No one likes the destruction of families in society, and problems in our own family can be devastating. We dont have to accept destruction of families and just live with it. In fact, for Christians that isnt even a real option. Family life is sacred, and Christians are called to live out the beauty and dignity of the family communion, and to help others to live in the same way, so that the true sacred nature of the family can be realized in our world today.
I recently had a conversation with an 8-year-old girl. In a rather dismal tone, she told me about her family's new home. When I asked why, I detected a bit of sadness in her voice. Her response left me quite shocked and saddened. She said, "Well, my mom, brother, and I moved there with my mom's new boyfriend. I don't really like him, but I pretend like I do. I really miss my daddy."
In another conversation with a woman in her late forties, I listened as she shared her struggle with depression. Her marriage of twenty-five years had ended in a messy divorce as her husband's years of infidelity were revealed. She now grieves over the pain and division that this brought to her family. She is now remarried, but remains heartbroken, unable to trust in the fidelity of her new husband.
These conversations reveal that a few obstacles exist in convincing people that family life is sacredor maybe they don't. Maybe their pain reveals something that is often overlooked. Secular culture downplays the importance of family life. It tells this young girl and this woman that the key is to move on. After all, we are only human, and these things just happen. The problem with this is that it does not address the heart of the issue.
Because family life is sacred, the destruction of our families is painful.
It is not a wound that a person just has to get used to. What doctor would tell a bleeding patient to just get used to blood and pain? A good doctor knows that the body is injured and needs to be cared for and nursed back to health.
Man's need for family life is embedded deeply within his heart. With all of the clamor that goes on about the dysfunctionality of American family life, it is extremely important for Christians, alongside Pope John Paul II, to proclaim and live the dignity of family life. Family life has not turned its back on the people of today; we, rather, have in many ways turned our back on the family.
In Familiaris Consortio (n. 17), Pope John Paul II encourages families with the following plea: "Family, become what you are!" Throughout the letter, the Pontiff affirms a message to families that he has proclaimed throughout his entire priesthood. At the heart of this message is the belief that family life is sacred. He echoes the Second Vatican Council, which calls the family, "the intimate community of life and love" (n. 48). It is the place where persons are nourished spiritually and physically.
The Sacredness of Family Life is a difficult message to preach in a society that embraces co-habitation and thinks little of escalating divorce statistics. We must remind those who are in the midst of, or just coming out of, painful family situations, of those beautiful virtues of faith, hope, and charity. These can and should be at the heart of family life. The Church, through steadfast prayer and encouragement, urges families to press on and, "Become what you are!"
Copyright © 2000 Angela Maupin