Lenten Campaign : Week 3

Lenten Campaign : Week 3

In the capital city of Maweni, there lived a very wealthy family. Husband, wife and their two children — a daughter and a son — operated many large shops, rental flats and buses that served the area and other neighbouring countries.

The family’s two children studied at a prestigious school where they were always transported to and from in a luxurious bus. Husband and wife employed many servants at their home to care for their daughter and son as most of the time they were out of the country on business trips and, therefore, did not have enough time to bring up their children, including imparting important social and religious values.

As time went by, the children’s behaviour started to deteriorate. They stopped going to school and instead spent all their time on expensive leisure time activities and entertainment. The boy started using drugs and was ultimately recruited into an outlawed gang. The girl moved from one entertainment joint to the other, spent nights away from home and engaged in promiscuous activities.

The family’s lifestyle continued to take a toll on the children but the parents were too busy to notice the deteriorating situation. Five years on, the boy tested HIV positive. The sister at one time nearly died while procuring an abortion. Since their parents could afford it, they took the children to several prestigious and expensive hospitals abroad for treatment and rehabilitation.

In the meantime, the parents pointed accusing fingers at each other for the children’s problems. Constant fighting and arguments between husband and wife became commonplace. Some of their neighbours tried to intervene but this bore no fruit. A priest was invited to talk to the couple. As a true servant of God, guided by the Holy Spirit, the priest managed to reconcile the couple. The family began a new phase in their lives, started going to church and joined church groups. The couple recognised that they had a joint responsibility to guide and care for their children despite all that had happened.

Situational analysis

The human person is not only sacred but also social. How we organise our society — in economics and politics, in law and policy — directly affects human dignity and the capacity of individuals to grow in a community.

Marriage and the family are central social institutions that must be supported and strengthened, not undermined. As the smallest social unit in society, the family’s protection and strengthening is essential to the flourishing of larger social units.

The Church has identified the crisis of faith and family life, critical situations within the family and external pressure on the family as some of the key pastoral challenges of the family.

The crisis of faith and family life can be an opportunity for growth and a means of strengthening the marriage bond with a supportive parish and Church. Pope Francis recommends that: “Families, willing to offer support to a couple in this difficult situation, can help them overcome this crisis. In particular, the parish must draw near married couples and the family as the “family of families”.

On critical situations within the family, the universal Church identified

difficulty in relationships and communication; the break up and breakdown of families; violence and abuse; and lastly, dependence, the media and the social network. There are growing tensions and conflicts in marriage for lack of mutual trust and intimacy, the domination of one marriage partner over the other or the inter-generational conflict between parents and children. Other critical situations include single parenthood, homosexual unions and the widespread practice of abortion. Laws like the Marriage Act, 2014, Matrimonial Property Act, 2013, and the Reproductive Health Bill, 2014, are threats to marriage and families in many ways. They raise the question of whether the Government is adequately protecting the family.

The Church is concerned with the many cases of psychological, physical and sexual violence and abuse in families, which have a particular damaging effect on women and children. Sexual promiscuity and incest in the family as well as paedophilia and child abuse abound. Lack of care and attention to children has led to a growing dependence on media and social networks as the alternative source of socialisation and means of communication, negatively affecting the family with mistaken and misleading values.

External pressures on the family include the impact of work on the wellbeing of the family. The hectic, fast and exhausting pace of work hinders the possibility of a family spending time together. Increasing job insecurity, rising unemployment and the need to travel greater distances to work, have taken their toll on family life; causing fragile endurance of emotional relationships, deep discomfort and instability in family life. Other challenges on the families include the weight of societal expectation on the individual, wars, particularly in Africa, and diseases.

Pope John Paul II in his teaching about family stresses that every child born to a family is a gift and a benefit not only to his or her mother, father, brothers or sisters, but also to the entire community into which he or she is born. The family is the temple where the flame of life is transmitted. It is a temple dedicated to the Lord of Life. The family is naturally ordered to serve what Pope John Paul II has called the Evangelium vitae, meaning the Gospel of Life.

Throughout the centuries, the Church has maintained her constant teaching on marriage and family. One of the highest expressions of this teaching was proposed by the Second Vatican Council, in the Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et Spes, which devotes an entire chapter to promoting the dignity of marriage and the family.

Pope Paul VI, in his Encyclical Humanae Vitae, displayed the intimate bond between conjugal love and the generation of life. He called the family the “way of the Church,” and proposed the basic guidelines for the pastoral care of the family and the presence of the family in society.

Pope Benedict XVI, in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est, emphasised: “Marriage based on an exclusive and definitive love becomes the icon of the relationship between God and his people and vice versa. God’s way of loving becomes the measure of human love.”

On family and faith, Pope Francis, in his encyclical Lumen Fidei, writes: “Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but something which enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. It assures us that this love is trustworthy and worth embracing, for it is based on God’s faithfulness which is stronger than our every weakness” (LF, 53).

Readings

Exodus 20:1-17

1 Corinthians 1:22-25

John 2:13-25

The Commandments are there to guide us into living a moral and loving life. Today, more than ever, we are being bombarded by ideologies that want to do away with morality from the society. For us Christians, we proclaim the crucified Christ. We must resist the temptations of the world that dilute the teaching of the Church on morality. We must always return to God’s house where we shall have a true worship in truth and spirit. We must expel those who bring false teachings that are opposed to Christ.

How can we reinstate morality in our homes and communities?

Act

  1. What can we do as family or Small Christian Community to promote Christian values in our families?
  2. What challenges are we facing in bringing up our children and how are we addressing them?
  3. What do you think is the right moment for the Church to intervene in trying to solve the challenges facing the family?
  4. How are you involving your family in activities of your parish as a Christian?
  5. How can we assist families with such challenges?
  6. What are the challenges facing the families?
  7. How can the Church make sure that she has the ability of caring for couples and families in difficulty?

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