IN between our national celebrations and observations in the transition from 2020 into 2021, it seems useful and wise, to contemplate somewhat, the dedication of the coming year by Pope Francis as The Year of the Family.
A news release from the Vatican on December 27 stated that the Pontiff had declared 2021 as the Year of “Amoris Laetitia Family”. This translates into the Joy of Family Love, and it marks the fifth anniversary of his release of the document “Amoris Laetitia,” The Joy of Love. It is expressed as an “Apostolic Exhortation on Love in the Family”.
In great but simple detail, its spells out the roles and functions, as well as the aspirations of members of a family, of wives and husbands, and about the importance of loving and caring for their off-spring.
He says, for example, that “a child is a human being of immense worth, and may never be used for one’s own benefit. So it matters little whether this new life is convenient for you, whether it has features that please you, or whether it fits into your plans and aspirations,” for children are a gift, each one unique and irreplaceable.
Mothers are presented herein as “the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centred individualism,” since it is they who testify to the beauty of life. A society without mothers would be dehumanised, for they are always, even in the worst of times, “witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength”.
With respect to the role of fathers, the Pontiff asks us to consider that in today’s western civilisation, the father figure is symbolically absent, missing or vanished. This is a truth we can acknowledge all too well in our own local experience. On top of this, is the accompanying reality manhood itself “seems to be called into question”. We are cautioned to notice the extent to which fathers themselves are caught up in themselves and in their work, and in their own self-fulfilment, to such an extent that they neglect their families.
Making a direct connection with the realities of the now, the Pontiff has pointed to the situation in which families and communities the world over have been forced to ponder the implications of the Covid pandemic. It is described as having highlighted the central role of the family as the “domestic church,” and has shown the importance of community ties between families.
It is thus with this kind of realisation, and the need to deepen the bonds which have been developed over the year now coming to a close, as a direct result of the pandemic, that the importance of healthy, re-dedicated family life takes on fresh meaning and importance.
Such imperatives as are required to continue weathering, ultimately to triumph over this global existential threat, call for a positive re-dedication to the ideals of healthy family life.
There is no guarantee that we will feel the same way all through life, we are asked to acknowledge in the Amoris Laetitia. But if a couple can come up with a shared and lasting project, “they can love one another and live as one until death do them part, enjoying an enriching intimacy”.
How about that as a New Year resolution?