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September 5th, 2011

Family – The Training Ground

Family The Training Ground

Beware of the spiritual generation gap among our children.

Any role of leadership in society, whether social, economic, political or religious would have its root in the hearth of the family, without which it is impossible to exercise any authority. We are fundamentally what we are at home. We act and react the way we do so at home. Family is the training ground for a child’s future leadership in the larger society. When he is denied such role at home, the consequence would be disastrous with various chaos, pandemonium, unrest and violence in the wider society.

The society reflects its face back to its inception at home. What is denied at home cannot be compensated in the social role nor be ‘made up’ elsewhere. None can give what he does not possess at home. Or else one has ‘to act as another’, wearing a mask of artificiality all through one’s life and begin to divest and distance oneself from the real self. To such type of ‘artificiality’ the word of God asks: “why do you pretend to be another?” (I Kg 14:6). In pretension, the inner growth is stagnant and personality would be warped unable to face realities. “Self-alienation” would be the end product of long-range domestic disorder.

Leadership in the Bible

Bible has offered many personalities who have developed their leadership qualities in the hearth and warmth of their homes and under the tutelage of their parents. Gideon although ‘afraid of his family’ did pull down the altar of Baal at night (Judges 6:25-27). Jephthah the Gileadite was mighty warrior but he was the son of a harlot and he lost the property of his family. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah were of no exception; they were brought up by their faith-filled families (Ezra 5:1-5).

St. Paul advised the parents to ‘bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.’ “Discipline your son” says Sirach (30:13) “and take pains with him.” “Do not withhold discipline from a child” (Prov. 23:13). The father who is the head and the leader of the family would find it easy to train future leaders of the society in order to shape its destiny.

Leadership in the Family

St. Paul was straight forward when he spoke about the men leadership in the family; “He must manage his own household well, keeping his children submissive and respectful in every way – for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how can he take care of God’s church?” (I Tim 3:4-5). Paul demanded that the church leader be exemplary in controlling his own family. He was to raise children known for their obedience and morally upright behavior. The verb for ‘manage’ carries the idea of governing, conducting, leading and giving direction to the family. The term demands an effective exercise of authority fostered by a character of integrity and sensitive compassion. In the context of the family life, the term implies that the father demands ‘respect and devotion’ from his children by his holy and dignified way of life.

For the father to see ‘that his children obey him’, demands primarily a character and manner of discipline that develop a natural respect. The passage assumes that the leader is married and knows how to blend authority and compassion so skillfully in the training of his children.

The development of proper leadership skills in the home was a pre-requisite for using them in the Church. Paul’s reference to the Church as ‘God’s household’ (I Tim 3:15) underscores the close relationship between the Church and home. Hundreds of ‘domestic churches’ would establish a parish church or a local Christian community. Basically our actions and behaviour patterns of the ‘household church’ would be reflected in the bigger church called the ‘parish’ or the diocese.

Foresight in the Family

St. Paul has reprimanded certain families which neglected their own needy members. ‘And whoever does not provide for relatives, and especially for family members, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (I Tim 5:8). To ‘provide’ involves ‘foreseeing’ and planning for the future needs of dependents. St. Paul suggested that a believer has an inalienable duty to care for all the needy relatives, especially for ‘those under his own roof.’ Anyone who does not provide such care has denied the faith. Such denial is an egregious failure that mutes a claim to Christian piety.

Leadership qualities whether social or religious are not always inborn, but created by human efforts. Family and its healthy environment would be conductive to inculcate the skills needed to develop the potential qualities within. We see in the animal world that they train rigorously their younger ones in order to equip them to catch the prey. So too, in the human society, we need to impart to our children effective leadership qualities. This training has to be done at home.

For, home is the first and primary school of life and it is the inalienable right for the parents to impart perennial and traditional values to the coming generations of humanity. Or else what happened to the Israelites might occur again. “There arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). We notice the ‘generation gap’ widening due to the absence of effective family catechesis. The spiritual generation gap is worse than the temporal one. Our children’s secular knowledge far exceeds their religious knowledge.

Lord Jesus, we invite you into our homes today. As you entered the house and rooms of the ruler, come into our homes and put out all the tumults of our families. May your divine words echo in our homes too: “Today salvation has come to this house.”

– – – written by Fr. J. Eapan SDB

January 20th, 2011

Our Family In Today’s World

Our family in todays world

No amount of growth in any field can substitute the warm relationship between persons.

If you have children or grandchildren, chances are you can’t help but notice what a different world they’re growing up in compared to when you were their age. There was a time when people didn’t carry cell phones and PDAs with them wherever they went, and when there were no such things as iPods. Wi-Fi Internet, You Tube, Twitter and Face book. The problem is, we are being increasingly overloaded with more changes than we can handle. So what has caused our world to change so rapidly in recent years? Ultimately, it’s due to technological advances.

