Tuesday, May 14, 2013
May is the month of the family. When we say family, says the desk columnist of the Catholic Times, thoughts of joy and hope should come to mind. Instead, we are more likely to think of conflict between husband and wife, children disobeying parents, parents abusing children--the traditional family closeness is disappearing.
The integrity of the modern family is faced with threatening influences, he says, that did not exist in the past. Fierce competition for college entrance that worries not only the aspiring student but the whole family; the confusion of values that comes with excessive competition obscures the direction of life, putting us on a materialist treadmill; unnecessarily costly weddings are breaking up the family way of life, which leads to the one-child syndrome.
Society with its materialist values, its focus on physical rather than spiritual realities, tends to create an unhealthy model for families to emulate, such as working hard to build a beautiful house and neglecting to build a home. There is, of course, no problem in living well when one does not have a nice house. It may be uncomfortable when the house is a problem, but without a loving family, the problem can become a tragedy. And one of the tragedies of an unhealthy family is that it often gives rise to the delinquency of the young.
This is one of the worries and problems of our families today. When the family goes astray everything is out of balance. The family is like a barricade, says the columnist, that keeps the flood waters out. This is something we all know, he says, but we don't find it easy to put into practice. One way is for each member of the family to respect each other; without this caring for each other, the family itself cannot be respected. The husband needs to respect the wife, the wife the husband, the parents the children, the children the parents. It is, he says, the first order of business.
All of us should ask ourselves how much of the problems of modern families do we acknowledge and empathize with. The columnist does not give himself high marks on this score. The reasons for family problems are many, from financial worries to personal discord, but they all originate, he says, in a lack of oneness as family. He uses an analogy to illustrate this point: When flying a kite, if the string is strong no matter how strong the wind blows there is no problem. The journalist considers the string our faith life. With this belief in God, the family will be able to overcome the difficulties they encounter. This is our call, he says, and he wants us to reflect on this call during this month of May.