REFLECTION: Family issues PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 January 2015 12:05

BY FR. ROY CIMAGALA

 

In October of this year in the Vatican, the 14th ordinary general assembly of the synod of bishops will take place with the aim of discussing about the vocation and the mission of the family in the Church and in the contemporary world.

We need to pray and offer a lot of sacrifices for this event that surely will have a significant impact on our lives. The theme is most relevant, but ironically, it is often taken for granted. As a result, many of us are not aware of the increasingly complicated duties and responsibilities in that crucial aspect of our life.

In its working paper, called Lineamenta, the bishops are asked to highlight “the need for mercy in responding to difficult situations—even asking the bishops to avoid basing their pastoral care solely on current Catholic doctrine.”

This is a very delicate step that demands a lot of prayers, sacrifice, study, consultation, etc., since the requirement of fidelity to the faith has to contend with the need for growth and adaptation of the same faith without distorting it.

Faith, of course, is a gift from God. As such, it is one and unchanging, or what is more technically referred to as immutable. But it is not dead or inert. It is very much alive and active, and knows how to tackle any human situation however complicated it may be because of our use or misuse of freedom.

The same Lineamenta asks the bishops to find ways of promoting authentic family values, giving appropriate training of clergy in the family ministry, making the Church more present among those living far away from the Christian faith, enabling the Church to effectively care for families that are wounded and fragile.

Besides, the working paper includes consideration of delicate issues like same-sex marriage, divorce and remarriage, contraception, and cohabitation outside marriage. Of course, there is a caveat that in all these issues, it should be made clear that the basic Catholic doctrine of our faith should not be put in doubt.

Again, this is a very delicate and sensitive phase in the life of the Church. This cannot be treated lightly, and we should not just let our bishops handle all this without the strong and solid support of the rest of the faithful.

Aside from our prayers and sacrifices, the other faithful can contribute by voicing out their observations, suggestions, clarifications based mainly on their first-person experiences as well as studies, both individual and collective. Obviously, our bishops should also listen to them.

We cannot deny that right now the family in general is beset with all sorts of problems and difficulties. Even looking at the local scene, we can already see many dysfunctional and broken families.

The problem is aggravated by many of today’s developments that, while giving us a lot of advantages and conveniences, are also undermining the very foundations and pillars of the family. The pace and complexity of life today has taken a toll on family life and stability.

In many instances, husbands and wives do not live together because one or the other has to look for work abroad. Young couples tie the knot without a clear idea of what a lifetime commitment means and requires. They often base their love on very perishable and expirable foundations, and not on God’s love. In fact, many do not know that human love has to be rooted on divine love.

Again, with the new developments around especially in the field of technology, more division within the family, rather than greater unity, is observed. The gaps are not anymore generational, cultural or social. They are becoming more personal and individualistic.

It’s, of course, good to note that some people are forming private groups where mutual help is extended to promote more family life and harmony. They, for example, monitor developments that have disturbing effects on the family and try to figure out how to handle them. Let’s hope these groups multiply.

They are also putting up schools where parents are made to have a more active role on how these schools should be run, what values ought to be taught or stressed, etc. They have many other good initiatives like erecting appropriate places for family bonding, relaxation and rest.

What we should not forget is that the family is not just any kind of collection of people. It is supposed to reflect the inmost life of God who is one yet a trinity of persons in an eternal relation of knowing and loving. The family is not only human. It’s meant to be divine too.