Having a family is hard work. Let’s be honest: Being a parent is hard work. I love the way comedian Jim Gaffigan describes it: “Anyone who’s a parent knows that it’s a thankless job, with ridiculous hours. But at least the pay is terrible.” Yes, raising a family is difficult. However, the rewards of family life go beyond the personal. Families have tremendous benefits for both society and church. Families produce productive citizens who pay taxes and contribute to the common good. Families produce baptized children who grow in the faith, serve their neighbor, witness to the faith in their vocations and pass on the faith to their children.
Sadly, traditional families (and large families) are becoming a lost virtue in our time. Perhaps that’s because it’s hard to raise a family. As Robert Capon said, “It’s hard to make a home. It’s hard to raise a family — hard to manage the intractable [pig headed] results of bed and board without doing irreparable damage to somebody.” Yes, our sinful nature makes raising a family tough enough, but now we live in a society that has become hostile to traditional family. Even so, now more than ever, the Church stands in a profound position to reclaim family virtue; to celebrate the roles of Christian mothers and fathers, the importance of our children and the joy and virtue of having a “quiver” full of children (Ps. 127:3-5).
Reclaiming family virtue begins quite simply with men and women, pastors and parents, all teaching and celebrating the God ordained vocations of the family. The Table of Duties in the Small Catechism is a great tool for this. It’s simply a summary of Bible passages about being a Christian husband, wife, father, mother and child (as well as being a good citizen and church member). These vocations are at the core of the family and at the core of the Church. Thus, reclaiming family virtue begins with you and me having caring conversations with children, with grandchildren, with students and with congregation members about how God creates and ordains the family through the one flesh union of a husband and wife (Genesis 1-2); how God orders the family through the vocations of husband, wife and children; and how God sustains the family through the vocations of father, mother and siblings. The family is a blessing. Let’s reclaim it, teach it and celebrate it!
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