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THE CALL TO CHARITY IS BErOND OUR RESOURCES 8'1: TEOFILO RE'IES

I have been newly aware of the Lord's

have been praying for one intention for

goodness and mercy this Lent and now

several years. It is a relationship

that I with

in the season of Easter. You may know

have- a very difficult relationship-

that I have had an operation;

that the

a person in my extended family whom I

surgeons removed a cancerous

tumor.

The recuperation

has been slow. I

never imagined that it would ... well I just never even occurred to me to think about how things would behow they would proceed afterwards. I wasn't looking that far ahead. My condition

and the operation

were

serious enough to proceed one step at a time. But my intention in bringing this up was to share with you one of the fruits coming from this time of reflection and of ... well, a time of suffering. I Our single men and women organized an Easter festival to the delight of many beyond just the kids who were supposed to enjoy it. See page 11.

Continueo on page 2.

(


pace and rhythm. of abandoning

My prayer

myself

Therefore a Man LeaveG hiG Father and hiG Mother

to the

BY: DICK HERMAN

Lord ... He has taken me up on it. "When you are young you go where

Teofilo (right) gestures and explains to Javier, a fellow leader of Seguidores de la Cruz.

you will, but later

When you take the family to visit the

is fundamentally

grandparents,

aspect, the responsibility for children, will be the main focus of this article.

do you find that your

you stretch out your hands ... "

children act up more and feel free to get

On 21: 18) One of the fruits of

away with more misbehavior?

this time of sickness,

suffering

speak in a tone of voice that is just a bit

and

the Lord

more brash? If so, it is a sure sign that

prayer

is that

Do they

has worked in me a change of

you don't discipline there the same way

heart. I can now sincerely greet

you do at home. The children make the

this person, looking in his eyes with an honest wish for his well

adjustment

being. Nothing can convince me

that the rules are different and that you

that my resources were or are sufficient. God has done this .

don't set them. It is just one indicator

The call to charity is beyond our resources.

in-laws' influence; that you haven't "left

automatically. Even though

they can't put it into words, they know

that you are not free of your parents' or father and mother"

in the scriptural

sense (see Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31). I

COl1dl1ueo

from page

The doctors say that they cut out the

L

cancerous

fail to

Spouses being too tied into parents can

II II

to be kind, nor polite, not even civil,

mention the possibility that it could grow

'I

with this person;

hack. So, I abandon myself to God's will.

be a source of tension in marriage, but in terms of the children's formation it

for various reasons.

but

never

The problem is in me. I recognize that.

This tumor or its complications

I have asked the Lord to help me but I

the way I die, if that cancer reactivates.

don't receive His grace. I have repented

But there is another

as deeply as I know how, taken refuge inllim, and relied on the sacraments-

must not grow hack, which the Divine

all without change. With firm resolve

been a distressing relationship, and I must make sure that I die free of that

and seeking the strength

of the Spirit

I set out. .. Yet, failure! I cannot bring

malignancy

that

Surgeon has removed from what had

one. I have faith that He can preserve

myself to stretch out my hand to greet

me,

the person with eye contact. The Lord

healthy in that relationship others.

Jesus is powerful enough, there is no

may be

and

help

me grow ever more and all the

doubt. Again, the problem is in me. Don't But now since November

when

my

ordeal began, my life has had a different

2

-La

you agree, when

mercifully others?

cf"c.uUlla

we should .,.

God acts so share

it with

Parents are the first and most important educators of their own children,

and they also possess a competence in this area: they are educators because they are parents. They share their educational mission with other individuals or institutions, such as the Church and the State ...

fundamental

- "and the grandparents", we might add here... Butthe mission of education must always be carried out in accordance with a proper application of the

principle of subsidiarity. (Letter to Families #16; emphases in the original.)

see quite frequently. I can't bring myself

tumor,

damaging. This latter

When

parents

COl1dl1ueo 011page

are

4.

not

free

of the


ContinueD from ptlge

J.

grandparents' influence, they are not fulfilling their role as the first and most important educators of their own children. This can be due to the grandparents undermining the parents' agenda or because the parents are all too willing to give over their responsibility. According to God's plan, a couple is to form an independent entity, a domestic church. The spouses are to take responsibility for their vocation and what it entails, and even in the long run, to be ready to care for their own parents in their old age. This implies freedom to come to agreements with parents and in-laws, and to set the slate for how the relationship works. The

assistance

and

wisdom

of

grandparents is so wonderful because of the bonds of love which accompany their interaction. They can implicitly teach humanity and life, even while

giving instruction on any other subject. Who better to assist the parents in many of the waysthat they need to be helped in forming and socializing their children? Still, there are problems which need to be avoided, or detected and remedied. John Paul II speaks also of an "intrinsic and absolute limit" as to how much the authority of the parents can be shared and delegated. The domestic church, in this aspect, is sacrosanct.

