When I was a kid growing up, I loved visiting my grandparents homes, both Grandma & Grandpa Etienne, and Grandma & Grandpa Voges. The Etienne’s were a small family. Dad had only one sister growing up, having lost a sister at a young age. The Voges’ on the other hand were a family of nine children. Each family had deep roots in the Catholic Faith. In fact, my parents, and my grandparents, and probably their parents were all from Perry County, and never lived anywhere other than Perry County, Indiana. So, family roots ran deep; family means the world.
In each of my grandparents homes, and our home as well, there was much Catholic art. Of course in those days, most Catholic homes had images of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Images of St. Joseph were also around. In my own family home, in my parent’s bedroom was a statue of the holy family; Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. Somehow, in the divine plan of things, all of this “translated” a sound theology that families were to find their own identity in God’s family. Thus, much of our family life revolved around faith and the local parish.
This “sound theology” is still important today. Marriage and family are essential to God’s plan to bring more children into the world, into His family. Clearly, all this begins in the sacrament of marriage, for the husband and wife to begin sharing their love in a mystical, yet very real way which acknowledges, opens to, and incorporates Divine Love into each and every fabric of their life and love together. As children are received in and through their love, they are then brought into the “family of God” through Baptism and the other Sacraments. Added to the foundation of the Sacraments is the way each family makes their home a “Domestic Church” through the life of love, prayer, and all the other family traditions that help make the connection from family to God’s family. My mother was quite gifted in these simple practices that make a home a Catholic home; from the practices of Lent, Holy Week, coloring Easter eggs, to decorating the home for Advent and Christmas. Of course, there was the regular regimen of prayer underpinning all of these “traditions”. Of course, dad had quite a role to play in all of this as well. We had a plaque that hung in the home which read: “The greatest gift a father can give his children is to love their mother.” Dad has been a great model of fidelity and love, and continues to be so today. Somehow in the midst of this household of love, respect, and Catholic “ethos”, each of us came to know our self and find our unique path in life, and in the Church.
The family is the seedbed of all vocations. I wish to assure all our families of my prayers for you, that you may continually grow in your love for eachother, in the knowledge of God’s love for you. May each child raised in the family of this “local Church of Cheyenne” come to know God’s call, and may they have the love and freedom to say “Yes” to wherever God is leading them for the good of the People of God. In similar fashion, here is a prayer of St. Paul: “I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that he may grant you in accord with the riches of his glory to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner self, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19)