Monday, December 28, 2015

Seedbeds of Charity

From Pope Francis:
“the family is the answer to the great challenge of our world, which is a dual challenge: fragmentation and solidification, two extremes which co-exist, support each other and together support the consumerist economic model. The family is the answer as it is the cell of a society that balances the personal and community dimensions, and at the same time the model for a sustainable management of the goods and resources of creation. The family is the protagonist of an integral ecology, as it is the primary social subject which contains within itself the two basic principals of human civilisation on earth: the principles of communion and fruitfulness. Biblical humanism presents us with this icon: the human couple, united and fruitful, placed by God in the garden of the world to cultivate it and protect it”.
My son, Joshua, who is in his second year of seminary shared this in an email along with something Dr Topping, one of his Thomas More College professors, told them. "One time John Paul II said that the family today is like the Benedictine monasteries of the Dark Ages. Both are centers of moral order, seedbeds for charity."
With the blessing of having Pope Francis visit the U.S. a few months ago, this is something for us to ponder. As parents, we must lead our families along the way towards holiness. Whether our children are young or have reached adulthood, we have the opportunity to help them figure out life as a follower of Christ. 
One thing we have to realize is that we cannot do this by ourselves. That is why it's so important to be in community. I must admit with the way life has been for me lately, I have fallen away from that more than I would have liked to do. With our kids all off to school, I find myself insulating a bit more than is good for me. I don't think this is being a good example to others- from my own young adult children to extended family to friends- and I've been trying to figure out how to remedy this. 
One way I was able to start was when we finally decided to take the leap and invite a fantastic young family from our parish to come to our house for an Advent "crafternoon".

I came up with a couple of easy crafts- snowflakes cut from coffee filters and gingerbread houses from graham crackers and candies. The family which has 7 adorable children came for a few hours, and we all had a wonderful time. My heart was filled with joy as the mom came in and after greetings, went right over to our little oratory, knelt down on the prie-dieu Josh had made for me a couple years ago, and prayed for a moment. It was the first time anyone other than our family members had done that. Laughter filled the house along with lots of smiles as each of the kids made their creations.  

Joshua and the girls got into the action, helping with the crafts and they all did a great job of keeping the littlest visitor entertained. Simple snacks of cookies and hot cocoa & cider topped off the "crafternoon". 
After that small step, I am longing to do more. We have so many families with young children in our parish, and it's up to us older moms (for I am realizing I have reached that spot on the spectrum of life) to make sure they are being nourished and cultivated. It's not that hard. It just takes a willingness to give a bit of time.
So many young mothers and fathers do not have the time, extra money or energy to do the little extra things those of us on the other side of raising our families are able to do. As the new year approaches, I pray you consider how you can help to plant seedbeds of charity. I know I am looking forward to trying it soon!

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