John Paul II's Vision of Family and Marriage for the New Evangelization | Rolando Moreno | CWR
The family is an active and vital agent in establishing a civilization of love and the renewal of Christian culture
As Catholics reflect on the legacy of St. John Paul II, we will hear a great deal about his papacy and its global impact. However, I am convinced that as time passes he will be memorialized above all—at least by the Church—as a preeminent champion of marriage and family life.
St. John Paul II believed the family would play a vital role in the new springtime of evangelization and was much more than mere bystander in the Church’s evangelizing mission. He presented an inherently positive and bold view of marriage and family life. He was confident that no ideology, however daunting, can extinguish what God has set in motion. While the family finds itself in the midst of an eroding cultural crisis, facing militant attempts to redefine marriage contrary to reason and the Gospel of Jesus Christ, John Paul II redirects our gaze to the truth of Christian marriage as a fruit of the redemption of Christ. He saw the family in its full potential in the order of grace—that if lived according to this potential in Christ, it could change the culture and the world. For John Paul II, the family is an active and vital agent in establishing a civilization of love and the renewal of Christian culture.
As evident from his numerous writings on this topic (most notably “Original Unity of Man and Woman”, Familiaris Consortio and “Letter to Families”), John Paul presented the family as rooted in the economy of salvation—that is, God's act of creating the world and offering salvation through Christ—with an important role to play in the order of redemption. The family, as such, must continue the work of Christ and this work must begin first within itself, within each individual family before affecting the extended community.
Many mistakenly think that magisterial teaching is too theological, and thus impractical, to be effectively used for the work in the Lord’s vineyard. And some may be intimidated by John Paul’s reflections, seeing them as daunting, too philosophical and overly academic. Yet, despite the scholarship and depth of his writing, John Paul had no intention of having his teachings about the human person remain only on the academic level. Rather, his reflections are deeply Christological and Trinitarian, and meant to change lives.
Marriage in the Economy of Salvation
The world, explained John Paul, has been penetrated by the Divine in startling fashion. “For by his incarnation the Son of God united himself in a certain way with every man. The divine mystery of the Incarnation of the Word thus has an intimate connection with the human family” (LF 2). Marriage has a role in the economy of salvation; it is and can be an instrument of redemption for the world. Having been taken up into Christ, it extends to the temporal order, thereby building a civilization of love.