YES, we need to empower the family, especially the parents, so it can fulfill all its duties and responsibilities, especially the most basic ones that are related, more than anything else, to the spiritual life of all members in the family.
The family is not just some collection of parents and children whose main concern is meeting the material or emotional needs of all its members, or some generic human needs.
The family is a human family, not just an animal family, and as such it has a nature that corresponds to the dignity of our human nature, that gives primary importance to the spiritual dimension which essentially distinguishes us from the other animals. Thus, our Catechism defines it as:
â€œA man and a woman united in marriage form a family together with their children. God instituted the family and endowed it with its fundamental constitution. Marriage and the family are ordered to the good of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children.
â€œMembers of the same family establish among themselves personal relationships and primary responsibilities. In Christ the family becomes the domestic church because it is a community of faith, of hope, and of charity.â€ (Compendium 456) We have to make everyone more aware of this distinguishing character of the family. Itâ€™s its spiritual dimension that defines and separates the human family from other forms of family in the natural world.
Because of that, the family cannot but be â€œa community of faith, hope, and charityâ€ which is what it ultimately is and what would properly nourish and develop it. Itâ€™s not just some objects of the natural world, no matter how brilliant or practical these objects are, since these do not give us the original basis of what is to be human.
At best, these natural objects of our spiritual faculties of intelligence and will are mere manifestations of our humanity, and also the means and occasions to affirm the real source and basis of our humanity, which is God, our Creator, in whose image and likeness we have been created.
We need to make this fundamental truth about ourselves more known and appreciated, so we can correspond and act on it with greater consistency. We have to get to a level higher than the status quo insofar as our understanding of the family is concerned.
Especially these days when we all are practically faced with delicate and complicated issues, when a lot of ideologies are sowing error and confusion, mixing true and valid points with false and distorted values, we need to equip the family properly because it serves as the primary defense of any individual, even before schools, churches and other institutions can help.
This, of course, is not going to be an easy job. We are aware of the many inadequacies that families now have as well as the increasing dangerous influences and conditionings that they are exposed to. But thatâ€™s the challenge we just have to face and learn to resolve.
Obviously parents, especially the young ones and those whose formation may not have been good, need a lot of help. Catechesis for them is necessary, but a lot more are needed. Itâ€™s good that there are groups organized by the churches and some private institutions that try to meet this need, but more groups are needed.
Parents should be encouraged to teach catechism to their children in ways that would come out natural. They have to learn how to discern the spiritual development of their children, like how their children are thinking, desiring, working, or how they are acquiring virtues, developing concern for others, handling difficulties,Â or appreciating the need for prayers, sacrifice, sacraments, etc.
Yes, itâ€™s true that parents should respect the freedom of their children, but this should not be taken to mean indifference to the requirements of the proper development of their children. If thereâ€™s true love for the children, parents should get actively involved in the most intricate but also crucial aspect of their childrenâ€™s lives.
There actually are endless things to look into, and everyone simply has to understand that these come with the territory insofar is parenthood is concerned. They are not optional. They are necessary duties for which the parents have to be properly trained and equipped.
To repeat, marriage, family and parenthood are not simply oriented to our material and temporal concerns. They are intrinsically linked to our spiritual nature and dignity. We have to correspond as fully and as faithfully to this fundamental truth about ourselves. This is very serious business! (By Fr. Roy Cimagala)