Blog Post

Must Read! Bishop's New Exhortation on the Family

In a major new document written for Catholics of the Diocese of Phoenix, Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted urges fathers and mothers to commit themselves and their families to a deeper relationship with Christ.

Promulgated December 30, 2018 on Holy Family Sunday, Bishop Olmsted’s new exhortation, entitled, “Complete My Joy,” is a must read for all members of the body of Christ, regardless of their vocation, because it deals with the most fundamental unit of both the society and the Church – the family.

In a video announcing the document, Bishop Olmsted quotes a statement made by St. John Paul II when he visited St. Louis in 1999: “As the family goes, so goes the nation.”

Those words could not be more true. One glance at the daily headlines will confirm that the family is being attacked from all sides and, at the same time, the moral health of our nation and our Church are in serious decline.

“The basic unit of society is the family; the basic unit of the Church is family. That means that the healthiness of the society and the Church is really the health of each family,” the Bishop says.

“It’s not a small thing to love your wife. It’s not a small thing to love your husband. It’s not a small thing to welcome another child into your home and all the sacrifices that entails day in and day out for a long period of time. That’s why we see it as a great privilege, and also as a great duty that we strengthen married couples, that we encourage them, that we remind them that their vocation is a vital contribution to the world.”

This 33-page document delves into the truths about love and marriage, many of which have become so misunderstood in our confused culture.

“What is love?” the bishop writes. “The word love has suffered from a certain overgrowth of confusion in the English language . . .  It is a bit of a mess and needs a good pruning to be seen for the garden that it is. St Thomas Aquinas, the Angelic Doctor, defined the word love this way, 'Love is willing the good of the other.' This definition is simple, profound and very helpful. Love is one person willing the best, the good, for another, for the other’s sake. Let us not be afraid to prune that which is confused and overgrown.”

He goes on to say that “The Church will always uphold a demonstrable fact that, in our time, has become a point of controversy: the family has a nature; that is, it has a given meaning, structure and goal. Like a rosebush or a rhinoceros, and even more like a garden, the family does not invent, but receives its God-given reality as a gift— that which it tends toward when it has the conditions necessary for thriving. The structure is, from Creation until now, man and woman covenantally bound by vows for the sake of their own good and for the sake of any children who come forth from their “one flesh” union. The married couple’s family home is a life- and love-giving center in the world for as long as they both shall live, all the way to their Heavenly home.”

This document addresses many of the most vital issues surrounding the family that are in such dispute today such as how much the masculine and feminine elements in a marriage matter, the different but complementary mission of mothers and fathers, the natural good of parental authority, and what it means to be open to life. And all of it is written in simple, easy-to-understand language.

“I hope that in reading ‘Complete My Joy’ you will indeed be inspired to complete my joy to give me the joy of seeing families that really working hard and growing stronger and stronger,” the bishop says, “because God’s plan for marriage brings with it the grace to live that life - and He will always be there with you.”

Click here to read this document.

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