Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Oneness of Faith and Life

The Bible and Life magazine had a series of articles on the family experience of faith, recently, and one of the articles by a priest asked the question: If there had to be a choice between faith or study what would the parents decide?  Most of the parents, he believes, would come down on the side of study, because we have been programed for this choice by society. And yet the question presents us with a great challenge.

If society had a proper appreciation of the family and its role as the basic unit of society, there would be a great change in society, the priest said. Our schooling, he believes, tend to weaken the role the family should have. This is also true for the religious education of the children if it is completely passed on to the Church and their Sunday school programs. A lot of the blame can be placed on the fast-changing society we live in, but the parent's non-interest can't be overlooked as contributing to the problem.

Because of the great growth of the Church in the 80s, it has not come to grips with many of these issues. One of the most important is the separation of life from faith, the failure to engage the faith in one's life. Parents are more interested in having children seek financial success and honors than being a Christian. Without the help of the family in providing the faith atmosphere for growth, children will grow up with a dysfunctional faith life, an opposition to faith, and passivity or tepidity to religious matters. He offers us three ways to keep this from happening.

First, foster an appreciation of the parent's obligation to the children: They are a gift of God and have to be led into a relationship with God by the parents.

Secondly, Because parents are teaching by everything they say and do, they are the model of what the Christian life will be to the children.

Thirdly, the parents will need help with this, and that means a relationship with the larger community of  the Church. This requires that we change from pastoral care that focuses only on the individual, and focuses more on the family, supporting them in their efforts  to become holy.

The formation of family and faith life should be seen as one. With the separation of faith from life, this often results in a  lopsided approach to living. Children have to experience the love of God, to know they are loved, and to show  this love to others. This will require, the priest says, forming holy families and helping the Church to be a loving community--a community that will be a light and salt to the greater community of society.

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