Family Life

“Families Are A Sign of God’s Presence”

“Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations.”
Psalm 90:1

What is Family?

Families are an intimate community of persons bound together by blood, marriage or adoption for the whole of life. Family members develop an intimacy because they share experiences over the years that contribute to their uniqueness. Family exists at the heart of all societies. It is the first and most basic community to which every person belongs. There is nothing more fundamental to our vitality as a society and as a Church.

For, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.”

“Every human being has a need to be loved, to have a home where he or she can put down roots and grow. The family is the first and indispensable community in which this need is met” (Pastoral Letter of U.S. Bishops). Families have a great calling that is rooted in Christ’s teaching and developed in the life of His believing community. The Church offers families the healing, strength and support of Christ. It invites families to examine the quality of their lives and asks them to reflect on their strengths as well as their weaknesses; on their resources as well as their needs. It helps families recognize their resources and carry out their responsibilities in a changing world.

The four tasks of family are:

  1. Becoming an intimate community of persons
  2. Creating, nourishing, sustaining, respecting, and educating
  3. Participating in the development in society
  4. Sharing in the mission of the larger Church

Family Life at St. Mary

St. Mary is a “family friendly” parish that recognizes families not as a collection of individuals, but as a developing system whose members are essentially interconnected. We respect families and support their diverse structures, needs, economic statuses, and cultural heritages. Our parish partners with families in educating and supporting the faith formation of all family members across their lifespan. In affirming that the family is the foundation of the Church and society, St. Mary Parish, along with the Family Life Office for the Diocese of Columbus, responds to the needs of families through:

  • Promoting a family perspective
  • Nurturing family spirituality
  • Affirming Christ-like values
  • Supporting the growth of healthy family systems
  • Educating in family life skills
  • Advocating for families

When we gather as a parish family to celebrate Mass and the Sacraments we share the communion of Father, Son, and Spirit. We truly become family when we live and acknowledge others as children of God. We manifest the kingdom of God when we celebrate our joys, support each other through our sorrows, and share the lives of each other.

We know you face many obstacles as you try to maintain strong family ties and follow your calling as a church of the home. Pressure is brought to bear on families not only by outside forces but by those ordinary and inevitable tensions that arise from within. Some are affected by forces beyond their control. They, however, can continue with prayerful determination and trust in God.

We promise to do our part to shed the light of the Sacred Scriptures and our Catholic tradition on the key issues which you face and to join with families to proclaim Christ to the world.

You Are the Church in Your Home

(National Conference of Catholic Bishops)

A family is our first community and the most basic way in which the Lord gathers us, forms us and acts in the world. The early Church expressed this truth by calling the Christian family a Domestic Church or Church of the Home.

As families, you carry out the mission of the Church of the Home in the ordinary ways when:

  • You believe in God and that God cares about you, in good times and in bad.
  • You love and value others. Children form a picture of God from the love they experience among their relatives and godparents.
  • You foster intimacy. To share oneself and be accepted within a family is indispensable to forming a close relationship with the Lord.
  • You evangelize by professing faith in God, acting in accord with gospel values, and setting an example of Christian living for your children and others.
  • You educate, especially by example. Sometimes children listen and learn; sometimes they teach adults. Your wisdom and theirs come from the same Spirit.
  • You pray together, thanking God for blessings, reaching for strength, asking for guidance in crisis and doubt.
  • You serve one another, often sacrificing your own wants for the other’s good. Your “deaths” and “risings” become compelling signs of Jesus’ own life, death, and resurrection.
  • You forgive and seek reconciliation. When you do so, family members come to believe that no matter what, they are still loved by you and by God.
  • You celebrate life, whether for birthdays, weddings, births, deaths, first day of school or graduation, new jobs, old friends, family reunions, surprise visits, holy days and holidays.
  • You come together when tragedy strikes or in joyful celebration of the sacraments. As you gather for a meal, you break bread and share stories, becoming more fully the community of love Jesus calls us to be.
  • You welcome the stranger, the lonely one, the grieving person into your home. You give drink to the thirsty and food to the hungry. The gospel assures us that when we do this, they are strangers no more, but Christ.
  • You act justly in your community when you treat others with respect, stand against discrimination and racism, and work to overcome hunger, poverty, homelessness, and illiteracy.
  • You affirm life as a precious gift of God. You oppose whatever destroys life, such as abortion, euthanasia, unjust war, capital punishment, neighborhood and domestic violence, poverty and racism. Within your family, you make peace.
  • You raise up vocations to the priesthood and religious life. This is especially fostered through family prayer, involvement in parish life, and by the way you speak of priests, sisters, brothers, and permanent deacons.

