What Should Family Be?
The World Meeting of Families will occur September 22–27 in Philadelphia. As the preparations continue, it is important to reflect on the importance of family life. We pass on traditions that give our lives special meaning in our families. The signs and symbols that have meaning in our families form and inform our view of the world. My family life was disrupted when my parents got a divorce. However, my paternal grandparents were instrumental in my life and taught me valuable lessons and traditions that I still honor today.
A tradition that was very important to my grandparents was coming together as a family at dinnertime. Every night we would gather for a meal around the dining-room table. During this time, we discussed our days, learned life lessons, and shared stories. No matter how busy we were, we always made time to share our lives with one another around that table. The dining-room table served as a small altar in our house where bread was broken and we supported and encouraged one another.
My experience of family in the home easily translated to my experience of the larger family of the baptized who form the family of God. In fact, our personal families should mirror the family of God. Like all families, we often have disfigured experiences of reality. This even occurs sometimes within our own parishes; however, the ideal expression of family should be in the relationship we have with God and with one another. It is at the altar that we break bread and share our lives; we experience love, encouragement, support, and instruction. And it is at the altar that we recognize we are united in a bond of blood, Christ’s blood. The bond of love that we receive when we take Communion cannot be broken. Christ gives himself to us, and we give ourselves to God. This is a great exchange that forms, informs, and transforms our lives.
So as we look forward to the World Meeting of Families, let’s take time to reflect on how important the family of God is in our lives. Let’s reflect on what family should be and strive to make that ideal situation a reality in our spiritual and our personal families. Let us continue to support one another and live in unity and love. Let us live together to serve our Father in heaven by loving and serving our sisters and brothers in Christ. And let us continue to pass along the traditions that give meaning to our lives, especially the tradition of the Church.