1 March 2021

Viewpoint

Viewpoint year of the family
David Ahern

David Ahern

Current editor of The Majellan, David has spent more than 40 years as an editor/journalist

What constitutes a family in 2021? An interesting question that can be difficult to define. Many people who have been subscribing to the Majellan for decades may have a traditional view of family. That is, a working husband and a stay-at-home wife caring for young children.

The Majellan has long been a strong supporter of the family and, in its early days, was even known as the Champion of the Family. Majellan writers provided sound advice about what mum and dad could do to help their relationship if they were experiencing difficulties and tips on how best to bring up children. There were articles about repairing fractious relationships, sibling rivalries, coping with grief, depression and anxiety, financial tips and strengthening your faith.

Pope Francis recently announced that from March 19 on St Joseph’s feast day, a year of the family will begin. The celebration will conclude with the World Meeting of Families in Rome on June 26, 2022. The introductory article in this issue is on the year of the family. It is written by Bishop Paul Bird who was editor of the Majellan for 13 years.

Bishop Paul wrote in the Majellan’s 70th anniversary book: “Over the years, the Majellan has sought to address people’s joys and hopes, and their griefs and anxieties, especially in relation to family life. The commitment to be close to families continues to the present.”

But over time traditions change and family now can mean a lot of different things to different people. For example, on December 9, 2017, Australians voted for same sex marriage. A clear majority of people voted Yes in the referendum. The winds of change were undeniable.

And for couples raising a family today, the options are never-ending. Dads can stay-at-home to look after the kids, mums can be the chief bread winner, and because of the pandemic the home for many has replaced the office.

Pope Francis says the year of the family will coincide with the fifth anniversary of Amoris Laetitia or the Joy of Love, his apostolic exhortation that addressed the pastoral care of families.

“Let us entrust this journey, with families all over the world, to the Holy Family of Nazareth, in particular to St Joseph, the devoted spouse and father,” said Pope Francis. “It aims to reach every family around the world through several spiritual, pastoral and cultural proposals that can be implemented within parishes, dioceses, universities, ecclesial movements and family associations.”

But not all families, unfortunately, function well. Domestic violence is still a major issue in society and there are ongoing rifts between siblings and between children and their parents. Some quarrels are resolved over time while, sadly, others never heal.

When announcing the year of the family, Pope Francis offered some salient advice to bickering families, reminding them to say, “pardon me, thank you and sorry” and never end the day without settling their differences.

Despite the imperfections, families are essential to the fabric of an effective, productive and prosperous society. Sure, families can be unpredictable. Families can be sad. Families can be annoying. But families can also be loving.

Let’s be grateful for our families.  

 

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