Family Life Messages

I ran into a stranger as he passed by, “Oh excuse me please,” was my reply.

He said, “Please excuse me too; I wasn’t watching for you.”

We were very polite, this stranger and I. We went on our way and we said good-bye. But at home, a different story is told. How we treat our loved ones, young and old.

Later that day. cooking the evening meal, my son stood beside me very still. When I turned, I nearly knocked him down. “Move out of my way,” I said with a frown. He walked away, his little heart broken, I didn’t realize how harshly I had spoken. While I lay awake in bed, God’s still small voice came to me and said, “While dealing with a stranger, common courtesy you use, but the children you love, you seem to abuse. Go and look on the kitchen floor, you’ll find some flowers there by the door. Those are flowers he brought for you. He picked them himself: pink, yellow and blue. He stood very quietly not to spoil the surprise, and you never saw the tears that filled his little eyes.”

By this time, I felt very small, and now my tears began to fall. I quietly went and knelt by his bed; “Wake up, little one, wake up,” I said. “Are these the flowers you picked for me?”
He smiled, “I found ’em, out by the tree. I picked ’em because they’re pretty like you. I knew you’d like ’em, especially the blue.”

I said, “Son, I’m very sorry for the way I acted today; I shouldn’t have yelled at you that way.”

He said, “Oh, Mom, that’s okay. I love you anyway.”

I said, “Son, I love you too, and I do like the flowers, especially the blue.”

Are you aware that if we died tomorrow, the company that we are working for could easily replace us in a matter of days. But the family we left behind will feel the loss for the rest of their lives. And come to think of it, we pour ourselves more into work than to our own family . . . an unwise investment, indeed, don’t you think?

So what is behind the story? Do you know what the word FAMILY means?

FAMILY = Father  And  Mother  I  Love  You

No Time? No Time!
I knelt to pray but not for long,
I had too much to do.
I had to hurry and get to work
For bills would soon be due.

So I knelt and said a hurried prayer,
And jumped up off my knees.
My Christian duty was now done
My soul could rest at ease.

All day long I had no time
To spread a word of cheer.
No time to speak of Christ to friends,
They’d laugh at me I’d fear.

No time, no time, too much to do,
That was my constant cry,
No time to give to souls in need
But at last the time, the time to die.

I went before the Lord,
I came, I stood with downcast eyes.
For in his hands God held a book;
It was the book of life.

God looked into his book and said
“Your name I cannot find.
I once was going to write it down…
But never found the time”

– author unknown

Ways of Loving

(National Conference of Catholic Bishops)

We know you face obstacles as you try to maintain strong family ties and to follow your calling as a Church of the Home. The rapid pace of social change, the religious, ethnic and cultural diversity of our society; the revolution of values within our culture; the intrusion of mass media; the impact of political and economic conditions:  all these place families under considerable stress. There are four major challenges in family life. They are:  living faithfully, giving life, growing in mutuality, and taking time.

Living Faithfully

When a woman and a man vow to be true in good times and in bad, they are confirming a decision to love one another. But, as married couples have taught us, this decision to love is one we have to make over and over again, when it feels good and when it does not. It is a good decision to look for, act on, and pray for the good of the people we say we love. Our world needs living witnesses to fidelity to act as the most convincing signs of the love that Christ has for every human being. Couples who work to stay married, children who care for parents stricken with disease, parents who stand by adult children who reject family values, grandparents who help raise grandchildren when parents are unable and single parents who nurture and raise children are all examples of living faithful lives.

The faithful love in marriage and family is tested by change. Some changes in a family come unexpectedly. like a major illness, a job transfer or a job loss. Others fit more naturally into the flow of life, such as the birth of a child, the arrival of teenage years or adult children leaving home. Every change brings with it a measure of stress and uncertainty. For many, it is like a dark night of the soul. In these moments, dare to hope that you will rise to new experiences of love; entering  into the very mystery of Christ’s own dying and rising.

