Often, we hear that the family is the basic cell of society. What’s the condition of the many ‘cells’ which constitute the body of society, and how do we envisage the development of the whole and the parts on which the burden of holistic being depends?
Really, families often have fun. But dig a bit deeper and one uncovers fragile parts and connections, brave souls, limited whilst striving for perfection. If we’re honest, that’s the reality of marriages and parenting, every day, as families of all kinds shape routines to make their way in the world.
But good news! There’s hope for building strength and re-laying better foundations for growth.
Weakness in family life is sometimes excused by the saying that there’s no manual for parenting. Let’s debunk that, by going to sound scriptural teachings which have borne good fruit.
Who’s in control, after God, the Father? A local orator, Deborah Jean Baptiste-Samuel tells of a mother having disciplined her toddler and the child turning and slapping the mother and she in turn grinning, looking around as if for validation of the ‘cuteness’ of the wayward infant! Hmmm…recipe for disaster in a very few years!
The prophets among us, religious and secular, speak truth to power to parents and politicians, notwithstanding that ‘rebels’ may claim freedom of choice.
A multidisciplinary approach of faith practices, psychological care and listening fora is needed, as are ‘prophets’ seeding the urgently needed conversation among families, parents, and caregivers on new directions in family spirituality and ministry.
The Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) is taking up the challenge to give life to Apostolic Exhortations to urgently address the needs. The Papal encyclical Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) points to how problems are formulated and addressed for local relevance and cultural reality.
The 2016 document builds on the deliberations of the 2014 and 2015 Synods on Family. Theologians, social scientists, and other experienced family practitioners have begun to frame the questions and situations.
By mid-July, the AFLC will host a virtual conversation using a template on ‘Renewing Catholic Family Life’. Questions to be addressed include: How are Catholic parents and children called to relate differently to each other than their non-Catholic counterparts?
What does an authentic domestic-church-based spirituality look like? How can Catholic families be more effective forges of intentional discipleship and do a better job of raising the next generation of intentional disciples?
How can Catholic families fulfil their role to be the primary outposts of evangelisation and positive social change?
If conversations like this catch fire, the Spirit of counsel, understanding, wisdom, perseverance, fear of the Lord will infuse the everyday lives of families, empowering them to resist rebellious trends, non-lifegiving habits and celebrity parenting which offer glitz, but no real gain for wholesome living.
A renewed approach to working on family life-building will see us supporting each other, respecting the other, valuing elder/youth interaction, trusting each other.
Families, Church, and secular leaders should then be disposed to better understand how people experience and endure distress, how sex in relationships can be enriched over time to even more beautiful intimacy, how untraditional families may be welcomed in community life, without alienation and victimisation.
Intentional investment of quality time, talent and treasure will support more relevant catechetical formation, better teaching and learning practice at all levels, discernment of gifts, mission, and authentic family witness in a vibrant Caribbean callaloo.
We look forward to new ways of thinking, communicating, and behaving in our homes and wider society.