Put Out into the Deep

Make Time for the Family

My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord,

Last week, I attended an international conference sponsored by the Pontifical Council for the Family. Held in Milan, Italy, it was entitled “The Family: Work and Celebration.”  My purpose for being there was to make a presentation on the migrant family.  The conference itself was a tremendous undertaking for the Archdiocese of Milan and the Holy See, where an estimated one million people attended from all over the world.

There is no question that the family is the fundamental unit of society.  As Blessed John Paul II once said, “The way the family goes, is the way of the Church.”  We can also add, “The way of the world.”  If family life continues to disintegrate as we witness in our own nation, our nation will be that much weaker.  Families are not only the place where children are socialized, but also the place where the relationships with one another are solidified.  The family is a communion of persons — so much so that many times it has been compared to the communion that exists in the Blessed Trinity.

There is a story I am fond of telling about an exchange between a priest and a little girl. The priest asked a simple question, “Who can make the Sign of the Cross?”  The girl in the front row raised her hand with great enthusiasm. She began, “In the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the mother.”   He did not correct her.  The little girl really stumbled upon a theological insight.  If there is a father and a son, logically there must be a mother.

The love of God is expressed in the Holy Spirit, which is the Third Person that joins the Father and the Son in the communion of beings which is inseparable.  So too must the family have links so inseparable that it is a true communion of persons.  Unfortunately, our society today, with all the issues of divorce, separation and lack of marriage, does not support this vision of family.

In three years, the Pontifical Council for the Family will host its next meeting in Philadelphia. It will be a great boost to our support of the family if people from all over the world come and witness their commitment to one another and to the family.

My presentation in Milan focused on migrant families. (It can be found on our website, www.dioceseofbrooklyn.org.). In our own diocese, the vibrancy of our immigrant families is truly something admirable.  Whenever you ask an immigrant why they have come to the United States, they come primarily for work, but why they come to find work is for their children.  The act of migration reinforces, almost always, the family bonds.

Unfortunately at times there is some disintegration, but it seems to be less the case in migrant families who have a distinct goal to better their lives and to give their children something more than they themselves had.  Two challenges that significantly impact migrant families are the ability to find work and the ability to speak the language of their new country.
Our Family Life Office seeks to be a resource to immigrants and all who live in our diocese by offering Marriage Preparation, Natural Family Planning and ongoing family enrichment programs.  Let us do all in our power to assist families to remain united.

Modern life has us all running ragged. For parents with children, the hectic nature of life is exponentially greater.  As Father of our faith community, I encourage all families to make Sunday a day of thanksgiving to God, in addition to a day of rest and relaxation. To do so requires real discipline to ensure it simply does not become a day to run our errands that have built up over the week or to shuttle our children around to meet the various obligations that take them away from spending time with their parents and siblings. To that end, I have asked CYO directors in our diocese to not schedule games on Sunday if possible and, at a minimum, not until the late afternoon.

Families, as they are constituted in the marriage of a man and woman, truly put out into the deep.  Please join me in asking the Lord to bless the families of our diocese so that they might truly come to understand how work and celebration are inseparable and how the balancing act between them can only be done with God’s help.

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