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Celebrating the Family

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jan 14, 2009

Starting today the Church is hosting the 6th World Meeting of Families in Mexico City. Cardinal Ennio Antonelli, president of the Pontifical Council for the Family, is hoping for a massive turnout at the religious observances and celebrations which will extend through Sunday, January 18th. Over one million people are expected to attend from all over the world.

I confess that I somehow missed the first five of these events. As far as I can recall, we’ve taken no note of them at all, or at least very little. Yet the family lies at the very heart of authentic human culture, and this is an event in which we can all participate. I don’t mean that we can all go to Mexico City, or even that we can all follow the festivities on Catholic television or radio (but how about the Internet at http://www.wmf2009.com/esp/index_esp.htm). Whatever the case, all of us can be more mindful of the family for the rest of this week, and especially more mindful of our own families.

It would be a small but significant gesture to make special contact with distant or lonely family members or, for those whose families are still at home, to have a special dinner or activity along with some prayers for (and in thanksgiving for) one's own family. Why not talk about the importance the Church places on the family, and how important your own family is? Mention the annual world celebration. If you want to do some foreign travel with your family, consider planning a trip to correspond with the 7th World Meeting of Families, which will be announced by Pope Benedict after this Sunday's Mass, in which he will participate by direct TV link. Let people know that it is a distinctive mark of Catholics to be family-centered.

I can imagine participation along these lines becoming an annual practice and gradually extending itself to friends, neighbors, and communities. Eventually, perhaps, some venerable customs will emerge; meanwhile, treat the opportunity with creativity and love. This is how culture gets done.

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