A young couple visited us the other night. We had dinner, told stories, talked about our faith, got to know each other better and had lots of laughs.
The next day, I received a delightful e-mail from the young woman thanking us for our hospitality and the love they had experienced in our home and among our family. She said that being in our home was like breathing in “a breath of fresh air” and that we radiated a love that inspired.
The young woman’s note touched me deeply and I’m grateful not only for her kind words, but also for the opportunity to welcome these two wonderful individuals into our home. We felt as gifted and inspired by them as they were by us.
Later in the day, I spent some time meditating on her message. I don’t consider our family extraordinary. I think all families are beautiful and inspiring in their own way. I asked myself what it was that so affected our visitors. And the answer came to me in one word: Love.
And isn’t that the apostolate of all families?
Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke about the love of families. He compared the family to the Holy Trinity, saying that it “is called to be a community of love and life, in which differences must come together to become a parable of communion.”
The Holy Father went on to say that, guided by the Holy Spirit, believers can know “the intimacy of God himself, discovering that he is not infinite solitude but communion of light and love, life given and received in an eternal dialogue between the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit — lover, beloved and love.”
So, too, it is in the family. We strive to know, love and serve God in, with and for one another. In our daily lives we enter into an eternal dialogue with the Father and Son in the Holy Spirit.
“And it is in this love,” the Holy Father stated, “that the human being finds his truth and happiness.”
That’s our family apostolate. Our family is the apostolate. Not only do we share our love and devotion with the Triune God, our Blessed Mother and each other, but we also share it with all our guests. No one is ever turned away from our door and, once inside, all are loved unconditionally regardless of who they are, what’s been left behind, or what’s transpired in the world outside of our walls. We constantly strive to reflect the Blessed Trinity by living an atmosphere of reverence, love and readiness for sacrifice.
That doesn’t mean we have a 100% success rate with evangelization. Believe me, we have our moments. But it’s exactly those moments that make us realize how dependent we are on the Triune God in our human frailty — and how much we really do love and need each other after all. Experiencing those “moments” in our own family helps us to understand, accept and forgive them in others. It’s a continuous cycle of trying, falling and getting up again. Each time we’re a bit stronger.
The family apostolate looks different in each family. For some, it’s active and gregarious. For others, it’s contemplative and quiet. For many, it’s a shifting combination of both. But for all families, it’s a call to do our best to reflect the Holy Trinity in all that we think, do and say so that all our guests experience a breath of fresh air and a love that radiates. In such hospitality are human hearts led to — or closer to — the Sacred Heart of Our Lord.