A Catholic Monthly Magazine

The Family

Fr Bernard Carney sm

Fr Bernard Carney sm

The Pope has called  for an Assembly of Bishops to discuss the Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and Contemporary World.

By way of preparation Pope Francis has spoken of the various elements that go to make up the family. The mother, the father, the children and the grandparents. Some of his words on these topics have appeared in recent editions of the Messenger. The basic role of the family  in the way members relate to one another has not changed in many years. The way the family relates to God is the same since the earliest times of the Church. What has changed is the way this basic unit, this “little church”  relates to modern society.

The Pope has spoken on the roles mentioned. The complementarity  in the roles of the parents has been stressed.  Both figure in a marriage bound to life long fidelity.  Both have a part to play in the nurturing and education of their children. In their turn the children have to learn how to be brothers and sisters to each other. Thus trust is born in the family circle and spreads from there to wider society. Grandparents have a part to play as “wisdom figures”  to their children and grandchildren. The virtues they possess  are love, patience and perseverance.

Central to the role of the family is handing on a knowledge of and a relationship to God

Central to the role of the family is handing on a knowledge of and a relationship to God. This is done chiefly by the mother and father. Religion is ‘caught not taught.’  It is one thing to speak of honesty and respectfulness towards others but it is in the doing of it that the lesson lies. The practise of hearing a child’s prayers before bed time is teaching them to relate to God, to Jesus and to Mary.

The Holy Family Janos Donat  1744 - 1830

The Holy Family
Janos Donat 1744 - 1830

The formal education of a child is a matter for parents when it comes to religion. But the Catholic school can only build on what has been learnt at home.

What has been disturbing the Church in modern times in some affluent societies is the rise of the throw-away culture. The monopoly some societies have on this world’s goods has led to a mentality that what is good and functional can be cast aside for next year’s fashion.

Sadly this mentality is translated  into family unity. Divorce is one common result, so too is the attitude of not formalising  a relationship with the Sacrament of Marriage. This  fracturing of the fundamental unit in the Church is a driver of the Mission on the Family.

It is encouraging to see concerned people are addressing these issues and have responded to the New Zealand Bishop’s request for discussion and comment to be sent on to them.  With the help of the Holy Spirit a new mood of hope and confidence in family life will be born.  

Tagged as:

Comments are closed.