A guest post by Stephen Tartaglia, our new Diocesan Director of Family Life
The World Meeting of Families is approaching and in preparation, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family have presented Love is Our Mission, The Family Fully Alive as a catechesis on family life. The catechesis is an easy read and it explains and describes the mission of the family in very clear language.
God, who is love, created us in His image, with reason and free will, so that we can know the truth, recognize the difference between right and wrong, weigh different courses of action, act according to our will and not just by instinct or by conditioning, and finally to reflect on our actions and evaluate how well or poorly we have acted. These gifts enable us to know and love God and to love others. When we use these gifts well, we are fully alive and we give glory to God.
Family is where we first learn to use these gifts and to develop them. This is why family is called the domestic church. The mission of the family is love – receiving God’s love, loving each other, and bringing the love of God to others. It’s not always easy, nor is it automatic. Before we can truly love others, we need to learn what authentic love demands, we have to refine our actions of love through practice, and we have to be strengthened against temptations and challenges, and frequently reoriented when we make mistakes.
Ultimately, families teach what it means to be fully human, resisting the dehumanizing influences of popular culture that lower us and treat us as less than human, with little or no dignity, commodities to be used and consumed for pleasure. Families shelter and support their members and provide a safe haven as they engage the world. The Church accompanies families and supports them amidst the multitude of difficulties they face.