A key truth to begin with as we focus on the mission of handing on the faith is that the Church by her very nature is missionary. Every one of the four Gospels records our Lord bestowing His Great Commission on the Church. Go into the whole world and proclaim the Gospel to every creature…To have the Faith is, at one and the same time, to possess the call to spread the Faith. Every member of the Church has this missionary aspect of his or her vocation. There is no such thing as a passive member of the Body of Christ, even if such a member cannot travel or engage in much physical activity or interaction with others. Sometimes this missionary vocation is fulfilled in the silent witness of patient suffering, with a love and confidence in the Cross of Christ.
All have the call to hand on the Faith, no matter how young or old, no matter how healthy or sick, no matter how educated or uneducated, whether possessing many talents or few. This call, furthermore, is bestowed by the Lord Himself in baptism and Confirmation.
The family, therefore, as the primary cell of society and the Church, is called as a unit and as individual members to hand on the Faith.
The effectiveness with which this will be done depends on many factors, not the least of which is the strength of the unity in faith of the mother and father of the family, just as the strength of their marital love is critical for the unity of the family itself.
The catechesis which occurs within the family takes place in many directions, not simply from parents to children. First of all, the spouses enrich one another’s faith, and this should start from their first days together, and throughout the period of marriage preparation. It is certainly not unusual that the man and woman who decide to deepen their relationship with each other and begin preparing for marriage find themselves at different levels in their participation in the life of the Church. At this crucial phase of their lives, their growing desire to share themselves with each other can become the opportunity for the partner who may be less familiar with the Faith to begin to learn more about it.
By Alfonso Cardinal Lopez-Trujillo
Pontifical Council for the Family
July 18, 1998