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Expert Answer Forum

by Catherine Frakas 27 Apr 2003

Paterfamilias QUESTION from William Kautt March 1, 2000 Dear Brother John-Paul, peace of Christ be with you.
I am a Catholic and have been a reader of the St. Michael Q&A; for many months now. We are blessed to have you all among us--please keep up the good work!
My Question:
In your reply about the Leviathan, you mentioned to the gent that he is the paterfamilias and has its authority over her spiritually. I can surmise that this is Latin for father of the family. Please forgive my ignorance, but can you explain what the spiritual authority of this means?
You and yours are in my prayers, Bill Kautt
ANSWER by John-Paul Ignatius, O.L.S.M. on March 6, 2000 Dear Mr. Kautt:
Thank you for your kinds words about our apostolate. We merely offer ourselves to God and He directs our paths. What you see on the Website is how He has directed us. All Glory to Him!
Yes, paterfamilias means father of the family.
The Church is run on the basis of a paterfamilias government. The Pope is our supreme paterfamilias, the bishops are our local paterfamilias, the parish priest is our particular paterfamilias, and each father of a family is the paterfamilias of his family.
In other words, there is a paterfamilias for each family grouping (universal, local church, parish church, family unit.
Each paterfamilias is charged with priestly duty. In the case of the Church hierarchy, that priestly duty is vested in the ministerial priesthood which is the priesthood derived from the Sacrament of Holy Orders.
In the family unit that priesthood is vested in the royal priesthood of which we are all apart derived from the Sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation (and for those married, in the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony).
In addition, there are other relationships that consist of a paterfamilias nature by virtue of the relationship. For example, to a certain measure employers have this relationship with their employees, youth counselors over their youth groups, counselors over their clients, doctors over their patients. This relationship is limited, but in a small measure such relationships form a small paterfamilias dynamic.
And of course, there is a formal and direct paterfamilias relationship between a religious and his or her superior.
Since this paterfamilias is a priestly office, as it were, according to our state in life and circumstances, the paterfamilias has spiritual authority.
This means that the paterfamilias can assert some degree of spiritual authority over their charges (subordinates). In terms of spiritual warfare that means that a paterfamilias can step in and assert spiritual authority in prayer on behalf of his children or employee, or clients, or whatever. Thus even if the child doesn't do it personally, the paterfamilias can do it on behalf and in the name of the household.
This can have major effect, because spiritual law, gives this authority to the paterfamilias and the demons must take notice.
By the way, we see this paterfamilias operation in action in the Bible with the patriarch of the family -- like with Abraham over his whole household, which contains smaller households of his sons' families in which his sons are paterfamilias in their particular household which is apart of the larger household of Abraham.
We see in the Bible where the father give the blessings, where the father prays on behalf of his wayward children, etc., etc.
Someday, I will do a complete Bible study on this paterfamilias.
Hope this help to understand this a little bit.
Thank you for your prayers. When one offers a service like this one is bound to expect a certain amount of trouble. Yours prayers are greatly appreciated.
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