By Deacon Jim Krupka

In his message On Love in the Family, Pope Francis reflects on the challenges facing families today. He reminds us that there is “no stereotype of the ideal family.” In his remarks on the experiences and challenges of families, the Pope conveys the dynamic character of family in modern society. On the positive, family life has moved toward a more equitable distribution of tasks within marriage and advancement of the role of women in society and marriage. At the same time, moves toward individualism to the extreme lead each member to become an “isolated unit.” Understandably, modern life’s fast and public nature pushes family members toward individual focus. The problem is, as each becomes individually driven rather than family-driven, personal desires predominate. When this happens, an atmosphere absent of universal truths or values prevails. Everything is permissible and possible. Rather than providing the refuge found in a loving and united family, loneliness dominates as each tries to find their way as an island.
The Pope recognizes that the challenges facing families are immense and growing. He calls for the Church to model Jesus as encountered by the Samaritan woman. Jesus identified with the reality of her life and gave healing compassion. She was not alone despite all the messiness of her life. On this point, we can take the Pope’s universal words and bring them to our parish and life. Everyone in this parish is a unique individual. We as individuals combine to make families that are very different from house to house. Yet, using the Pope’s words, “the strength of the family lies in its capacity to love and to teach how to love.” This is a universal truth. Men and women play an “equally decisive” role in that. The Church adds truth and hope. Our parish is a place that preaches and teaches love in the family. Universally and locally, the ideal of growing old together in a family has more value than ever.
When the noise in society points toward extremes of individualism or diminishes the value of marriage, know that your special and unique family has a place here. Much of what we do is shaped to make living that truth ever more possible.