Christmas and the Family
Posted by Massimo Camisasca on 10 July 2009 ·
In the few evenings I have free, I have decided to re-watch some pieces by Pirandello on DVD, that came as a gift with some magazines. Pirandello foresaw the crisis that would seize the European man in 1900 and he conveyed this through stories about the collapse of the middle-class family, which, according to him, marked the end of the family as an institution. This relationship, articulated by the playwright, between the difficulties of man and those of the family, made me reflect.
The problems he described coincide with those that come up in the almost daily meetings that I have with people who come to me for advice or help. If Pirandello was right, the dark path along which our families are walking is the result of the blurred awareness that man has of himself, consequently, the path towards a new beginning coincides with that towards the rebirth of the personal identity.
The human being lives in a condition of constant need. He needs other people to live, to become aware of himself, to become aware of his cultural, sexual, and moral identity. The first people that he experiences as ‘other’ from himself are his parents. Then there are friends and teachers. But one of the parental figures can be torn away from his family by death, and a family can fall apart for serious reasons. It is not my intention to pass judgment. Instead, I wish to indicate a real ideal, that can make life easier. Without doubt, having parents that love each other, in times of tension, trial, and difficulty as well, is a good thing for any child. Of course, people are going to do what is possible, but I cannot help indicating what I deeply desire for everyone, in other words, what has been prepared by God for each one of us. Parents ought to separate only due to extremely serious reasons. It must be the very last resort, a decision taken after long thought, and always for the sake of the children. Since I want to avoid any misinterpretation of my desire, as a magic formula or as an abstract idea, I am going to explain how this wish can become a reality. First of all, they must have friends who can advise and encourage; then there needs to be financial assistance for the children’s education, to prevent parents from being overwhelmed by their jobs when they should be with their children; they must have schools that can share the burden of education. Priests also ought to consider helping families as one of the primary responsibilities of their ministry. Above all, it is necessary to trust in God, to ask for His help, and to start praying again in our homes, even a few minutes every day: before each meal, before going to bed, in the morning, before going out. To recite simple prayers such as the Hail Mary or Our Father or the Angelus. We must be brave and confess to God our difficulties and ask for His help.
Today we are overwhelmed by information: fertility and sexuality have been separated, the male and female are no longer relevant. “We must break free from any predetermination. It’s up to us to decide if we are male or female; if we want to be in a stable relationship with a man or with a woman; if we want to have children or not and the children we are going to have.”
Alongside with the negative aspects of our times, we also have to acknowledge the steps forward that have been made, such as welfare policies that provide support for families and for maternity; medical research on fetal diseases, clinical tests to investigate the reasons of infertility, etc. But despite these positive developments, we have to bear in mind that our happiness depends on our acceptance of the objective data that exists before us and makes our growth possible: we receive our sexual identity, just as falling in love is a free act and a child is a gift. If the fundamental structure of our life is discarded, we won’t be following a path towards a greater good, but towards greater confusion which will make everyone more unhappy.
Christmas brings the Holy Family once again to our attention, who through their normality preserved something exceptional. Their normality was made up of the mutual trust between Joseph and Mary, who truly loved each other and faced together the exceptional destiny of their child, a boy like any other boy, who was, however, born through God’s will, with no intervention of his earthly father and who was God made man. How open to the unexpected, how great and confident is the soul that was dwelt with that Presence. I pray that it will be the same in the families of my readers.
In the picture: on the first page, mosaic by Marko Rupnik: Nativity, in the Chapel of the Adoring Nuns in Lenno, Como. The picture is taken by a calendar available on the website: www.lipaonline.org.