ContinueD from ptlge

4.

There is a famous example of how a cardinal, visiting relatives in a different diocese, performed the wedding of his nephew without going through the formality of receiving the pastor's letter of delegation of authority in the parish, The marriage was invalid, and had to be convalidated afterwards because the authority of the pastor with his flock is inviolable to that

degree. The parents in the domestic church have an analogously protected authority. "[A]11other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization. " The danger

therefore,

is that

of

ContinueD on ptlge 0.

[Subsidiarity] implies the legitimacy and indeed the need of giving assistance to the parents, but finds its intrinsic and absolute limit in their prevailing right and their actual capabilities. The principle of subsidiarity is thus at the service of parental love, meeting the good of the family unit. For parents by themselves are not capable of satisfying every requirement of the whole process of raising children, especially in matters concerning their schooling and the entire gamut of socialization. Subsidiarity thus complements paternal and maternal love and confirms its fundamental nature, inasmuch as all other participants in the process of education are only able to carry out their responsibilities in

the name of the parents, with their consent and, to a certain degree, with their authorization. (Letter to Families #16; emphases in the original.) Continuer) rJl1next ptlge.

Jose Angel and Edith (left) are studying the course entitled 'The Domestic Church".

ZI

-La.

J c.nU..lla.

J~,2008

5


Continue;) from ptlge

5

Continue;) from ptlge 6.

forming an unhealthy symbiosis in the relationship between a couple and their parents, one of filling one another's needs in unhealthy ways, and consequently not according to the respective roles: Le., in a way that does not "complement paternal and maternal love" nor "confirm its fundamental nature". In such a case the married couple still lives under the direction of the parents for their priorities and decisions rather than under God's direction. It is also possible that they are taking advantage of their parents. This is especially true if the married couple lives with their parents or in-laws, a phenomenon which is more common here in Mexico. Yet, it is possible, and unfortunately quite common, to live at a distance, while having not "left father and mother"while still being dependent in an unhealthy way psychologically or financially, or in other ways. Consider this example: how will we celebrate Christmas? In whose house will the children form their impressions of the Savior's Nativity? Often the expectation is a given in the grandparents way of thinking, "They will spend Christmas at our house and eat dinner here." Of course there is no reason that the experience can't be shared between several relatives' homes. But the parents Continue;) on ptlge

6

7

~M

must consider their role and responsibility as the primary educators of such an important part of our faith. Not infrequently there is a strong tradition of Christmas until the grandparents die and then the holiday becomes devoid of a domestic spirituality because the parents have never taken that role with their children, and have never considered its importance. Expectations of how the children are related to; how we spend our time; what giftsthe children willreceive; . what time the children go to bed; these are important questions which the parents, as a pastoral team, need to decide and then protect. MARR/ACE

/$ A

VOCAr/ON

Fundamental to the whole problem is a failure to see marriage as a vocation. Typically,when two people get married they haven't given any thought to how their relationship should look with one another and much less when children come on the scene. Similarly, they usually have not thought through and decided together how to relate to their parents, to the Church, and to society. Marriage nowadays requires a radical (from the roots) adjustment on our part- on the part of everyone in a culture of life and love. Catholics and Christians unfortunately look no different than others in society in this regard. Marriage must be seen as a Continue;) on ptlge 8.

J~,2008

7


I

Continuer) from pi/fie 7-

vocation that is equal in dignity to other vocations. It requires every bit as much a sincere gift of self as being a priest or a consecrated person. The calling of Matrimony demands that disciples carry the cross daily no less than any other calling. It is designed to make married disciples entirely holy and its goal is sainthood. The way that we train and prepare young men and women for their career nowadays does not lend itself to approaching marriage as a vocation. The common approach, exhibiting blindness to the dignity and responsibilities of matrimony, is to append marriage on to one's career

relationships as those who don't know the Lord. The evangelization and conversion from sin does not get fleshed-out in the daily fabric of life and relationships. And the discipline which is necessary to bring order into these areas of our relationships strikes us as being rigid and in conflict with our spontaneity. Oftenwork becomes the husband's main

It is unfortunately quite common to live at a distance, while having not "left father and mother".

priority by default; sometimes, e.g., the wife's mother

occupies first priority in her heart, whether she is conscious of it or

and other goals. God's design is that marriage is a primary and fundamental calling which requires total dedication, with a career being necessary to carry out that responsibility. Not incidentally, John Paul II taught that a woman has a right to choose her career as homemaker. What is my relationship to my parents and my in-laws supposed to look like? Howdo my priorities ofwork and career tie into my vocation? Since we hardly ever even ask these questions, the default answer is that "anything goes". The net result is a division between faith

8

and life: on one level, the "spiritual plane", we love and are striving to grow in relationship to the Lord; while on the "practical level" we have the same divorce rate and the same disordered

not. These are only two examples, there are many ways the priorities get shuffled and stacked when all is left to inertia. Any of these mistakes means that they are not living the vocation as God has ordered it. The Lord expects them to know what the relationship is to be and to live it. People who get married in the Church have agreed to that expectation, whether they realize it or not. A HEALTHYAUTONOMY

Young parents need to be open to their own parents' wisdom and advice, but with the freedom to make their own Continuer) on next Pi/fie.

