Every day is Family Day

By  Peter Grbac, Youth Speak News
  • February 15, 2008

I couldn’t help but stare in disbelief at the front cover of a major newspaper last semester. A cartoon depicted a same-sex couple gawking at a young couple walking with their child. From the mouths of the same-sex couple was a speech bubble with the bold word “FREAKS!”

The article and statistics that accompanied the cartoon were equally shocking, describing the changing family portraits across the country. According to Statistics Canada, two decades ago, married couples made up 80 per cent of all Canadian families. That number has sunk to an all-time low of 68.6 per cent. As the number of married couples decreased, the number of single parents and common-law couples increased significantly. Twenty years ago, these couples made up 7.2 per cent of Canadian households. Now, they comprise 12.7 per cent of family units. 

The very definition of a family unit is outdated, old fashioned and politically incorrect, according to the secular world. The idea of marriage and parenthood has become so blurred and manipulated in society that it’s not surprising that crime and violence are at all-time highs. In an attempt to accommodate all “types” of families, it is difficult to ask in a modern context, “what exactly is a family?”

In Pope John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, he writes, “The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. The role that God calls the family to perform in history derives from what the family is.... Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored and that specifies both its dignity and responsibility: family, become what you are.”

The image of the Holy Family is a powerful symbol. Mary, Joseph and Jesus are united in a relationship that is humble, beautiful and sincere. A man and woman, united in marriage, together with their child, form a perfect family. Called to partake in the prayer and sacrifice of Christ, the family is essentially the domestic church, the church in the home. Each family unit plays a vital role in the creation of the global church. Stability, compassion and love within the family constitute the foundations for liberty, safety and respect within society. The family unit provides the appropriate environment in which one can begin to learn moral values, honour God and prepare for a life of service in society.

As modern pressures attempt to manipulate the essence of the family unit, Catholics must dedicate more time and energy to ensure the family’s protection. Praying, sharing meals and attending Mass are some of the many ways families may be strengthened. Recently, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty declared Feb. 18 a province-wide Family Day. It is a statutory holiday that does send out a positive message about the importance of family. It is dangerous, however, to relegate the celebration of the family to one day in the entire calendar.

Celebrating family is not something that can be turned on or off like a light bulb. Rather, it is something that must be celebrated and cherished every day — a flame that must burn bright for all to see, regardless of the pressures of social conformity.

(Grbac, 17, is a Grade 12 student at St. Michael’s College School in Toronto.)    

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