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Families, icons of the Trinity

By Ottrisha Carter

The virtual training of members of Family Life Units (FLU) continued April 23 with discussions on school violence and the role of parents in light of their journey exploring the Remote Marriage Preparation, the second chapter of  the book Parenting Your Kids with Grace.

To begin, Tricia Syms, the Episcopal Delegate for the Archdiocesan Family Life Commission (AFLC) stated, “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church ‘CCC’, 2205).

In response to the question, what is God asking you to do to help families? Sandra, a participant, shared that “God is asking me to get out of my comfort zone and try to assist families – physically, financially, emotionally, psychologically –  who need help and don’t know how to ask for it. We need to get close to people, develop a relationship with them and try to help out certain families through giving advice, helping with homework… try to help one family and not bad talk or criticise people for how they are bringing up their children because you need the Holy Spirit moving in a family for it to really flourish.”

Syms highlighted the importance of prayer in parents’ lives and shared that “The more we pray, the more our prayer is honest and the more we pray in a heartfelt manner, the more we reveal our inner life, our hopes, our dreams, our fears and our desires to God. … the more God reveals something about Himself to us.”

Luscia, another participant, commented, “I am wondering if we are teaching our children how much God loves them, so that they can allow His love to transform them.” She questioned and quickly suggested, “maybe the first quarter of every programme should be on God’s love for each person and base everything we want to teach children on God’s love.”

Syms mentioned that, “God has revealed to the Church about His inner life, in His very nature, He is a family. God is one God, but three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.” She further explained, “The love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity is a familial kind of love.”

Jason (participant) shared that, “coming out of the synod listening sessions, parents and youths said they wanted the same things. However, one party wanted to pressure the other to receive it.”

Damian (participant) said, “it is very easy to become a parent, but it is challenging to be a parent”, and was happy that the Church is getting information on the challenges being met by families.

Participants were encouraged to understand, “God created the human family in His image and likeness so that when people see the way Christian families love one another, they might get a little peek at what God’s love looks like. That’s why the Church calls Christian families ‘icons of the Trinity’.” Damian stated, “in the education system, children have issues, and they cannot talk to their parents. Parents are in dire need of parenting skills….equipped with alternative means of parenting other than being forceful, corporal punishment and being abusive.”

Alicia (participant) said: “We always talk about each of us being made in the image and likeness of God, but it was a new thought to me that the family is created in the image and likeness of the Trinity. …”

She will “continue to advocate for children to be seen as human beings and not monsters”, along with “systems and support – big brother system, after school support, homework centres, foodbank… and access to counselling.”

Syms emphasised that the challenge of love does not entail doing it perfectly. She acknowledged that, “God wants to fill our hearts with His love and wants us to do our best to pass on that love to our children.” That love can only be passed on by connecting with God’s love.

She encouraged participants to remember “it’s not about being the perfect parent, it’s about being a praying parent”. Sandra replied: “true prayer is when you actually could relate, to live that prayer, to bring that prayer alive into action. …”

Syms enlightened the participants: “As Catholic parents, it’s not our place to decide how much love we [are] going to give our children … We are God’s face … and God wants us to love our children, with as much as we possibly can.” Gail (participant)  commented: “The whole concept of God, the Trinity as family, … [is] bringing into a greater reality the role of parents nurturing their children … in the Christian family.”