By: Fr. Roy Cimagala
OFTEN overshadowed by what we consider to be more important concerns, like those in our professional work, politics, business, etc., taking care of our family get-togethers actually hold a certain priority over them, since these gatherings possess a foundational or cornerstone type of importance in our life.
And the simple reason is that these get-togethers play a crucial role in making family life vibrant and healthy. That’s because they have a highly formative and educational value.
If we regard the family as the first school a person has where he learns the fundamental values in life, or as the basic unit of society whose health depends on the health of the families that comprise it, or as the domestic Church where the spiritual and supernatural values are first imparted and transmitted, then everything has to be done to make family life as healthy as possible.
The status of each person and of the world somehow depends on the status of the family. Said in another way, how the family somehow determines how a person is and how society and the world in general are. More specifically, we can say that how the family determines how the spiritual life of each person and the spiritual quality of society and the world are.
The heads of the family should realize more deeply this serious responsibility they have in their hands. Thus, they have to see to it that they arrange their lives in such a way that this primordial importance of the family life and the get-togethers so essential to it are given due recognition and are properly attended to.
The heads of the family should take the initiative to organize these get-togethers where all the members, from the oldest to the youngest, can participate as actively as possible. Regular absenteeism of some members, especially the heads, should be avoided.
This obviously will require efforts to make everyone aware of the importance of family get-togethers. Ways have to be found to motivate everyone to look forward to having these get-togethers and to actively contribute to them. Among the things that we can do in this regard is to prepare edifying stories, anecdotes, even jokes, etc., before going to the get-togethers. We have to learn how to spice up the get-togethers.
In these get-togethers, bonding and a sense of unity amid the unavoidable differences and conflicts that can occur even in the best of families are developed and reinforced. Mutual knowledge and concern for one another grow, and from there the basic skills that would enable us to relate with others in society and the world, in general, are also developed.
The family get-togethers can actually prepare us to handle our responsibilities toward others in society and in the world. The social skills we need to relate ourselves to others in a meaningful way are developed.
Of course, everyone should be encouraged to be more mindful and thoughtful of the others. This is a basic attitude to have. We have to overcome the tendency to look after our own interests only. We have to get more and more involved in the interests and the very lives of the other members.
That basic attitude articulated by St. Paul to bear each other’s burdens (cfr. Gal 6,38) and to regard others as better than us (cfr, Phil 2,3) should be developed. Like Christ, we should just want to serve and not to be served. (cfr Mk 10,45)
In fact, putting these get-togethers to their highest values, we can say that they teach us how to reflect that inner life of God who in his Trinitarian life is in a perpetual mode of knowing and loving. Being God’s image and likeness, we have to somehow reflect God’s Trinitarian life among ourselves, and this starts in the family.
Let us hope that the importance of family life and the family get-togethers are adequately taught to all those preparing for marriage and for founding a family.