The Holy Family and our families
- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - December 30, 2015 - 9:00am

With the recent celebration of the Solemnity of the Holy Family, we are reminded that our families should be patterned after the one of Jesus, Mary and Joseph where not only the natural and material aspects of the family are attended to, but also and more importantly, the supernatural and spiritual aspects.

It's time that we seriously consider this important angle whenever we talk about the family, never regarding it as something optional, but rather necessary although always to be understood as something to be freely accepted, not imposed.

Yes, the family has to be seen more in its spiritual and supernatural character, from its foundation to its goal, than merely in its material and natural facets. Since persons are concerned, the human family cannot help but be endowed also with spiritual and supernatural dimensions.

Let's remember that we can never outgrow the need for the family, no matter how old, mature and independent we can be. Even those who lead a prominently spiritual and celibate life need it.

It's a requirement of our nature, given by God and not by some human consensus. The family is a divine creation, before it is a human institution.

That is why we don't talk only of making the family materially well-conditioned. It has to be spiritually healthy and vibrant where faith, piety, virtues, charity, compassion, mercy, etc. take precedence over our material needs for food, shelter, clothing, etc.

Thus, in one of the readings of the Solemnity, we are told to "put on, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another…" (Col 3,12-13)

This fundamental understanding and attitude toward the family is now increasingly crucial as we are facing more tricky and complicated challenges and trials that affect the family.

We see rising cases of dysfunctional families, with marriages defaced by infidelities and unrenewed love and a sense of commitment unable to "Reset" or "Reboot" when needed, neglect of children, family life reduced to a minimum, etc.

Recognizing the crisis, the Vatican last year convoked a synod of bishops to discuss certain issues regarding the family.

In its working paper, called Lineamenta, the bishops were asked to highlight "the need for mercy in responding to difficult situations-even asking the bishops to avoid basing their pastoral care solely on current Catholic doctrine."

In other words, the bishops were prodded to find other and newer ways of dealing with the often ugly situations of the family in the world today, even as fidelity to Christ's moral teachings has to be protected.

I remember that the synod stirred up a hornet's nest that indicated that the issues were indeed complicated. They required a lot of prayers, sacrifice, study, consultation, etc., since the demands of fidelity to the moral doctrine of Christ has to contend with the need for growth and adaptation of the same faith to the stark realities on the ground.

Of course, this effort to find newer but faithful ways of dealing with difficult family issues has to start with empowering the family, especially the parents, so that it can fulfill all its duties and responsibilities, especially the most basic ones that are related more than anything else, to the spiritual life of all members in the family. This effort cannot do away with this basic necessity of the family.

This, of course, is not going to be an easy job. We are aware of the many inadequacies that families now have as well as the increasing dangerous influences and conditionings that they are exposed to. But that's the challenge we just have to face and learn to resolve.

Obviously parents, especially the young ones and those whose formation may not have been good, need a lot of help. Catechesis for them is necessary, but a lot more are needed. It's good that there are groups organized by the churches and some private institutions that try to meet this need, but more groups are needed.

Parents should be encouraged to teach catechism to their children in ways that would come out natural. They have to learn how to discern the spiritual development of their children, like how their children are thinking, desiring, working, or how they are acquiring virtues, developing concern for others, handling difficulties,  or appreciating the need for prayers, sacrifice, sacraments, etc.

What can help is for parents to consecrate their families to the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, for it's there where they aspire to get the necessary guidance for the development of their own families.

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