By Ottrisha Carter
As part of the ongoing initiatives of the Year of the Amoris Laetitia family, on March 5, the Episcopal Delegate of the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC), Tricia Syms facilitated a virtual session with representatives of 20 Family Life Units (FLU).
The topic was ‘Remote Marriage Preparation’. Syms led the participants in the Introduction and Chapter 1 of the book Parenting Your Kids with Grace by Dr Greg and Lisa Popcak.
Syms invited the participants to meditate on the song ‘Your Grace is Sufficient’ from 2 Corinthians 12:9. Reflecting on the song, Syms shared, “God has promised us that His grace is sufficient for us and as Catholic parents, … we will mess up because of original sin and so on but God’s grace continues to be enough for us. That’s what being a Catholic parent is about …”
To continue, Syms asked the participants to share some of the challenges they experience as parents. Alicia explained, “I’m challenged with energy, needing to make space… in all the different ways that they need me and then make space for me to rest, relax, read.”
Natasha stated, “giving into the will of God in the lives of my children … hoping that I don’t impose my will and what society expects of them but the true will of God for their lives.”
Participants reflected on the role that perfectionism plays in their lives. According to Syms, “If we are to check perfectionism at the door, God is asking us to trust Him…we can trust Him and that’s not easy but it’s possible only by God’s grace.”
Exploring the point that parenting is meant to stretch parents and challenge them to love more every day, Syms explained how parenting takes us to “a different kind of place, to open up our hearts”. In response, Luscia stated, “… one of the things that I’m enjoying doing but it’s a bit challenging is knowing when not to say anything, but I’m really trying to trust God and have the grace not to comment on everything.”
Syms highlighted the importance of parents being patient with themselves, remembering that God is with them in their joys and sorrows. “There’s a big difference in letting God stretch us and doing what He wants us to do with our children and we wanting to prove to everybody else that we could do it on our own …,” she advised.
Syms acknowledged that family life can be messy at times “but God’s grace is sufficient for us in the middle of the mess…”
She enlightened the participants with the good news that God is their co-parent, highlighting that the Catechism of the Catholic Church 239 states, “… parents, … are in a way the first representatives of God for man.”
Participants were reminded that their children are precious gifts from God, and they belong to God. She further explained that “God gave these children to us because He wants them to be able to feel His love and see His face” through their parents’ bodies.
Parents were encouraged to: “Teach your children that as much as you love them, God loves them more.”
The AFLC is encouraging parishes to send representatives to the monthly FLU meeting as we continue to focus on the strengthening and formation in the pastoral care of the family.
Please contact the AFLC at 299-1047 or email@example.com for more information on getting your parish FLU started, strengthened, and formed for the mission of the Church.