Maybe your family is trying to cope with a difficult change or loss. Perhaps you are torn by a conflict or trapped in an unhealthy pattern or behavior or relationships. If this is so, please seek God’s help and the support of the Church. The Church’s treasures of prayer and worship, learning and service, contemplation and spiritual guidance are always available to you. Also, do not hesitate to seek professional assistance. Counseling, for example, can help you to identify the personal resources you already have and to use them more effectively.

Giving Life

Welcoming a child through birth or adoption is an act of faith as well as an act of love. Being open to new life signals trust in God who ultimately creates and sustains all life. It is the beginning of a lifetime commitment to nurture, teach, discipline and finally let go of a child. The life that you give as parents is not just restricted to your offspring. Just as you cannot raise your children alone, the children of other families need guidance, as do other parents who can benefit from your hard-earned experience. Each generation of a family is challenged to leave the world a better place than it inherited. You can do this by passing on your wisdom and the faith of the Church, providing countercultural messages about poverty, consumerism, sexuality, and racial justice.

You also give life as a family by doing simple things such as taking a grandparent out of a nursing home for a ride, bringing a meal to a sick neighbor, helping to build homes for poor people, working in a soup kitchen, tutoring needy children, recycling your goods, working to improve schools, and joining political action of behalf of those treated unjustly. These activities build stronger family bonds.

Growing in Mutuality

At the basis of all relationships in a family is our fundamental equality as persons created in God’s image. Marriage is a partnership of a man and a woman equal in dignity and value. Realizing that each person has unique gifts, character and roles is important. A couple who accept their equality as sons and daughters in the Lord will honor and cherish one another. They will respect and value each other’s gifts and uniqueness. It is often easy for couples to bring an unhealthy competitive spirit to their relationship. Marriage and family must never involve a struggle for control. True equality, understood as mutuality, is not measuring out tasks and distributing duties.  When children are born, both mother and father are important in nurturing, guiding, disciplining and caring for them. Children, too, are part of the covenant of mutuality. They should be treated with respect , given responsibilities, listened to and valued. Elders should be cherished, not merely tolerated, for they are “a witness to the past and a source of wisdom for the young and for the future” (On the Family, U.S. Bishops).

The pattern of mutuality within a household is closely allied with the virtue of humility. Humility is forged in prayer, husbands and wives praying together, parents praying with and for their children. This is the heart of ministry within the Church of the Home.

Taking Time

Both men and women can get caught up in long hours and weekends in their place of employment. Balancing home, family, and work responsibilities is a shared obligation for spouses. Spending time together builds intimacy, increases understanding, and creates memories among family members.

It is important to take time to be together, make shared meals a priority, pray and worship together, build family traditions and rituals, take part in retreats and family education programs, watch television together and discuss the values being promoted on programs.

Building a Happy Home

For families, as for individuals, happiness is found in daily activities and attitudes. To build a happy home with an atmosphere of caring warmth for all who dwell there, begin with a solid foundation: love, commitment, respect, support, forgiveness, communication, spirituality, time together and traditions. Add a desire to enjoy life as a family rather than as individuals who happen to live together.

  • Show your love to family members each day through words and actions.
  • Stay committed to your family by putting family first in good times and in tough times.
  • Respect family members by valuing their human dignity and uniqueness.
  • Offer each other practical and emotional support, turn to professionals, as needed and rely on God’s strength.
  • Practice forgiving and asking for forgiveness.
  • Maintain honest and open communication in family relationships.
  • Discuss spiritual matters, attend religious services and pray together.
  • Schedule time for yourself, time to share activities as a couple and time to share activities as a family.
  • Initiate and maintain family rituals and traditions.
  • Share playful, pleasurable, joyous moments with people you love.

Five Ways to See Holiness in the Midst of Family Chaos

(Catholic Update by Mitch Finley)

Holiness includes humor and laughter, compassion and understanding and the capacity to forgive, to love and be loved. To be holy is to rejoice in oneself and in the gift of life. Families who are holy are charged with enthusiasm for life. What makes a family holy is not that it is totally free from conflict or that the members never hurt one another. It means struggling day after day to bring creative order – if only a little bit- to the chaos. It means working to cultivate forgiveness, reconciliation and community, in order to embody God’s holy will within the context of family life. Some people think they need to get away from their families to find God. Although it is important to make some quiet time for prayerful solitude, most of the time we will find God in the unpredictability of daily life. As difficult as it may seem, God is in the most tiring and painful situations as well in the moments of comfort and joy. In a holy family, people are frequently unkind to one another, but they keep on trying to love!

