As march madness descended upon us (and I am not talking talking about basketball, but the choosing of the new pope!), I found it an interesting process. One of the things I found interesting was how the secular media interacted with the process, but also it’s somewhat foreign engaging of the Catholic church, and her doctrine. Now, I do not align myself with a lot of things within the Catholic church, but these interactions the media had, piqued my interest to understand some Catholic thought, because I would consider myself fairly ignorant of such things as well. So, I have read a few addresses that the most recent pope (Benedict), who just resigned because of his health, has given; and, I found these statements very interesting in an address he gave to the church in Africa.
The family is the “sanctuary of life” and a vital cell of society and of the Church. It is here that “the features of a people take shape; it is here that its members acquire basic teachings. They learn to love inasmuch as they are unconditionally loved, they learn respect for others inasmuch as they are respected, they learn to know the face of God inasmuch as they receive a first revelation of it from a father and a mother full of attention in their regard.”
The family is the best setting for learning and applying the culture of forgiveness, peace and reconciliation. “In a healthy family life we experience some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love between brothers and sisters, the role of authority expressed by parents, loving concern for the members who are weaker because of youth, sickness or old age, mutual help in the necessities of life, readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive them. For this reason, the family is the first and indispensable teacher of peace.”
So many things happen within families that it is almost the “playground” of life, as your character is shaped for life that you would not learn elsewhere, or experience elsewhere. I think the former pope has Deuteronomy 6:4-9 in mind as he wrote this:
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.
Everyday life shapes our children. What we say, the examples that we set, are shaping our children. However, before you fret, in that you feel as if you miss the mark, and your family is not perfect, welcome to the fallen world club! This is the beauty of the gospel and the words that God speaks to us, that the second quote brings up, as we get to build a culture of forgiveness, and unconditional love within our kids. This can be ingrained within our children, for them to then, engage the world with gospel outside of their family. The gospel is not that you do anything to earn the favor of God, but that it is just given by God, because He is gracious. This is what parents can do and showcase the “face of God” to your children.