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Updating the family

December 28, 2009

CHRISTMAS time is obviously family time. Letís thank God that in our country we still see this equation largely lived happily. Letís pray that in other places, especially in developed countries, the same ideal can also take place. We cannot deny that it is not quite so in many of them, including parts of ours.

We see rising cases of dysfunctional families, with marriages defaced by infidelities and unrefreshed love and a sense of commitment unable to ďResetĒ when needed, childrenís neglect, family life reduced to a minimum, etc.

The family always deserves our utmost attention. We should not be naÔve to think that we can take our duties and responsibilities toward it for granted. Especially now, tricky and openly difficult challenges confront it. We have to be aware of them and try to do something about them.

We need to repair the damages, heal the wounds and plot out the paths to make the family healthy, vibrant and capable to do its sacred duty of nurturing persons and citizens.

Letís remember that we can never outgrow the need for the family, no matter how old, mature and independent we can be. Even those who lead a prominently spiritual and celibate life need it.

Itís a requirement of our nature, given by God and not by some human consensus. The family is a divine creation, before it is a human institution.

With family life given a boost during this Christmas holidays, letís take the time to see what we can do to reinforce the family, both in general and in individual cases. Letís not waste the opportunity by spending it solely on having fun. Itís a time for discerning, anticipating, planning things for the family.

May it be that in every level of our life, this concern for the family is taken up seriously. For the Church, for example, there should be abiding diocesan and parochial efforts to help the family in some concrete way, an effort translated into continuing prayers, sacrifices and timely reminders.

For example, the preparation for couples for marriage should be attended to well. Effective programs to nourish coupleís conjugal love should be developed.

Prompters about the evil of contraception, the RH bill, etc. should be frequently made since this now constitutes clear and present danger to marriages.

The government and NGOs should also do the same, trying to figure out the issues families in general are now facing and tackling. There are many of them. Itís good to have a systematic and massive approach to this, monitoring the relevant developments closely and ever presenting solutions.

For one, it pains me to see some workers pressured to do overtime work at the expense of their family life. Stories I hear about inhuman pressures suffered by call center agents are really depressing. The problems involved should be addressed.

Also the environment, especially that part known also as the human ecology, should be continually cleaned and renewed to foster family life among the people. This area is often ignored, its challenges not taken up adequately.

There are situations that undermine the familyís vitality. Pornography, unregulated means of amusement and recreation, etc., are now going viral. People get unduly absorbed by new technologies at the expense of family life.

Obviously, the spouses and the other members of the family should do their part to enrich their family life. Quality time together should be fostered, planned and defended against factors that tend to undermine it. Affection, good manners should be shown in any weather.

Everyone should try his best to be generous in this area, always thinking of details that can brighten the home and warm the relationships among all the family members, heroically fighting against tiredness, attachments, personal preferences, selfishness, etc.

In this regard, the little things of everyday count a lot and are, in fact, the main ingredient to strengthen the bonds of the family. We need to take advantage of these little things in our family life to culture our love for God and for others. Thereís actually no other way as basic as this one.

For this purpose, it might be good to realize the need for us to develop a devotion to the Holy Family. Our families should be a reflection, if not a participation in that family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, where everything good for us was lived to the max and continues to be lived.

We should never fail to realize the need to use spiritual and supernatural means, without neglecting the human instruments, to develop our families.