Family--The First "Sacrament"

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from Meet Katharine Drexel
Mary van Balen Holt

Family is the first "sacrament." In it one experiences God through flesh-and-blood faces, arms, and hearts. When a mother holds a crying infant close, the child experiences God's loving embrace. When a father reassures a young one who is afraid of a storm, the child knows the safety of God's love. Such experiences give human beings some way to understand the love of God with us.

We are blessed and cursed by family. No matter how good the family, there are always small things that are "wrong" or do not serve us well in later life. Our job as parents is to make certain that on the whole the memory and reality of family that our children carry forth into the world is a good one. If we really want to stop the contraceptive mentality short in its tracks, our only real mechanism is the experience we give our children in family. If it is hard, harsh, and dreadful, if each additional child is seen only as a burden in the carrying and in the reality, if we do not teach love as the funadmental ground of reality, we only increase the risk that our own children will buy into the mentality of the society that surrounds them. If, on the whole, the family experience is one of love and mutual support, an expanding circle of ever more life and love of God, how can our children desire anything other than this profound experience for themselves in later life?

Family is where we learn of God's love. Many of us have our doubts about God's love that stem from these family experiences. We have wounds and hurts that cripple us in our relationship with God because of mistakes our parents made. We need more than anything to forgive our parents and use the experience to NOT be to our children what our parents were to us. Everyone does as much as they can do. Every parent tries to be a good parent. Some meet the needs of their children, others do not. As parents, it's time to give up our woundedness and not pass it on to our children. It's time to live love and teach our children to live it as well.

I know you parishioners of St. Blog's already do this. If you are like me you spend time wondering what life altering defect you afflict on your child that you don't even see. Better not even to worry about it, but take your nearest little one into your arms--yes, even if a teenager and reluctant--and let them know that they are loved, and that your love is a sign of the richer, fuller, more expansive love that God has for them.

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You said, "If you are like me you spend time wondering what life altering defect you afflict on your child that you don't even see."

That's the TRUTH!

Our family had some real problems (stemming from both of us parents) that didn't even begin to be seriously addressed till 1999. My three oldest kids were very screwed up.

But when the parents earnestly love their kids and are determined to show them--AND ARE DETERMINED TO OWN UP TO THEIR CHARACTER FLAWS AND WORK AT REPENTANCE--the kids will respect it.

Five years later the kids are no longer screwed up. Neither are we, their parents! We're not perfect, but we sure have come a long way. We all like one another now!

God is good--He'll heal a surprising amount of animosity when we throw every facet of our lives into His care.


Thanks for your comment! We are in the throes of facing some of our very bad habits and patterns. You have given concrete hope that the problems of our children we have caused can, in time, with God's help, be rectified.

The most crucial thing is confidence in the redemption of Christ--the next most crucial thing is that parents are completely honest with the kids about past (and present) failings.

This must be very difficult for parents to admit. Usually the worst partents think they are great.



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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on March 16, 2004 7:41 AM.

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I Suppose I Shouldn't Be. . . is the next entry in this blog.

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