..La dc.nc.LLla

Continuer) from pi/fie 8.

decisions according to the light which the Lord gives them for their vocation as a pastoral team. If they are not free of their parents' influence, with the healthy autonomy that is implied in Gen 2:24, they will either neglect their responsibilities and be manipulated by their parents, or they will be closed off completely so as to avoid conflict. Closing off the communication in this area is an impoverished way to live family life. Often, it indicates a lack of openness in other areas. On the other hand, parents need to "let go anew" of their children at each stage of life, including when their own children an~ married and raising a family. Grandparents must also continue maturing in their understanding of being grandparents. In the worst case scenario, they see themselves as secondary- or even as primary- parents. This can feed into the great temptation that parents face, Le., that both parents will work in order to have a more comfortable lifestyle, rather than living their priorities as parents, Le., as the primary educators and evangelizers of their children. Certainly, sometimes the grandparents' intervention is necessary in the case of death or disability of the parents, etc. Sometimes both parents have no choice but to work. But this is not the ideal. For a host of reasons, we are now used to making decisions and setting standards

d~,2008

Animated exchanges among some of the couples after the Easter Mass.

according to the exception rather than the ideal. Our standard as parents is to take the responsibility for the formation and education of the children with the view of forming each one to be able to discern and enter into his or her own personal vocation as they mature through adolescence and enter into adulthood. There are stages of life and the interrelationship of a couple to their own parents and to their children can bring blessings, to a greater or lesser degree, to the family.Generally the stages are a) recently married, b) when children are born and continue to grow, c) middle age and the children are leaving the nest, d) old age. The process of education ultimately leads to the phase of self- education, Continuer) on pi/fie IO.

9


,

r A

TWO-PRONGED

(

J

i

God's

C0l1til111eO from page IO.

TEMPTATION

Amajor factor nowadays compounds the

children have left the nest, will naturally

problem-

have strong desires to nurture

even beyond the challenge of

living in a technological, global society-

mobile

and

it is the effect of the

be needed in relationships. drawn,

consciously

contraceptive mentality. There is a built-

to be the

in tendency to live for own's own comfort

grandchildren.

and to abandon

so willing to assume

responsibilities.

It is

surrogate

and to

She will be

or unconsciously, mother

of her

With parents or in-laws their children's

plan

for the

relationships

of

married ,couples to their own parents ,,is good and· it works. He wants people to know that plan and live it. If young parents parents'

are

not"'free

misdirected

of their

own

influences

for

their married life and family, then they will not be able to care for their children

parental role ... that is a powerful two-

in the right way as the first and primary

and we are all affected by it. Parents need

pronged

teachers .•••

to consciously fight off the prevailing current of deferred maturation and lure

parents and the grandparents.

intrinsic

to the contraceptive

culture,

temptation,

both

for

the

of perpetual adolescence, which seeksand feels entitled to- all of the privileges and

none

of the

responsibilities

life. On the other One-an-one time with each child

grandparents

has to be a priority for the first and primary teachers.

parents'

in

side of the coin,

are tempted to usurp the

role in that same culture. For

example, people who made a decision to have no more than two children, by

Col1til1l1eO frompage

the time they reach their mid to late

9.

forties, have no children at home. They

which occurs when the individual, after attaining an appropriate level of psycho-physical maturity, begins to "educate himself on his own". In time, self-education goes beyond the earlier results achieved by the educational process, in which it continues to be rooted. (Letter to Families #16; emphases in the original.)

still have a lot of energy and can fill the void in their lives by being "surrogate parents" of their grandchildren. the emptiness

Sensing

of much of what seemed

attractive at an earlier stage, they are attracted to self-giving in relationships, especially with their own grandchildren. As they still want the best for their (adult)

The self-education,

mentioned

children, they ironically and mistakenly

above by

John Paul II, is manifest in the life of a

think that allowing them to live a life

married couple with their own parents

of more leisure and less pressure-

by what we've been calling a "healthy

life

autonomy".

responsibilities

mother

Leaving one's father and

is precisely

assuming

of

for them.

that

abdicating

The woman

in this instance),

education and maturity.

their

as parents-

a

God-given is "the best"

(grandmother

especially after her

COl1til1l1eO 011 l1ext page.

10

La

d

e.6H.llla..

d~,2008

11


Helen Johnson P.O. Box 1443 Scott LA 70583-1443

/

I ...

La Semilla - Spring 2008  

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