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I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfil their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way. The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereotype of the ideal family, but rather a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all their joys, hopes and problems. [57]

This quote is from Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Amoris Laetitia, or “The Joy of Love,” which looks specifically at love in the family. He has named this year the “Amoris Laetitia” Year of the Family. Using quotes from the document, we can take some time to reflect on ways for families to grow in faith. 

May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us. [325]

We cannot share the faith with others if we are not nourishing our own relationship with God. Take time to grow in faith as an individual as well as a couple. Look to your parish for resources or ministries. You may want to participate in a Scripture guild, join a small group or pray together more as a couple. Spend time with the Lord to determine where he is asking you to grow personally and in your vocation.

Faith is God’s gift, received in baptism, and not our own work, yet parents are the means that God uses for it to grow and develop. [287]

Parents help their children grow as disciples. You can model the faith to your children and help them discover ways to personally live out the faith. Some ways to consider are: 

  • Pray for your children and pray with them as well. Taking their concerns or celebrations to prayer together not only shows them that we can turn to God in all things but will help them be more comfortable praying with others. 
  • Let your children see you seek the sacraments. Show as well as tell them why the Eucharist is important to you. Go to the sacrament of reconciliation regularly; take your children to the church with you and offer them the opportunity to receive the sacrament if they choose. 
  • Call on the saints. Pick a patron saint for your family and celebrate their feast day. Find saints that share the interests of your children and call on them (ex/ St. Sebastian for athletes, St. Martha for bakers, Blessed Carlo Acutis for computer programmers, etc.) When you pray together, ask for their intercession as well. 
  • Use 52 Sundays to help your family build a rhythm of living out the faith in your daily lives. 

By their witness as well as their words, families speak to others of Jesus. They pass on the faith, they arouse a desire for God and they reflect the beauty of the Gospel and its way of life. (184)

Families have the opportunity and responsibility to witness their faith to those around them: friends, neighbors, classmates, coworkers and in their parish or larger community. What that looks like for each family will vary. Archbishop Vigneron reinforces this in Unleash the Gospel,

The witness of a joyful family life rooted in the Gospel can be a spiritual oasis for people in contemporary society. How many have never experienced a family life characterized by warmth, mutual affection, honor, forgiveness, and peace? In order to form healthy Christian families themselves, they need to see what it looks like; they need both teaching and models. I encourage families who are living the Gospel to exercise radical generosity in inviting others to share in your family life, even if you are well aware that it is not perfect. For instance, consider engaging in a ministry or ongoing service project as a family, so that others can witness how you relate to one another and how you raise your children. Consider inviting singles, including young people, to attend Mass with your family or to share meals at your home on a regular basis. Consider serving as mentors to newly married couples. When unchurched families—including relatives—come to your home, recognize that even a prayer before meals, or simple words of thanksgiving to God offered by each member of the family, can be a powerful witness to the presence of Christ among you. (Marker 7.3)

As you grow as a family this year, call on the Holy Family with this prayer at the end of Amoris Laetitia.

 

Prayer to the Holy Family 

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendour of true love;

to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

grant that our families too

may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and small domestic churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

may families never again experience

violence, rejection and division;

may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,

make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

Graciously hear our prayer.

Amen.