Easter Living in the Domestic Church — There’s Heroism There

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A belated Mother’s Day thought, about family life right now during these coronavirus days and what the work of the church is in every apartment and home — and as I was talking to Luanne Zurlo about last week, even in homeless shelters where some of the families her charter-school network serves in the South Bronx live. Most of us were nowhere near a church for Easter, and yet, the work that is happening in family life day after day in quarantine is as important as it gets. Here’s what JPII said about mothers and fathers in Evangelium Vitae:

As part of the spiritual worship acceptable to God (cf. Rom 12:1), the Gospel of life is to be celebrated above all in daily living, which should be filled with self-giving love for others. In this way, our lives will become a genuine and responsible acceptance of the gift of life and a heartfelt song of praise and gratitude to God who has given us this gift. This is already happening in the many different acts of selfless generosity, often humble and hidden, carried out by men and women, children and adults, the young and the old, the healthy and the sick.

It is in this context, so humanly rich and filled with love, that heroic actions too are born. These are the most solemn celebration of the Gospel of life, for they proclaim it by the total gift of self. They are the radiant manifestation of the highest degree of love, which is to give one’s life for the person loved (cf. Jn 15:13). They are a sharing in the mystery of the Cross, in which Jesus reveals the value of every person, and how life attains its fullness in the sincere gift of self. Over and above such outstanding moments, there is an everyday heroism, made up of gestures of sharing, big or small, which build up an authentic culture of life. A particularly praiseworthy example of such gestures is the donation of organs, performed in an ethically acceptable manner, with a view to offering a chance of health and even of life itself to the sick who sometimes have no other hope.

Part of this daily heroism is also the silent but effective and eloquent witness of all those “brave mothers who devote themselves to their own family without reserve, who suffer in giving birth to their children and who are ready to make any effort, to face any sacrifice, in order to pass on to them the best of themselves.” In living out their mission “these heroic women do not always find support in the world around them. On the contrary, the cultural models frequently promoted and broadcast by the media do not encourage motherhood. In the name of progress and modernity the values of fidelity, chastity, sacrifice, to which a host of Christian wives and mothers have borne and continue to bear outstanding witness, are presented as obsolete … We thank you, heroic mothers, for your invincible love! We thank you for your intrepid trust in God and in his love. We thank you for the sacrifice of your life … In the Paschal Mystery, Christ restores to you the gift you gave him. Indeed, he has the power to give you back the life you gave him as an offering.”

How is resurrection going to happen after this moment where so many people are scared, out of jobs, lost loved ones they didn’t even get to have a funeral for? People who know love and sacrifice and hope and joy. Faith is critical and the family is the first and best school. Not perfect. Not easy. Heroic. We can tend to take these things for granted and not encourage and support one another enough. We all need all the support (spiritual, moral, and, of course, financial, but let’s not forget the spiritual and moral) we can get these days.

And since we are still in the Easter season, take some time with it if it is helpful. Give yourself a moment to realize how important who you are and what you’re doing is!

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