Family: The Cell of the Church
Fr Anthony Ndang Ndichia MHM looks at the powerhouse a family can be in a society
In the past, families knew their neighbours and lived together, supporting and shaping one another. Today these virtues are slowly fading away. What is happening to families today?
If nothing is done, what will happen to families in ten years’ time? Are we moving towards a society of single parents, single persons, single children and a single life?
In South Africa and elsewhere there are increasing numbers of single parents, gay and lesbian families, child-headed families, divorced, separated families, adopted families, orphaned families, widowed families, childless families and many wounded families.
One can only be grateful for Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation The Joy of Love, or Amoris Laetitia, which gives us hope for the future of the family, the cell of the Church.
The family is the little Church of the home, the basic cell of society, the agent of evangelisation, open to serving God, receiving the sacraments and being the first school of love.
Parents have a huge responsibility to respond to the spiritual needs of their children on their own faith journey.
When Moses received God’s call, he readily accepted and journeyed with broken families and hopeful families to the Promised Land.
Today, we need ministers who will create and maintain healthy families in society.
According to Fr Sakhi Mofokeng of the Department of Evangelisation in the Southern African Catholic Bishops’ Conference, if we have strong marriages, there will be strong families; if we have strong families, we will have a strong society; and if we have a strong society, we will have a strong nation.
Earlier this year, Bishop Peter Holiday of Kroonstad addressed a family Mass in Sasolburg, acknowledging the increasing problems faced by families today.
He urged parents to work hard and promote unity among the people for unity starts in the family: “Families must live happily, together and persevere and build a better South Africa.”
During the Mass, different categories of families were prayed over and blessed, such as married couples, divorced, single parents, child-headed families, orphans, widows and so on.
This was a clear demonstration that the family of families, the Church, needs to support families through its prayers.
Although we live in a throw-away culture, may families be encouraged and all married couples receive the accompaniment and support they need in their salvation story.
We need a family-friendly Church, not an individually-friendly church.
May God, who is the builder, protector and provider of our families, pour out his saving grace on parents to live in the love of God and bring up their children to know and love God.
Fr Anthony Ndang Ndichia is a Mill Hill Missionary working in the diocese of Kroonstad.