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Editorial: Celebrate family

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  • April 29, 2021

As the story goes … a doctor asked a patient if anyone in his family suffered from insanity. “No,” he replied. “We all seem to enjoy it.”

Who hasn’t had moments when the ups and downs of family life drove you at least a little around the bend? Then again, who said families were perfect? They aren’t; that is their curse and their charm and their strength.

“I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfilling their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way,” Pope Francis wrote in Amoris Laetitia, the apostolic exhortation marking its fifth anniversary this year.

“The life of every family is marked by all kinds of crises, yet these are also part of its dramatic beauty. Couples should be helped to realize that surmounting a crisis need not weaken their relationship; instead, it can improve, settle and mature the wine of their union.”

In this year of St. Joseph (the ultimate “Dad”), during the anniversary of Amoris Laetitia, on the cusp of the Canadian Church’s annual Week for Life and Family (May 9-16), and in this month of Mary our Mother, could there be any better time than now to reflect on the role and importance of the family?

Of course, holding up any family to the standards of the Holy Family doesn’t seem fair on the surface. After all, two its members were without sin. Nevertheless, we’re sure families today share the same hopes and aspirations the Holy Family did in terms of providing a secure, loving and nurturing environment. As the Pope has noted, families do not “drop down from Heaven perfectly formed.”

We have been hearing a lot about the “Domestic Church.” It is, by numbers, the smallest unit within the Catholic Church. The first is the Universal Church, led by the Pope. The diocesan Church, led by your local bishop, is next, followed by the local parish Church. The Domestic Church is where we live most of our lives, nestled within the family unit.

It is where we learn and practise faith in very real ways, from bedtime prayers to teaching the fundamentals of hope, faith and charity. It is where love underpins all, whether coated in triumphs, tragedies or mistakes. It is the first port of call for evangelization. It is where loving your neighbour and setting a good example are more than just catch phrases. It is, in a very real sense, where God lives.

The nature of families can be pretty complex of course, and at best a work in progress. Even the Holy Family had some trying times (witness a frantic Mary and Joseph searching for their 12-year-old child for three days in Jerusalem). It is an ever maturing love for each other, and in God, that sustains the family.

Ultimately, as the first words of Amoris Laetita proclaim, “The joy of love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.”

In a world going through some very trying times, we need to remember and celebrate that fundamental truth.

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