Reclaiming our Family Spirituality
Thank God for the gift of Nigeria and today we celebrate our 57th Independence Anniversary! Interestingly, we as a nation under the banner of God and the maternal protection of our Mother Mary, celebrate the Solemnity of OUR LADY QUEEN & PATRONESS OF NIGERIA. Double celebration for quantum blessings! The Blessed Virgin Mary is the first principal patron saint of Nigeria and we are really blessed as a nation to have her as our guide and intercessor. As a good and insightful mother, she has been giving messages across the world about the need for the rediscovery of our traditional values and common heritage such as the family, prayer, conversion, reparation for sins and the cultivation of virtues. For instance, regarding the Family, Our Lady said: “I request the families of the parish to pray the Family Rosary” (September 24, 1984) and “Let all the prayers you say in your home in the evenings be for the conversion of sinners because the world is in great sin. Every evening pray the Rosary” (October 8, 1984). So, the Madonna has been calling and she is still calling on all families to rediscover their mission to sanctify through prayers, charity and a promotion of a lasting value system. The family is also called to sanctify the world by saturating it with prayers and values that will last.
There is no doubt that our world today is beset with the failures of States, nations and institutions and one of the fastest declining institution is the family. The family has almost lost its values, bearing, purpose, focus and function. Nigeria would have made a huge progress if she had sustained her family institution through proper parenting style and good governance from the political frontiers. Nevertheless, God is the originator of the human family because a family is composed of human beings who are undoubtedly created by God. So irrespective of the challenges, problems and difficulties confronting the human family there is still hope because the family is part of the overall good created and confirmed by God in Genesis 1:31 “God saw all He had made, and indeed it was very good.” However, the family needs to play her part to sustain herself as a gift. The major way to do so is for the family to recognise its spiritual undertone. Don’t forget our popular expression: we are spiritual beings making a human journey. That is there is a driving force that supposed to keep the family alive irrespective of the challenges bedevilling her. That force is nothing else but her spirituality.
Spirituality is transcending our ordinary life. It is going beyond our humanity and realising our spiritual being that existed before our humanity. It is what we perceive and acknowledge as our ultimate value. On a practical note, our spirituality is how we channel the fire, energy, force, unrest or desire within us. Some channel theirs towards God, some to power, sex, money, drugs, violence, terrorism, and so forth. It is this fire or unrest that led St. Augustine to say “You have made us for yourself, Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.” For us Christians our spirituality ought to be rooted in God and the Church. What is your family’s spirituality? (Take some time to describe it, especially in writing). The family spirituality includes everything a family does and everything a family is. Indeed the family has been described as “the domestic Church” and according to Pope Paul VI “This means that there should be found in every Christian family the various aspects of the entire Church.” So what are the things that take place in the Church that should reflect in every Christian family? Three core activities dominate in the Church: Teaching, sanctifying and governing. The foregoing are in line with the three offices of Jesus Christ as exercised by the Church. The Code of Canon Law beautifully captures this point this way: “Christ’s faithful are those who, since they are incorporated into Christ through baptism, are constituted the people of God. For this reason they participate in their own way in the priestly (sanctifying), prophetic (teaching), and kingly (governing) office of Christ. They are called, each according to his or her particular condition, to exercise the mission which God entrusted to the Church to fulfil in the world.” To be continued. Please don’t forget to pray the Rosary as part of your family spirituality and I wish you a spirit-filled October Devotion, Amen.
Fr. John-Mary Atep