A family is the place, where you feel cared and loved. It is one of the most beautiful units of living together in the history of human civilization. It is the principal cell or building block of human society. The family occupies a central place in the life and mission of the Church. The Church regards each family as a domestic unit of the Universal Church. It is where faith is cultivated, nurtured and lived. A family which lives in harmony and charity is an earthly embodiment of heavenly bliss. Such a family provides an ambience where one learns to honour, love and care for others. When God became man, he lived in a family. By doing so, He sanctified family life and confirmed its prime position in His eternal plan for humanity.
Despite its manifold contributions to the cause of humanity over the centuries, family life currently faces many a challenge that seems to undermine its very existence and relevance. The shift in social, economic, political and cultural changes have made life in a family more challenging than ever before. We are faced with an unprecedented increase in the number of divorced couples. The plight of children, who face abuse and torture in their own families, where they are supposed to be safe, is heartrending. Domestic violence and substance abuse make family life miserable for many women, who are at the receiving end of the evils of a patriarchal society like ours. On top of that, there are many young men and women who prefer to live together, devoid of any marital commitment. Perhaps, they must have been deterred by the way family life is lived out by many. Civil union between people of the same sex has further altered the scope and meaning of family life considerably.
What is more disturbing is that the members of the same family live as though they are strangers. The proliferation of modern electronic gadgets and a hectic lifestyle prevent them from living their common life in its fullness. Children grow up seeing their parents languishing in their own private zones. The parents have forgotten what it means to know each other and their children in their frantic search for more profit. The table fellowship, which nurtures interpersonal relationships, has ceased to exist in some families. The older members are often neglected and are left to spend the evening of their life in desolation and loneliness.
The need of the hour is resurgence in the way family life is lived out in many of our communities. Of late, there have been some attempts in this direction. The Church, sensing the urgency of the situation, convened a Synod on Family Life in 2015. It is highly important to reinvent and rediscover the beauty of family life, to make it relevant and meaningful in this era of media and technology explosion. Our families must provide a milieu where free and frank conversations take place, where all can sit around the same table and partake of the common meal, where one is free to make mistakes and rectify them and where life grows and blooms in its fullness. “A family that prays together stays together.” The time spent in fruitful faith sharing and spiritual nourishment will cement their ties all the more strongly. A family thus strengthened spiritually and emotionally will bear true witness to human fellowship and oneness.
[ Ivin is a 1st year Philosophy student at JDV]