In Familiaris consortio 86 Saint John Paul II said, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” The family is the domestic church, the mission base, the place where children learn how to love and proclaim Christ. A cultural transformation is impossible without the family. The New Evangelization is inseparable from the Christian family, which is why the family must be loved, respected, and defended.
In order to address the current crisis we must strengthen our marital preparation programs and improve our mentorship of young married couples. We need to assist parents in their role as primary educators of their children by providing them with authentically Catholic catechetical and spiritual resources. Parents must be assured that what they are teaching at home is being supported, not contradicted, by parochial and parish catechetical programs.
If we are serious about being leaven in society, then we must support and nourish the family, where the virtues are lived and taught. The French use the word torroir when speaking about the impact that many environmental factors – the temperature, humidity, etc. – have upon the vines and eventually on the grapes and the wine they produce. These many factors can all be discerned in the each wine’s unique character. It is the same with the family. It is the cultural torroir that influences the family and ultimately the children and their ability to love and to cherish others; to be honest and respectful to all; and to practice the virtues of mercy and forgiveness. It is also in the family that children learn the virtues of generosity, trust, responsibility, solidarity and cooperation. They learn to serve, to sacrifice, to be patient, to seek the good and well-being of others, and to be open to others. In other words, children learn the heart of the Gospel message – to know Christ, to love Christ, and to proclaim Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI understood the irreplaceable role of the family in transforming culture: “It is in the family that peacemakers, tomorrow’s promoters of a Culture of Life and Love, are born and nurtured.” (World Day of Peace, January 1, 2013)