Family Life: A New Beginning

April 10, 2012

Pope Benedict XVI, addressing more than 10,000 pilgrims gathered in St. Peter’s Square on March 14, said, “it was with Mary that Jesus’ earthly life began, and it was with her that the Church took its first steps… she discreetly followed her Son’s journey during His public life, even unto the foot of the cross. Then, with silent prayer, she continued to follow the progress of the Church.”

This homily of the Holy Father brings me to think about our daily lives as members of society and, of course, as part of a family. In today’s world we have to carry even more crosses than ever. The question is how can we live every day as a new beginning? Maybe the immediate response of a Christian individual is, “with hope.”

Looking at Our Lady as mother of Jesus and as wife of Joseph, we can appreciate the living experience of such an important theological virtue: Hope within the daily family life and within our daily routine. 

Let’s examine how the Blessed Mother lived this liturgical time. During her life she was obedient, hopeful, faithful and filled with enthusiasm for God’s will. Even when things were not well, the events around her or her family were marked by her capacity to maintain an ongoing state of contemplation — meditating upon each event in the silence of her heart and sacrificing acts of service and love for others. 
Currently the world is experiencing a great deal of economic uncertainty. Some people have lost their jobs or have faced a massive drop in income and businesses have failed. Similarly, Mary went through trials from the moment she was asked to carry the Son of God in her womb until she accompanied Him on the way to Calvary. During uncertain times, like Mary, we may need to develop different individual, family and social models that renew and restore our lives.

With the recession and its severity greatly affecting the current lifestyle in America, it brings me to think that as Christians we want to see this society restored by applying our conviction consistently in our personal and family lives. 

When an environmental or economic crisis happens, social chaos is obviously present. This is why we are also struggling with moral decay in our society — sexual revolution is destroying marriage; cohabitation, divorce and illegitimacy rates are skyrocketing. The moral fabric of the world seems to be falling apart. We wonder, why is this happening?

Someone asked me the other day why I always preach about character formation and what is the meaning of it. My surprised response was that our character is defined as our moral strength or moral quality, but this moral quality is both acquired and developed as the result of several influences which evolve around our daily lives. So we as parents, as members of a family and society have to help others in shaping this moral quality by practicing and living the values and virtues of our faith. These virtues and values need to be taught and practiced in the midst of our daily living. As the Pope said during the homily about our prayers, “(we) are often dictated by difficult situations and by personal problems which cause us to turn to the Lord in search of light, comfort and aid. But Mary invites us to open prayer to other dimensions, to address God not only in moments of need and not only for ourselves, but unanimously, perseveringly, faithfully and with ‘one heart and soul.’”

Our Blessed Mother carried the Cross with Jesus. She had to suffer the cruelty of her people, but she also experienced the new beginning with the resurrection of her son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and through that to look at the victory of life over death. 

The Pope said that after Jesus’ ascension to heaven, the apostles met with Mary to await the gift of the Holy Spirit, without which it is not possible to bear witness to Christ. “She, who had already received the Spirit in order to generate the incarnate Word, shared the entire Church’s expectation of the same gift... If it is true that there could be no Church without Pentecost, it is also true that there could have been no Pentecost without the Mother of Jesus, because she had a unique knowledge of what the Church experiences every day by the action of the Holy Spirit,” he said.

The Pope concluded, “Mary teaches us the need for prayer and shows us how only through a constant, intimate and complete bond of love with her Son can we courageously leave our homes... to announce the Lord Jesus, Savior of the world.”

Let’s imitate Mary and fully live this season of Easter as a new beginning — along with our spouse, children and rest of the family — with the heart open, with strong hope and with a prayerful spirit to dissipate all sort of actual social and moral crisis and scarcities. 

Maritza C. Roman-Pavajeau is an Associate Director of Family Life Ministry.