Here are some suggestions to find holiness in the midst of everyday family life:

  1. Give yourself a pat on the back each day because you are doing better at being a parent, being married, being a single member of your extended family than you give yourself credit for much of the time.
  2. Make the most of family meal prayer by lighting a candle, singing, or just by thanking God in ordinary language for the food and each other.
  3. Share the good news of another’s good example with your family by sharing a story of some person or family who is coping courageously to care for others to work through a difficult situation.
  4. Remember, that never, ever are you alone because God loves you and wants to help you more than you know.
  5. Build up bonds of mutual support with other families and friends through regular gatherings for meals, prayers or discussions.

A Blessing for Your Home

Bless our home and make it fit for You, O God.
Send Your Holy Spirit into each nook and cranny.
Let the walls resound with love and laughter.
Let your birds sing on your trees outside
and your lilies flourish in the garden.
Bless our kitchen and fill it with
the warmth of shared bread.
Bless our family room and fill it with
loving communication.
Bless our bedrooms and fill them with
restful slumber.
Bless each room and each of us, dear
God and make yourself at home with us.

Dorothy Curran, Family Prayer

Family Support Resources Available through the Diocese of Columbus

  • Pre-Cana Marriage Preparation gives support and helps prepare couple for a lifelong Christian marriage. For more information contact the Family Life Office at 614.241.2560.
  • Catholic Engaged Encounter is a weekend opportunity to set aside wedding plans, job issues, and day-to-day responsibilities to focus on your relationship. It is designed to explore and deepen your love relationship. Visit their website at http://www.engagedencounter.org or contact the Family Life Office at 614.241.2560.
  • Marriage Encounter is designed to give married couples the opportunity to examine their lives together and to rediscover each other and to focus on your relationship for an entire weekend. Visit their website at http://www.wwme.org or contact the Family Life Office at 614.241.2560.
    Natural Family Planning involves learning to understand the nature of fertility and to work with it to either plan or to avoid a pregnancy. It is also a wonderful method for strengthening the couple’s communication, broadening and better appreciating the many forms of intimacy, respecting each other’s limitations both physically and emotionally, and honoring our bodies in a manner that builds more respect and trust. For more information contact the Family Life Office at 614.241.2560.
  • Remarriage Preparation (Cana II) is a workshop designed to prepare those entering a marriage that is not the first for either partner. For further information contact the Family Life Office at 614.241.2560.
  • Retrouvaille is a weekend program and six follow-up sessions designed specifically for hurting marriages. Visit http://www.retrouvaille.org or call the Family Life Office for the Diocese of Columbus at 614.241.2560.
  • Sharing and Caring is an eight-week program designed to provide spiritual and emotional support for the newly widowed or divorced. Please call the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Columbus at 614.241.2560 for more information.
  • Family Violence:  If you need help against family violence, callNational Domestic Violence Hotline  1-800-799-SAFE or
    National Child Abuse Hotline  1-800-4-A-CHILD or
    National Center on Elder Abuse  1-800-677-1116For more information, visit http://www.christophers.org
  • Parenting Programs:  A variety of workshops and presentations are offered to address general parenting skills, self-esteem and communication. They include:
    1. Active Christian Parenting.
    2. How To Talk So Your Kids Will Listen and How To Listen So Your Kids Will Talk
    3. Parenting After Divorce

    Please call the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Columbus at 241-2560 for more information.

  • Bereavement:  Dealing With the Loss of a Loved One affects people in every way. You can call the Parish Office for information about grief counseling or on-going support groups offered at local hospital through the Hospice Foundation:Mount Carmel Hospice  614.234.0200
    Riverside / Grant Hospital  614.566.5377
    Children’s Hospital  614.722.5250
    Grady Memorial  740.548.4114, ext. 5223 (toll free)Additional information is available through the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Columbus at 614.241.2560.