“Where there is family, there is love.” Popular quotes like this are often seen framed and hanging on a wall decorating a room, but are frequently neglected. However, this phrase does hold profound and valuable truth.
Families provide the foundation of society, through which our first encounters with the world around us take place and our understanding of our role and response is shaped. Because God created humanity out of love and designed us for the purpose of sharing love, families are meant to be full of love, care and guidance — just as Jesus experienced in the Holy Family. For this reason, our Catholic faith teaches us that, "... the family is the 'domestic church' where God's children learn to pray 'as the Church' and to persevere in prayer" (Catechism 2685).
I was blessed to be raised in a loving and stable family that strove to follow Christian teaching. From celebrating each other's accomplishments to praying and eating together for daily meals, we value love and family togetherness. However, it didn't take many years in my life to realize that so many others were being raised in different situations.
I have witnessed friends and classmates grow up in broken, unstable family environments, which impacted their development. Whether it was due to financial stresses, baggage from their own difficult childhoods or other reasons, one or both of their parents couldn’t provide an example of living in a loving relationship with each other and sometimes with their own children. These voids left deep wounds in my peers' lives, negatively impacting their understanding of what a healthy relationship should look like.
In these unfortunate situations, where young people lack guidance and Christ-focused counsel, they often seek other worldly influences to fill the void, readily available in the form of social media and unhealthy peer pressures.
Let's face it. Children without a healthy sense of family, in whatever form that may take, yearn for love, acceptance and guidance. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether or not we are ready to respond to God's calling to reach out to these youth in need of a sense of belonging.
Thankfully, we all witness many examples of Christ-inspired people doing just that, meeting a critical need for the individual, while impacting society for the better. At Subiaco Academy, where I attend high school, several Benedictine monks and staff engage in the lives of the students. One inspiring example is Brother Ambrose Fryer, who with his wise and caring counsel, intentionally sets aside time with each of his students at the end of the semester to check in on their well-being and provide prayerful guidance. Such positive role models extend a sense of family to those in need, helping overcome the painful voids too many youth endure.
We can all be family to others in need: the dad who intentionally brings the fatherless brothers in his neighborhood fishing along with his own children, the parents who choose to foster children in their homes, and the teenager who takes time to be present to another hurting youth while playing catch, are just a handful of concrete examples of people being family to others in need, sharing Christ's love.
God's love for us mirrors the love we are called to show others. Our responsibility is to fulfill Jesus' commandment to "love one another as I have loved you" (John 13:34).
For "where there is family, there is love," and indeed, where there is love, there is God.
Anthony Gehrig will be a senior at Subiaco Academy. St. Patrick Cathedral in Fort Worth is his home parish.
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