Rebinding Family Ties
At a May 26 Mass in the Vatican’s St. Martha guesthouse, Pope Francis told attendees about “three things, three steps that take us away from Jesus: wealth, vanity, and pride.” If “the beginning of pride is stubbornness” (Sirach 10:12) and pride is an offense to the Holy Spirit, it’s clear why “pride goes before disaster, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Diane’s family get-together is two weeks away. No need to fret, though. The agenda seems simple enough: arrive at 2 pm, greet everyone she sees, except her sister, and leave by 4 pm to get to Bible study on time. Wait. Except her sister? Why isn’t she speaking to her sister?
It is noteworthy to highlight the prevalence of the lack of communication among family members. The heartache can sound like this: One time my mom didn’t speak to me for three days. I was twelve years old. My dad was too drunk to notice and my siblings didn’t seem to care. When emotional silence touches a life, the result is heartache and despair. Pain from a lost relationship is complex and can manifest itself through stages of grief similar to that of mourning the death of a loved one. A person can experience denial, anger, and guilt—which can lead to depression and suicide—or make a conscious choice to reconcile. Reconciliation is always God’s preference. As Pope Francis tweeted on March 9, 2015, “Humility saves man: pride makes him lose his way.”
Abbot John Braganza, OSBC, at Westminster Abbey in Mission, British Columbia, Canada, speaks about communication being a family matter, which begins within the nucleus of the family. Abbot John says, “In the heart of God there is a communication of love, of truth and life all wrapped in unity. Between a husband and wife in marriage, God begins the beautiful imitation of his own inner life of intimate life of communication. This communication flows into the habits of the children when they see and witness it in all its human expressions. Healthy family life is about this total healthy communication of love and truth and affection between parents and children and between siblings among themselves.”
The world is filled with families who are close. They gather for holidays, birthdays, baptisms, or any reason to be together. They exhibit a wholesome, healthy lifestyle, but it’s not that way with everyone. Some families don’t gather at all. Yet they deny anything is amiss. Some families don’t talk for years. Has this sentiment been passed down from generation to generation? What causes this emotional disconnection that wedges families apart, and why is it so challenging to put things right? In researching the topic, I placed an inquiry in a local paper asking for personal experiences that relate to lack of communication within a family….