Today, seven couples from Guam and eleven
of their children, ranging from eleven years
to four months old are in Valencia, Spain
to participate in the Fifth World Meeting
of Families. They have accepted the call
of the Holy Father who is very concerned
with the situation of the families worldwide
and traveled to far away Spain to represent
Micronesia. They all follow the Neocatechumenal
Way in their respective parishes - Agana,
Barrigada and Tamuning.
This World Meeting is another invention of
Pope John Paul II. It is convoked every three
years to celebrate God's gift of the family.
Hundreds of thousands of families have traveled
from the entire world to pray, dialogue,
and deepen their understanding of the Christian
family's role as domestic church in the world
of today. Pope Benedict XVI is there also.
"The future of humanity passes by way
of the family," John Paul the Great
proclaimed when he announced the first of
The theme is very relevant: "The transmission
of faith in the family". This is where
perhaps we have failed miserably. Our grandparents
in the sixties had faith. However the social
and cultural changes that happened in these
last decades brought havoc to the faith of
the children. And many times we feel lost.
What was considered as sin is being accepted
as normal. Just this morning, a mother was
telling me how much she is suffering because
her daughter - she is 18- left home, became
pregnant and is now living at her boyfriend's
mother's house. "Is the mother a Catholic?"
I asked perhaps naively. "Yes,"
was the odd answer, "and she goes to
mass every day!" The thought that passed
through my mind was how can a Catholic mother
allow her son to live with a girl without
being married in her own home? Has adultery
become OK for us Catholics? How can I transform
my home into a place of sin?!
The other day a father asked me for advice.
His son was going to get married 'in the
park'. He felt he should not attend because
attending would be condoning a situation
that was not right. 'Weddings happen in Church
in a celebration presided by a priest', he
argued. The mother, again a daily mass Catholic,
disagreed. "We should attend and support
our son," she retorted. He was much
Christianity has a vision and values that
the parents can and should transmit to their
children. This is 'a very noble mission that
we cannot shirk from'. Parents are the first
evangelizers of children.
In the Vatican website (www.vatican.va) there is a whole section dedicated to the
family. It contains catechesis and speeches
of the Pope that are simply beautiful.
"As the generator of children, the family
becomes the first and principal institution
entrusted with transmitting the saving mystery
of God to them. For this reason, parents
are the authentic transmitters of the faith
they profess to their children. The great
saints were usually born into deeply Christian
"In the earliest times of Christianity
… the parents' witness played a decisive
role, to the point that the family became
the place par excellence where the Church
transmitted the faith."
"Today, a particularly insidious obstacle
to the task of educating is the massive presence
in our society and culture of that relativism
which, recognizing nothing as definitive,
leaves as the ultimate criterion only the
self with its desires. And under the semblance
of freedom it becomes a prison for each one,
for it separates people from one another,
locking each person into his or her own "ego"."
One of the best recommendations I ever heard
about children came from someone who was
not a parent at all, but rather a nun. It
was offered by Mother Teresa. She was speaking
about her work amongst the poor when a member
of the audience, clearly wanting to assist
her in her work, stood up and asked, "You
have done so much to make the world a better
place. What can we do?"
Mother Teresa smiled and said simply, "Love
your children." The questioner looked
puzzled and was about to speak again, when
Mother Teresa quietly continued saying "There
are other things you can do," she said,
"but that is the best. Love your children.
Love your children as much as you can. That
is the best."
One of the most common complaints I hear
from families is that they are not close.
They may be close in proximity, but still
not feel close as a family. They are close
to each other physically but not emotionally.
Closeness obviously is not about latitude;
it's about attitude. We feel close when we
feel understood, when we feel loved and when
we simply enjoy being together. It is a trait
that grows over time only if it is watered
constantly by honest sharing and true listening.
Like love it has to be based on truth. Education
is not possible without the light of the
truth. Love does not mean letting our children
do what the heck they want to do. It means
directing them and teaching them to discern
what is good and what is bad, teaching them
This is transmission of faith. Difficult
sometimes but always worthwhile. Faith enables
persons to be persons because it lets God
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission
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