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Father Muench Says...

The role of families in formation

June 22, 2016

By Father William Muench
NCC columnist

Today I would like to write a bit on the importance of family on the formation of a vocation spirit in the hearts and minds of our young people.

Family has been written about often and the importance of good family life is a frequent theme however, I want to take this opportunity to again speak about family.

As you well now know, the focus of our diocese’s attention in the next few months as we approach the summit is on vocation.  

For us, Catholics, our understanding of the life journey is about vocation; we believe that God calls us to be part of his plan.

We are all called – married or single, ordained or dedicated religious.  We do not just stumble in a way of life – God has a plan for us.

I want to emphasize today how important I think family is to the decisions made in hearing and following God’s call.  In family, we discover who we are, we discover just how loved we are, loved by our God and our family. 

As we develop our relationships within our family, we discover our relationships with God so that we become open to God’s call, a call to become part of God’s plan. 

I have no doubt that I have been thinking of this today because I am again reading Pope Francis’ wonderful apostolic exhortation on family. 

Pope Francis often speaks and writes about the opportunities and importance of formation and education that all children receive in family.  Part of that formation is the readiness to realize the call of God.

In “Amoris Laetitia”, Pope Francis writes this, in #261 – “It is more important to start processes than to dominate spaces…what is most important is the ability lovingly to help the children grow in freedom, maturity, overall disciples, and real autonomy.” 

This is the path to find God as their partner in life.

I am not much of an expert in writing about family life, however, I have come to recognize that one of the most important moments in family life is the family meal.

I believe there is something formative about a family joining together often for a family meal together.  This is truly being family.  This is a time for being together, a time for a family to share, to recognize how loved and valuable they are to each other.

I think it is a time to bring God’s call to each other.

I remember living as part of a family ages ago while studying at Language School in Bolivia.  The mid-day meal was the family meal.  I remember we would not begin until everyone was home from work, from school.  The meal was slow and took time; it was a family time. 

This was a very special time.

One more thing about the family meal – I don’t remember where I heard this – it was probably in some magazine or other.  The article told about a survey that was carried out by the people who oversee that SAT testing program.

They developed a survey to analyze some of the characteristics of the students who did very well on these tests. 
They were quite surprised that one of the events that these excellent students shared in common is often joining with their families in a family meal.

I remember being surprised by this and yet I was so impressed so I speak of this to young people and parent groups often.

I do realize that the family meal has lost some of its importance nowadays in many families.  Many activities work against families being together – school activities, work demands, sports activities, even Church activities.
I would like to add that the other family meal that should bring families together – that is the Holy Mass.

I encourage families to find the love and peace of our Savior at Mass, being together to share this love and peace of God. 

The family Mass is time for gratitude – gratitude to our God for the gift of family and the gift of vocation. 

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