Blessed are those who fear the Lord and walk in his ways. - Ps. 128
This morning I was impressed by the fundamental importance of the family, which this feast of the Holy Family makes evident. It is obvious to me that many of us do not even comprehend how much damage has been done to the very definition of family in our time. Though I'm overly simplifying issues, I'm convinced it began decades ago when artificial contraception was introduced. I also believe the subsequent wars of the 20th century contributed in no small way to the erosion of family life and traditional morality, leading to a sort of 'tolerance' of infidelity and divorce. A great many of us so-called boomers actually come from such dysfunctional, damaged, broken families.
Today, matters are much worse simply because fewer people even get married, or if they do, stay married, and the family unit is often dispersed, or 'extended' beyond conventional parameters. Many people, with or without faith, have attempted to reinvent the ideal family; adding 'extended family members' - live in boyfriends, girlfriends, inventing same-sex marriage, and so on.
Growing up I tried to invent a family for myself with my friends - who became more of a family for me than my real family - I sort of consciously 'divorced ' my dysfunctional natural family, and 'married' my friends. I continued the fantasy in various forms, even adopting superficial family traditions I admired in literature and film. After many of my friends went their separate ways - my cats sort of became my kids, and so on. I think we see this happening around us today - people desperately trying to invent the modern family - rejecting the authentic family archetype that has already been revealed to us. It is a very great loss that the truth of family life has been obscured and turned upside down, inside out, and nearly unrecognizable.
If you are fortunate enough to get Magnificat, the Catholic magazine with the Mass readings of the day and a shortened form of morning and evening prayer, you should read the texts provided for today's feast of the Holy Family. Today's feast is so important for contemporary Catholics to contemplate and enter into. But rather than waste time with my own thoughts, I will share with you some of the better meditations on the family that I found in today's Magnificat.
"The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in marriage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.So you see, if we come from homes of disorder and chaos - like I did, and God only knows how many kids today come from even worse situations, the result can only be disorder and chaos and the absence of love, leading to a confused and desperate search for the love that is unknown and unrequitted.
Willed by God in the very act of creation, marriage and the family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ and have need of his graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their 'beginning,' that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God's plan..." - Bl. John Paul II
"The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love..." - Pope Benedict XVI
"The family is the fundamental project and pursuit of the human person. It is the place in which human life begins, is nurtured, and is cherished. In the family, the human person learns to love by being loved, and learns that each person has an incalculable dignity that must be respected and affirmed in small or great ways each day.God's grace is sufficient to remedy every situation.
In the family, man and woman, husband and wife, mother and father, live a gift of self to each other, and, as an expression of this gift, welcome new life that is entrusted to them. Children experience, from their mother and their father, the full range of complimentary human experiences and emotions, learning naturally that the human person is a being that comes from love, and for which the pursuit of an eternal, transcendent love is the ultimate desire. In this experience of the human person as male and female, and as coming from and going to love, the family finds its role as the cradle and school of humanity." - Anna Halpine
Disclaimer: I don't mean to offend readers who happen to be in unconventional family arrangements. I respect your efforts and convictions, though we disagree on Church teaching, you have a great responsibility for those under your care and I pray and wish you all that is good and every blessing. God bless you. Nothing is impossible with God...