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Ramiro Pellitero, Professor of Theology

Family and Education in the faith

Mon, 05 May 2014 10:57:00 +0000 Posted in

The Aparecida Document (V lecture of CELAM, 2007), whose main editor was Pope Francis, wishes to give a renewing impulse to evangelization in Latin America. At the same time, it contains theological-pastoral orientations useful for the whole Church and can be considered as one of the "sources" of the current pontificate. It is in this context that his reflections and suggestions about the Education in the faith, especially those addressed to families and schools.

  1. There it is noted how, starting from the current scientific-technological development , "the means of communication have invaded all spaces and all conversations, entering also into the intimacy of the home". Although it does not deny the progress it represents in many fields, it is nevertheless affirmed, on the one hand, that this development affects the deepest nucleus of every culture, constituted by religious experience, and hinders the transmission of the faith, particularly through the family. More generally, it also affects the transmission of the wisdom of traditions. And all this "causes people to search earnestly for an experience of meaning that fulfills the demands of their vocation, where they will never be able to find it" (n. 39).

  2. This makes it necessary for the family to resume its responsibility particularly in the Education of faith: "In the bosom of a family the person discovers the motives and the way to belong to the family of God. From it we receive life, the first experience of love and faith. The great treasure of the Education of children in the faith consists in the experience of a family life that receives the faith, preserves it, celebrates it, transmits it and witnesses to it. Parents must become newly aware of their joyful and unrenounceable responsibility in the integral training of their children". Certainly, the family is not alone in this task that surpasses it, but is supported by the Church, the family of God. Therefore, all Christians, from agreement with our condition and circumstances, gifts, ministries and charisms, are responsible for the Education in the faith: "Either we educate in the faith, really putting in contact with Jesus Christ and inviting to follow him, or we will not fulfill our evangelizing mission statement " (n. 287).

  3. The family, in any case, has a priority in this task, especially in Latin American culture, centered - in contrast to other cultures - on the values of life and the family, of persons and of communication between them. Benedict XVI said it this way in the inaugural speech of the lecture in Aparecida:"The family, 'patrimony of humanity', constitutes one of the most valuable treasures of the Latin American peoples. It has been and continues to be a space and school of communion, source of human and civic values, a home where human life is born and welcomed generously and responsibly" .

  4. Aware of this valuable treasure, parents need to financial aid in their role as "first catechists", providing them with "formative spaces, catechetical materials, celebratory moments" that will allow them to fulfill their educational mission statement . A mission statement that has various aspects: "The family, the little Church, together with the parish, should be the first place for the Christian initiation of children. It offers children a Christian sense of existence and accompanies them in the elaboration of their life project as missionary disciples" (n. 302). "It is also the duty of parents, especially through their example of life, to Education their children to love as a gift of themselves and to financial aid them to discover their vocation of service, whether in the lay or consecrated life" (n. 303).

  5. The basis for this training of the children as disciples of Jesus Christ - it is added - are the experiences of daily life in the family. "Children have the right to be able to count on their father and mother to take care of them and accompany them towards the fullness of life. The 'familycatechesis ', implemented in various ways, has proved to be a successful financial aid to the unity of families, offering also an efficient possibility to form parents, young people and children to be firm witnesses of the faith in their respective communities" (Ibid.) Christian and missionary initiation, Education of love, service and witness. No more can be said in fewer words, simple and profound, about the educating role of faith in the family in the context of evangelization.