10th World Meeting of Families
Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness
One might well say, “You don’t know my family; it’s a path to messiness (or worse)!” Yet it is in the inevitable times of stress that we can be most open to God’s mercy.
In fact, wherever family members choose to hope, love, persevere, trust, or courageously try again, the presence of Jesus is felt and the Spirit is moving, the Gospel is alive.
These families are all around us and they provide our greatest grounding in love.DOWNLOAD HANDOUT
“Family, become what you are!” – St John Paul II
Families have a mission – In the religious practices of the home a child first senses a reverence for God. This flows on to include living justly and exercising a social conscience.
Families shape society – They offer a humanising and personalising influence. In a family, one’s importance is not determined by salary, status or age. A family says to each member: We love you for who you are; you belong to us.
“As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live” – St John Paul II
Our values are forged in day-to-day family life, especially in our ups and downs. The fact that we are not perfect but still keep trying is what makes us ‘the extraordinary in the ordinary’. That is more than we can learn in any university course or book.
“Don’t worry that children never listen to you; worry that they are always watching you.” – Robert Fulghum
As parents, we worry about our children and the rapidly changing world in which they are growing up. Passing on the faith in such an environment can feel overwhelming.
Remember: faith is ‘caught’ more than taught!
If we work on our own faith development we can be confident that our Christian love will not be lost on our children. Simple practices like a family prayer space and bedtime blessings form the foundation of faith for families and communicate the constancy of God’s love.
All members of a family play a vital role in family life.
Aunts and uncles, single or married, are often crucial mentors, providing wisdom, stability and empathy to their nephews and neices.
Grandparents bring gifts of time, memory and perspective. They help network extended family, fostering reconciliation and family traditions.
Children inspire hope and optimism. They call forth generosity and self-sacrifice in their carers helping them to grow in holiness and virtue.
Meal Time = Prime Time
Meals are prime time for family, where life is shared and values are formed.
- Turn off the TV & smart phones so that you can be present to each other.
- Say a prayer of thanks for the meal: gratitude reminds us of our blessings.
- Don’t rush it. Allow time to enjoy the food AND the conversation.
- Listen. Catch up on each other’s day. It can be helpful to have a standard question: What was your high? What was your low?
- Keep conversation respectful. Affirm, don’t criticise. Humour can defuse tension.
- Be persistent – even if your attempts end in failure sometimes, never give up!
Three Magic Expressions from Pope Francis
We need to say these daily to each other:
- Please: before doing anything in your family, ask “Do you mind if I do this?”
- Sorry: Not always easy to say but such a precious word. Don’t let the sun go down on your family without having made your peace.
- Thank you: This is the very “language” of God – something beautiful.