September 25, 2015

Faith and Family / Sean Gallagher

World Meeting of Families to give a joyful witness

Sean GallagherI began writing this “Faith and Family” column 13 years ago shortly after the birth of my oldest son Michael. Four other sons have been born in the interim, and my wife, Cindy, and all of us have made our way through many years of living together as a family.

The destination of the journey to which all families are ultimately called is communion in heaven with the Blessed Trinity, a model for family life in the perfect communion of love of Father, Son and Spirit.

We take steps toward the end of our earthly pilgrimage together as families when, with the help of God’s grace, we grow in holiness little bit by little bit in our everyday lives.

Each day that dawns offers us many opportunities to make this growth a reality. We take another step down our pilgrim path when, with God’s help, we think, speak and act more and more like the example given to us in the Holy Family of Nazareth—Jesus, Mary and Joseph.

I’ll be the first to admit that, in the 13 years I’ve been writing this column, it has often seemed to me that I’ve gotten lost on my way to heaven and instead of moving forward in holiness, I’ve actually turned and gone the other way.

We’re all sinners in need of God’s mercy. Thankfully, we can receive it in a special way in the sacrament of penance, which can help us get back up after we’ve fallen on our journey of faith and start again, headed in the right direction.

The challenges of persevering on this pilgrimage through family life have been on my mind a lot lately. As I write this, my departure for the Church’s World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-25 is just days away. I’ll travel with more than 40 other Catholics from across central and southern Indiana, and will meet Catholic families from around the world at the event.

While I know that all families have their struggles in following the path that God has laid out for them, I expect to be impressed more by the holiness than by noticing the shortcomings in the families from across the archdiocese and around the world participating in the World Meeting of Families.

Each family grows in holiness and shows it in its own corner of the world in the particular circumstances of their daily lives.

It happens when a mother comforts a crying baby at 2 a.m., rather than staying in bed.

It happens when a father takes time to play with and listen to his children when he only wants to sit, relax and be by himself after a long day at work.

It happens when children and parents together are patient with each other’s shortcomings, and give in to the other’s preference rather than asserting their own.

I pray that seeing the holiness of families from around the world, all gathered together to worship the Lord with Pope Francis in a celebration of the Eucharist, will be a tremendous boost of grace for me to live out my call to holiness as a husband and father.

And in a time when many in society want to mold marriage and family life solely according to their own whims and desires, I hope that this gathering of families will be a joyful witness to the beauty of God’s age-old, but ever new vision of the same. †

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