As we are grateful for the blessing of fathers in our lives on this Father’s Day Weekend, Franciscan Sister of Christian Charity Sister Kathleen Murphy reflects on Pope Francis’ July Prayer Intention for Families.
The month of June calls to mind so many events and themes. It is a time for graduations, weddings, anniversaries and perhaps the beginning of summer adventures. All of these happy happenings can involve the love and support of strong families. Yet we mourn with families in the Ukraine and Russia as well as in Uvalde, Texas and all those places where violence and injustice plague what is meant to be the backbone of society; the family following Christ. Thus we see the importance of Pope Francis’ intention for this month which is: We pray for Christian families around the world; may they embody and experience unconditional love and advance in holiness in their daily lives.
As we consider the importance of the family we can consider the teaching in the Apostolic Constitution on the Family. The Christian family constitutes a specific revelation and realization of ecclesial communion, and for this reason it can and should be called a domestic church’” (2204). To see the family as the Church “in miniature,” and to call the Church itself the “family of God,” are ideas that have been present from the early centuries of Christianity.
In a talk given by Cardinal William J. Levada, he discusses the importance of the Catechism of the Catholic Church in the faith development of the family. He says: Living out the vocation of a “domestic church” is surely no easy task. But for this reason I want to suggest that the Catechism can be a most useful tool for the family in accomplishing its vocation and mission.
He goes on to recommend the Compendium of the Catechism as a tool for parents to use in teaching the Faith. He explains that this text is presented in a briefer question and answer format making the realities of our beliefs more accessible.
As we pray that families will use available resources in making their home a true model of the Church, we can also invoke the intercession of Saints Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux, the only spouses in history to be canonized in the same ceremony. The first gift they gave to their children was their love for each other. Thérèse and her sisters experienced that love every day. This saintly pair understood that their primary duty as spouses and parents was to hand on the Catholic faith to their children. They explained to the girls the meaning of the Apostles Creed. They spoke of the seven sacraments and the graces proper to each of the sacraments. They explained what is commanded and forbidden by each of the Ten Commandments. They not only taught the girls the Lord’s Prayer and the Hail Mary but prayed each day with them. We can ask them to inspire parents today to use the Catechism of the Catholic Church as a guide in following their example.
The following reflection by Father Tommy Lane offers us food for reflection and may be something we can share with those who have the vocation to lead their families to holiness.
If children live with criticism, they learn to condemn.
If children live with hostility, they learn to fight.
If children live with ridicule, they learn to be shy.
If children live with shame, they learn to feel guilty,
On the other hand when we uplift and encourage children we help them for life:
If children live with tolerance, they learn to be patient.
If children live with praise, they learn to appreciate.
If children live with fairness, they learn justice.
If children live with security, they learn to have faith.
If children live with approval, they learn to like themselves.
If children live with acceptance and friendship, they learn to find love in the world.
Joining Pope Francis in prayer for families this month, let us also invoke the words of St. Paul, “Bear with one another charitably, in complete selflessness, gentleness and patience. Do all you can to preserve the unity of the Spirit by the peace that binds you together.” (Eph 4:1-3)