Earlier, the industrial revolution brought about changes in lifestyle, family structure, culture and values. It began with a shift from a rural, agrarian society to an urban, industrial society. The computer revolution that started around 25 years ago sent the rate of change into its exponential rise. Today, scientific and technological changes are taking place at such a breathtaking pace that many have difficulty keeping up with them. The pace of life is speeding up. We have been cranking up the speed at which we operate, and life is becoming increasingly frantic.

Even if there is no need to hurry, “ faster” has become the normative way we do things today. We may find ourselves getting impatient and angry with slower drivers on the highway even when there’s no reason to be in a rush. Sometimes we don’t even want to compose an e-mail message anymore because that takes too long. Some people now prefer communicating through texting and “tweeting” because the messages are shorter and faster to compose and read.

In an attempt to get more done we ‘multitask”, always trying to do two or three things at the same time. So we may eat fast-food lunch and conduct business calls while we’re driving or checking our e-mail. More people are also bringing work home with them. Everyone is working long hours—not only because there’s a lot more work to be done, but also because of concerns about getting laid off if they don’t put extra hours . Working overtime, working weekends and being on call 24 hours a day are standard for employees at many companies.

Our lives are becoming increasingly complex. You have so many options, whether you’re buying a car, buying pet food, selecting a cell phone plan, making airline reservations, choosing a doctor or setting up a retirement account. More often parents do not even know what their kids are listening to on their iPods or what sites they are checking out on the Internet. So kids are not getting any kind of direction as to what’s wrong with these messages, and they go unchallenged.

Now parents are busy all weekend shuffling their kids to all different sports or other events they’re involved with ; in addition to running errands or catching up on housework that didn’t get done during the week.

Of course nowadays, even when family members are home together, parents may be too worn out to talk and may instead simply “veg out” in from of the TV. Kids are either on the internet or plugged into their iPods. In the past, you had to talk to the people under your roof and spend time with them, whether you liked it or not. Today family members can tune into their iPods or laptops and tune everyone else and ‘be with’ whomever they choose to be with.

There is much less time available for quality face-to-face time between parents and kids. In recent years we have become increasingly disconnected from friends and neighbors, and less involved with community organizations, civic groups, parent-teacher groups or recreation groups. This loss of “community” threatens educational performance, safe neighborhoods, everyday honesty and even our health and happiness.

One factor is that for many people, social networking sites, chat rooms and other online venues have become their “community” of choice. “Instead of socializing with others face-to- face, more and more people are spending their free time sitting in front of their laptops. Another factor is our busy lifestyles. With people working longer hours, often on weekends, we have less time for chats with the neighbors or for neighborhood barbecues

If you are old enough to remember “the way things used to be” that in and of itself can be disconcerting. Most of us don’t enjoy having to do with changes that are thrust upon us, especially if there’s lot of changes all at once. We prefer to stay with the status quo. That’s more comfortable. Of course, even if we find all the technological changes exciting, it can be stressful trying to keep up with all. And then the changes themselves can cause us angst – having too many pressures on our time, seeing morals deteriorate all around us, seeing how” family” has been redefined in our modern world. Or perhaps we feel disconnected from the people around us and wish we had more of a sense of community. May we grasp how change is speeding up and are concerned about what society will be like a generation from now? How can we possibly cope with these changes?

Yes, there is an answer to this: A big difference between previous times and today is that in the past people looked to God to help them through difficult times. But for many people today, that doesn’t exist as an answer anymore. Ultimately, though, our true source of stability is the one thing much of society has let go in recent years—GOD.

No matter how tumultuous or volatile this world gets, we can count on God to be our anchor and refuge.

God will give us the strength we need to make it through if we look to HIM and His word to guide us. (He is our refuge and strength. Psalm 46:1). Moreover, God in His Word has given us a wonderful vision of a better world that’s coming. It’s also important to remember that God’s plan and purpose for us will never change. His plans endure forever, his purpose last eternally. Indeed, we can face our rapidly changing, uncertain world with a truly positive and confident outlook—if we hold tightly to the God who does not change and whose eternal truths are utterly certain. That should give us confidence and peace of mind. What a spectacular future to look forward to!

– – – written by Mel. P. Oommen

August 4th, 2009

Poem : Our Family Tree

Our family tree

We’ve added to our family tree

A stronger one to make

A child from another plant

Has become our new namesake.

Just as a limb is grafted

From one tree to another,

It alters and improves the plant

Making it, uniquely, like no other.

Our family tree has been improved

Adoption made this so.

For love, much more than bloodlines,

Makes us thrive and grow.

We chose to share our life and love

And all the joys to come

Our “family tree” has blossomed

With the arrival of our cherished one.

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