Being a Catholic Parent
Those of us who have families to raise may feel a little apprehensive when we realise the importance the Church gives to families in their role in faith formation. The Church, with all the strength and tenderness of a mother, a father, a grandparent, ‘holds’ us with just the right amount of gentleness and firmness as we each make our unique journey through the joys and sorrows of life. The family though is, in a very real sense, the very first ‘church’ to which we belong and where we are held in love.
The Church recognises our foundations in family life, teaching that family is the primary place of education in all things, including faith, and that parents are the ‘first heralds of the Gospel’. This is so because family relationships reflect, however imperfectly, God’s creative and complete love. Home really is a holy place! When we first hear this most people’s reaction tends to be ‘not my family!’ Yet the Church upholds the essential holiness of family life despite our own experience of family being at times messy and disjointed. It is in the middle of the difficulties of real life that we find God, with us, always. The task of adults in families is to practice, as Mary did, having a listening heart so that we can know that God is here with us in all the joys and sorrows of our ordinary lives. God is with us because God is found wherever there is love, however imperfect that love may be. No parent would ever say that raising a family is easy, even Jesus gave his own parents that moment of absolute panic when they realised their child had wandered off and they hadn’t noticed (Luke 2:42-43). Jesus was ahead of our children and was talking with the elders in the temple. In our time, parents choose to introduce their child to the parish community through the Sacrament of Baptism and then hopefully want to walk hand in hand with them praying often at bedtime, attending church and supporting preparation for first Sacraments and beyond. In this way do we join our families to the family that is the church.