The Christian family has been called “a domestic church” from very early days in our history.  Behind that description there is the sense of every family being a beautiful creation of God reflecting the divine family, Father, Son and Spirit.  Members of a family are called to live together in harmony and joy in such a way as to echo the joy and peace of the holy family of Joseph, Mary and Jesus.

More recently the Christian family as been described as the “centre and heart of the civilization of love”.  In the face of other civilizations: the civilization of technology, the civilization of greed, the idea of a civilization of love goes back to God’s original plan for humanity: to live in love.

At this time of year it is easy to commend the civilization of love.  This is family time, family holidays, family Christmas, family fun.   But behind the seasonal burst of goodwill, it is necessary to support the institution of the family in the public domain.

Already 30 years ago the Holy See issued a charter of the rights of the family.   Among these rights are the following

* The family has the right to exercise its social and political function in the construction of society.

* Families have the right to be able to rely on adequate family policy on the part of public authorities in the juridical, economic, social and fiscal domains, without any discrimination whatsoever

* The family has the right to decent housing, fitting for family life and commensurate to the number of the members, in a physical environment that provides the basic services for the life of the family and the community.

It doesn’t take much thought to see how far away we are from the implementation of these rights –on our doorsteps.

Yes, we must pray for families today, but prayer must translate into action.

Fr Sean Wales, C.Ss.R.

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