… One Family at a Time
I believe that the cultural battles today are a direct result of a lack of joy-filled families. The scourge of abortion, declining birth rates, increasing divorce rates, and a pervasive hedonistic lifestyle can all be traced to a breakdown of the family. According to Blessed John Paul II in Familiaris Consortio, “the mission of of the family is to guard, reveal and communicate love.” Today there is a dearth of examples of authentic love within families. It used to be a given that a young man and woman would meet, get married and welcome children with joy, but this Christian worldview is questioned in just about every way in our society. The predominate cultural thought is that the idea of Christian marriage and family life has been tried and has failed, now let’s try something else – it certainly couldn’t turn out any worse.
When we look at the societal ills of today it may seem that there is nothing we can do to stop the cultural winds of change. I would suggest that very little can be accomplished by complaining about the culture’s departure from Christian morality. As the saying goes, “you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” Families need to go against the grain, and embrace a radical approach to family life.
The Beauty of God’s Plan for your Family
God has a beautiful plan for our us. His plan often includes the gift of a spouse and children. Sometimes we are tempted to view our family as a burden, but that was not how it was in the beginning. If we get rid of the obstacles in our way (work, possessions, pride, selfishness), we can see how beautiful the gift of our spouse and our children really are from the perspective of our Heavenly Father. Our spouse is our helpmate (cf. Gen 2:5), and our closest companion in the journey of life. Our spouse is the person with whom we share our life mission. If we are fortunate enough to be able to have children, we not only participate in God’s creation of new life, but that new life is half taken from you and your spouse and if we ponder eternity, our children are the only thing we have in this life that we can take with us to heaven. God will provide for all our needs, and love us with a love that we can hardly fathom, and bless us with companions on our journey back home to perfect union with Him in heaven.
The Value of Perseverance
So, why is it that many times we don’t view our family as that great gift? If you are like me, there are times when your family can be a source of stress and can be the cause of a lot of extra work. Many times, we don’t view family life as a blessing, but we must ask God to help us see our family as He sees it. The struggles will come and go and we will be better because of it. St. Gregory the Great wrote, “There are some who wish to be humble, but without being despised, who wish to be happy with their lot, but without being needy, who wish to be chaste, without mortifying the body, to be patient without suffering. They want both to acquire virtues and to avoid the sacrifices those virtues involve: they are like soldiers who flee the battlefield and try to win the war from the comfort of the city.”
Don’t Hide your Light Under a Bushel
People were attracted to Christianity in the first century, not because the first Christians preached against all that was wrong with society, but by their steadfast faith and their love. Conversions were made because of the faithful witness of Christian families and we are called to do the same. We know where road of selfishness and self-love will lead our culture and we have a responsibility to raise our families to be light in the darkness so that when our society has tried their solutions to the problems and failed, they will notice the joy that exists in our families and perhaps some will ask us how we did it. St. Peter provided some great advice for us in his first apostolic letter, “Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence.” We have been given the great gift of faith by a loving Father, as Christian parents, we must hand on that faith with loving patience, the world is in desperate need of not only hearing, but seeing the good news of the Gospel in action within our families.