catholic families are no match for the devil as he uses the media of communication to secularize and desacralize modern society.

No less than ordinary individual Catholics can survive, so ordinary Catholic families cannot survive. They have no choice. They must either be holy -- which means sanctified -- or they will disappear.

The only Catholic families that will remain alive and thriving by the year 2000 are the families of martyrs. Father, mother and children must he willing to die for their God-given convictions.

Back in the second century, the Fathers of the Church scoffed at her persecutors who were trying to crush Christianity by fire and sword. The persecutors were told. “The blood of martyrs is the seed of Christians.”

What the world most needs today is families of martyrs, who will reproduce themselves in spirit in spite of the diabolical hatred against family life by the enemies of Christ and His Church in our day.

Second: Family life can be restored in our society only by the apostolic zeal of holy Catholic families -- reaching out to other families who are in such desperate need today.

Pope John Paul calls this, “The Apostolate of families to families.”

In other words, the sanctification of family life implies two responsibilities, not just one: the personal duty for each Catholic family to grow in holiness, as a family; and the social duty of working, as a family, to help other families to remain alive and to grow, as families, not in spite of but almost because of the demonic opposition from the unbelieving world all around them.

We are now in a position to ask: What is the role of the Blessed Virgin in the sanctification of the family? In other words: How important is Our Lady in making holy, or sanctifying the Catholic family? Her role, I do not hesitate to say, is not only important but indispensable. How?

Mary is indispensable because of her powerful intercession with her Son, to obtain for Catholic families the graces they need to protect themselves from the enemies of the family in the modern world.

Mary is indispensable because she provides the example to Catholic families of the virtues they must practice to sanctify themselves and to save and sanctify others in the apostolate of families to families.

Praying to Mary

Praying to the Blessed Virgin is the first and most fundamental way that families can become holy. It means at least seven things:

  1. Every Catholic family should have some daily prayer which they say together to the Blessed Virgin Mary. The most obvious is the Holy Rosary.

  2. Every Catholic family, at least once (or better two or even three times a day) should recite the Angelus together.

  3. Every Catholic family should make each Saturday of the year a day specially dedicated to the Blessed Virgin. It should be something that involves the whole family each Saturday, in honor of Our Lady. (Examples: Fasting; Litany of Loreto; First Saturday devotions).

  4. Every Catholic family should have at least one picture or painting of the Blessed Virgin in the home.

  5. Every member of a Catholic family should wear a Scapular in honor of the Blessed Virgin. Also, every member of a Catholic family should he enrolled in the Confraternity of the Miraculous Medal, wear the medal, and daily say one Hail Mary and add the invocation, “0 Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to Thee.”

  6. Every Catholic family should have at least some books on the Blessed Virgin in their home, and subscribe to some bonafide Catholic magazine which has articles on Our Lady. Reading about Mary is a sure way of growing in the knowledge of Mary. Knowledge leads to love. And love of Mary leads to becoming an apostle of Mary.

  7. Every Catholic family should have at least one small statue of Our Lady in their home. This should become a little Marian shrine, before which the members of the family will say at least one Hail Mary every day. These foregoing seven practices of devotion to the Blessed Virgin are by no means exhaustive.

But they are typical of the kind of silent and vocal prayers that Catholic families should exercise if they wish to obtain from Mary what they, as families, constantly need from her Son.

Copyright © 1998 Inter Mirifica

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