September 9, 2022


Despite secular influences, let’s continue to build strong families of faith

“The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church. It is a community of faith, hope, and charity; it assumes singular importance in the Church, as is evident in the New Testament” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, #2204).

As Catholics, we are taught “the family is the original cell of social life” (#2207). And it is the place where parents or guardians are commissioned with passing on the faith to children.

Many children are baptized as infants, which cleanses them of the original sin all of us are born with. And we parents, as their primary educators, vow—along with their godparents—to bring them up in the Catholic faith.

At an early age, we introduce them to Jesus, Mary, Joseph, the saints and tenets of our Catholic faith.

As our children grow, the sacraments continue to be integral in the formation we prayerfully impart on them. First reconciliation, first Communion and confirmation are among those sacraments, and depending on their vocation, marriage or holy orders may come into their formation as they approach adulthood. Through all this, we must remind our children that the sacraments give them grace. And as St. Teresa of Calcutta reminds us, we must show them that “love begins at home, and it is not how much we do … but how much love we put in that action.”

While we hope and pray our well-intentioned evangelization efforts bear fruit, what makes this task more daunting for families today is the fact that our secular world is attempting to dominate society’s landscape and force faith onto each individual’s back burner—or even worse, make us believe faith is unnecessary. This reality is making it more challenging for parents and other adults in our efforts to catechize our younger generation.

Pope Francis said as much recently, reminding us that Christians are called to bring hope to those going through dark times, especially families who are threatened by ideologies prevalent in today’s world.

Addressing the Schoenstatt Fathers—whose main area of work is educating married couples and youth through small group meetings and retreats—the pope on Sept. 1 urged them to be “bearers of a message of hope in these dark situations that people in every stage of life are going through.”

“Today, there are many marriages in crisis, young people tempted, the elderly forgotten, children suffering,” he said. “We often see that the nature of the family is under attack by various ideologies, which shake the foundations that support the personality of the human being and, in general, society as a whole.”

Furthermore, he said, within families there is “a gap of understanding” between young and old.

The Holy Father spoke of this chasm between generations during his recent series of general audience talks on the elderly. Pope Francis emphasized the need for a “covenant between generations” that “can save humanity.”

In his talk, the pope encouraged the Schoenstatt Fathers to continue their service to the Church and the world, “especially by accompanying families in the various events and difficulties they are going through.” As missionary disciples, we are called to do the same—be it in our families or when we see our brothers and sisters in Christ and their families facing challenges.

Pope Francis said that preserving one’s “personal and family identity” is more than just passing on one’s genetic traits or last name, “but above all the wisdom of what it means to be human, according to God’s plan.”

“Therefore, the mystery of our redemption is intimately linked to the experience of love within families,” the pope said.

St. John Paul II realized the challenges families in today’s world face. On more than one occasion, he reminded us that all members of the family are called to holiness, and that through continuous prayer as a family and adherence to the sacraments, a family can grow spiritually in communion and love.

Let us never forget, as St. Teresa of Calcutta shared, “The family that prays together, stays together, and if they stay together they will love one another as God has loved each one of them. And works of love are always works of peace.”

—Mike Krokos

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