The Family Tree: Reflections for the World Meeting of Families 2018
by Anna Burke
The World Meeting of Families, which comes to Dublin in August, is an international event occurring every three years that uses prayer, celebration and catechesis to stress the importance of family life in society.
In preparation Anne Burke has written a book that uses inspiration and evidence from Scripture to explain the different ways that the family can positively affect faith and general quality of life, thereby supporting the message of the World Meeting of Families.
She shows that family trees grow from a root of God and His love. From its very beginning the family is a holy relationship. Burke points out that all of creation was meant for relationships, so it is only natural that we should desire to form familial relationships.
These relationships are also essential for understanding Scripture; for without family the covenant does not exist, and it is from the covenant that humanity’s relationship with God and Jesus is based.
These relationships allow us an identity and follow a path to piety through the making of collective memories, as well as teachings given from parent to child on how best to live a peaceful life in God’s image.
Yet these strong relationships are under threat from the distractions in modern society. The very pace of our culture is threatening familial structures. With so little time in the day, how is it possible to devote even a fraction of it to family life?
To combat this, Burke recommends a return to the tradition of the Sabbath, when we eliminate external distractions and focus on deepening our relationship with each other and with God, for these are in fact the most important relationships in our lives.
Families are able to help each other choose what kind of sustenance, such as entertainment or possessions, is healthy, so helping each other to navigate in an increasingly complicated society. The familial structure encourages the ability to listen and understand each other.
Families are integral to happiness and a good life. When families deteriorate, there is no longer a close support network that lets us help each other through sorrow and grief. Family is love, a root to the past and present, to Jesus and God, and without them the very fabric of society would begin to unravel.
Anna Burke’s book reminds us that the family is not just essential to life, it is life itself.