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Conversing With the Family

The invitation to experience synodality begins in our very own homes. Home and families are the preferential loci for exercising the art of mutual listening which is a requisite for the synodal process the Church is involved in at the moment.

I conducted an online recollection for Grade 8 participants called, “Is My Family My Home?” God’s vision for the family is for it to be a communion of its members, starting with the spouses who have been led to each other by Him to commit sacramentally in love. They share this love with their children, who are the fruits of this covenant.

The family is the very first human community where its members learn values, such as growing in one’s dignity as God’s child, reverence for Him, respect, concern and service towards each other.  This is ideal. However, no person and no family are perfect. In fact, there are many broken families around the world.

The reality is that oftentimes, genuine dialogue does not happen within our own houses. We could take each other for granted. We could seek affirmation and approval in the wrong places. We could run away from the deep-seated hurts plaguing our relationships and family trees. Whether we like it or not, these unresolved forms of baggage within our domestic circles affect the way we look at ourselves and the manner by which we interact with others.

The invitation to experience synodality begins in our very own homes. Do we spend quality time in listening to each member? Do we keep communication lines open, as we share from the heart, and try to foster a domestic environment where we can genuinely grow as persons in a holistic way? Are we determined to preserve our family bond, specifically by putting God at the center, practicing affirmation, gratitude, forgiveness and unity, by His grace? Do we strive to deepen our love for each other as we laugh, cry and pray together?

The norms we have witnessed and imbibed within the family create powerful impact on what we apply in our areas of involvement, including within the Church. If we were not encouraged to communicate effectively within our families, there is a great possibility that we would carry this over to our role in the parish and in religious institutions, regardless of our state of life.

Formation starts within the home. If there are personal wounds that need healing, it is time that our families seek this. If there are questions about the Faith that need clarification and strengthening, the emphasis on synodality is an invitation for us to find the answers together, starting at home.

Psychologists have pointed out that an individual’s actual image of God is often embedded by his experience with his parents or authority figures. Even if books and the Church hierarchy would state that God is love, if a person’s experience of his parent is of abandonment, then he could feel that God is uncaring. An integrative processing or psycho-spiritual intervention is needed to heal this possible distorted image of God.

In Pope Francis’ homily during the opening of the Synodal path on October 10, 2021, he challenged us, “As we initiate this process, we too are called to become experts in the art of encounter. Not so much by organizing events or theorizing about problems, as in taking time to encounter the Lord and one another.” Reflecting on this, may we examine ourselves, “How am I mirroring God’s love in my own family?”

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