This day holds a special importance for me, not because I have a particularly strong devotion to St. Joachim and Ann, but because today is my mother’s birthday. Since I have been a priest, this day has caused me to think about the role of parenthood in developing a saint. and because I think my mother on this day, I think of her mother, grandmother. I can’t help but think about how faith gets passed on from one generation to the next.
I parents are both active, practicing Catholics. For both of them, handing on Catholic faith to me and my brother, was an important priority. Sundays were particularly special and important days. Sundays were days for family, and were often spent in the company of relatives. On this morning, my father made brunch, and we read the newspaper as a family. When I mentioned this to kids today, they think I’m a little bit crazy. While that may be true, what was most important is that the entire day was an event for God. We went to mass, and we ate together as a family, and we celebrated as a family, because that was the most tangible way our family lived out vocation.
My memories of Sundays, which we shared as a family, are deep and rich. I am most grateful for the memories of the time I spent with my family and my relatives. It is giving me a rich understanding and experience that I could not have received in any other way.
Sadly, such family traditions are harder to maintain in these days, and in far too many circumstances, these family traditions have become nonexistent. There are many reasons for such a dramatic change. First, as divorce is becoming easier to obtain, the family has taken on more iterations. Single-parent families, blended families, and grandparents raising their grandchildren, are but a few of the ways the family structures are changed. In certain parts of our country, children do not even know both of their parents. In other circumstances, the environment that surrounds families today is so chaotic and violent, is to make the priorities necessary to develop such traditions becomes almost impossible.
Because of the brokenness of families today, I think it is become popular to describe parish is a family. We seek the type of familial relationships with one another in faith, that the ideal family provides. Like families, our parish family has both the deep and abiding relationships that strengthen us and help us to become more human, and those faults and failings that give rise to the need to forgive and to heal.
Today’s first reading is a picture of broken relationships. The broken relationships identified in the first reading are about the abandonment of a way of life. Faith is no longer at the heart center of the people’s lives. Much like today, there is chaos and difficulty because of the choices to abandon his faith.
Invitation to grow in faith is the same now as it was in the days of Jeremiah. We are invited to become more active participants in our parish family, and to recognize the great gift of the relationships it can provide us. But for this to occur, whether in our own families, or in our parish family, the fostering of such relationships must be at the center of our priorities.
As the second Vatican Council indicated, a family is the domestic Church. How we model the Church in our own families becomes the way in which we witness to the grace and power of the love of Christ for the Church. Let us seek the prayerful intercession of St. Joachim and Ann that our families may reflect the ideals of the family that is the Church.