Reclaiming our family spirituality 2
Family Spirituality for what?
In our world, there are tens of thousands of souls who are yearning and looking for the best way to live and lead a better life. The need for a better life is growing daily and it is becoming more difficult if not impossible to fulfill it. Reason – the foundations of our human life are almost shattered and distorted (the family). So, when you ask many families to define and defend their spirituality, the question many ask is: family spirituality for what? What many think and know about the family is from the commonsense point of view which says a family is “…a union of a man and a woman for the purpose of physical and emotional security, and sexual gratification. From this union, children may be born and the race perpetuated.” Nevertheless, many are thinking differently about the commonsense meaning/original meaning of a family. Hence, we hear of same sex union and other similar activities.
On the other hand, many families lack a sense of direction and they rarely know that there are other higher values that a family is supposed to be conscious of and work towards. Many families are just interesting in surviving but not living life and living it to the full. This is as good as saying that we may have missed our vision, mission and focus. Therefore, the Decree on the Apostolate of Lay People, Apostolicam Actuositatem, of the Second Vatican Council has beautifully offered us a sense of direction and a way out of our challenge. To this end it gives us the mission of the family as follows:
The mission of being the primary vital cell of society has been given to the family by God himself. This mission will be accomplished if the family, by the mutual affection of its members and by family prayer, presents itself as a domestic sanctuary of the Church; if the whole family takes its part in the Church’s liturgical worship; if, finally, it offers active hospitality, and practices justice and other good works for the benefit of all its brethren suffering from want.
From the mission of the family above, we can conveniently deduce the goals or ends of the family spirituality as: transcendence, transformation and integration. These are drawn from the experiences of psychologists, and experts in religion and spirituality.
Transcendence: Does your family promote the value of awe/wonder that is associated with the supernatural and mysterious Being? Does your family acknowledge the reality/existence of a higher Being called God and live, interpret and understand things according to the mind of God? Is this why the Church asserts in the definition of the mission of the family that the family in order to achieve transcendence should “presents itself as a domestic sanctuary of the Church; … (and) the whole family (to) take its part in the Church’s liturgical worship”? By transcendence, it means you are able to move beyond conventional limits about God. It means completely recognizing the fact that God’s thoughts are beyond our thoughts (Is. 55: 9); God’s ways are beyond our ways (Hos. 2: 19-20); God’s power transcends our power (Heb. 11:3; Eph. 1:18-21); and God’s wisdom transcends our wisdom (I Cor. 1:25; Rom. 11:33). Families need to worship God in spirit and in truth (John 4:23-24). This calls for a strong passion for God and the Truth. Many families today are neither hot nor cold for God. Liberate your family from this shackles and be the Joshua of your family. Joshua told the children of Israel: “But if serving the LORD seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you are living. But as for me and my household, we will serve the LORD” (Josh. 24:15).
- What role has your family played in the liturgy (worship) of the Church? What is your relationship with the Holy Mass (Sundays and weekdays)? How do you treasure the Holy Eucharist/Holy Communion and Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament?
From Jesus Christ: “I am with you until the end of time” (Matt. 28:20). Rev. Fr. John-Mary Atep