JUNE OVERVIEW. Birth, childhood and growth through adolescence are the most vibrant stages of life in all areas of creation, human, animal and plant. We understand that family relationships do exist too in the animal kingdom. Vigorous growth and regrowth happen in phases that can often be stressful and conflict-filled. However, ideally in a family, the young receive the conscious protection, care and support they need to monitor and direct their youthful energy towards full and responsible maturity.

Pope Francis tells youth in his letter Christus Vivit, to young people and to the entire people of God: sheer vitality and strength of personality combine in the hearts of young people to make them constantly aim higher.  This exuberance will be tempered by time and painful experiences but it is important for this youthful and still untested yearning for the infinite to encounter unconditional friendship that Jesus offers.   CV190

It is true that the difficulties they experience in their own family can lead the young to ask whether it is worthwhile to start a new family, to be faithful, to be generous. However, it is worth your every effort, dear young people,  to invest in the family, there you will find the best incentives to mature and the greatest joys to experience and share.  Don’t let yourselves be led astray by those who propose a life of rampant individualism that in the end leads to isolation and the worst sort of loneliness.   CV263.

Pope Benedict observed that the world cannot be analysed by isolating only one of its aspects. The book of nature is one and indivisible and includes the environment, life, sexuality, the family and social relations. LS6

Setting the scene:   At the time of writing, mid-May, our country is still partially on lock-down with pre-schools, schools and tertiary institutions still closed and many workers not yet back. It has been a very hard time for children, their parents and other carers too. Some families have become closer, others have struggled and may have resorted to violence especially against women and children. Children were stuck at home with family, no school, no friends allowed but with constant digital contact, even e-learning for some.  Lessons have been learned about life as it was, is and as it could be.  The whole world is changing. Will our values change?  Almost everyone will be poorer. How will we address the extremes of greed and poverty, inequality and the need to keep a cleaner environment in the forefront of our planning and actions.   Much of this is to be imparted in their families to the younger generations. The context for these reflections is a focus on children, youth and families with Laudato Si’, the letter from Pope Francis, in mind.  They can be used by the young and older people too as they try to understand the youth in our church and society.

The focus of the world of creation as a family of families can also serve the vision for the future.  With churches closed it has been more difficult to practise our religion as we were used to.   At this time is God’s  presence recognised, and is Jesus welcomed in our little churches of the home?  Moments of prayer and reflection and a time to share thoughts and feelings, fears and hopes for the future require solidarity with everyone? Is our solidarity lived out in caring for one another and the environment?  How many young people are working alongside the St Vincent de Paul Society or other Catholic NGOs during this time?  All that might be the new normal for Confirmation and faith development leading to an eventual Sacrament of Marriage as still a basis for family life that we dare not neglect.

For resources for family faith development, the 2020 FAMILY YEAR PLANNER, family prayer and sharing or to register for a daily email visit www.marfam.org.za. Go to MARFAM’s new shop www.marfam.org.za/shop  Call Toni 0825521275 for information.    ——————————————————————————————————————————————-