Pope Francis said that as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a small table and set it off to the side of the dining hall so the grandfather would eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family. One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing with a piece of wood. “What are you making?” he asked his son. “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” Ever since that day, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter-in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said the Pope, who will celebrate his 78th birthday on December 17. “Grandparents are a treasure,” he said. “Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added. (http://www.catholicherald.co.uk/news/2013/11/19/grandparents-are-a-treasure-says-pope-francis/)
A few years ago, a study was undertaken to find the U.S. city with the lowest incidence of cancer and heart disease. The winner was Rosetto, Pennsylvania. Soon experts descended upon the city expecting to see a town populated by non-smokers, people who ate the correct food, took regular exercise and kept close track of their cholesterol. To their great surprise, however, the researchers discovered that none of the above was true. They found instead that the city’s good health was tied to the close family bonds that prevailed within the community. This suggests that there is much to be said for a close and loving family relationship. (Robert Duggan & Richard Jajac).
From Fr. Jude Botelho:
This first reading is a commentary on the fourth commandment: ‘Honour your father and your mother.’ We often think that this commandment in terms of obligation of younger children to obey their parents. But there is another essential part of it: the obligation of grown up children to ensure that their aged parents are able to live out their final years in comfort and dignity. This is of great relevance today. The author of Ecclesiasticus asserts that kindness to parents is especially pleasing to God, who accepts it as atonement for one’s sins. He also adds: “Whoever respects his father will be happy with children of his own.”
In an audience Pope Paul VI told how one day, when he was Archbishop of Milan, he went out on parish visitation. During the course of the visitation he found an old woman living on her own. ‘How are you?’ he asked her. ‘Not bad,’ she answered. ‘I have enough food, and I’m not suffering from the cold.’ ‘You must be reasonably happy then?’ he said. ‘No, I’m not’, she said as she started to cry. ‘You see, my son and daughter-in-law never come to see me. I’m dying of loneliness.’ Afterwards he was haunted by the phrase ‘I’m dying of loneliness’. And the Pope concluded: ‘Food and warmth are not enough in themselves. People need something more. They need our presence, our time, our love. They need to be touched, to be reassured that they are not forgotten.’
- Flor McCarthy in ‘New Sunday and Holy Day Liturgies’
A military commander’s three-year-old daughter was a bundle of joy and energy. The commander was noted for strict discipline. One day, annoyed with the child’s antics, the mother commented to father: “What is the use of your being a disciplinarian. Look at your daughter, so naughty and mischievous. Why don’t you bring a little discipline in her? The commander took this seriously. He called his daughter and said to her, “Today onwards you should be well disciplined.” She said, “OK Daddy!” “Don’t call me Daddy. Whenever you want to talk to me you should start with Sir and end with Sir”, said he. The girl immediately responded, “Sir, yes, Sir.” Even if she wanted to have ice cream she had to “Sir, I want ice cream Sir.” One day the commander went shopping and the little girl wanted to go along. He agreed to take her provided she sat in the back seat of the car. She agreed and about half the way to their destination he felt a little hand on the back of his neck and heard her….. “Sir, I love you Sir.” The commander got the message.
- G. Francis Xavier in ‘The World’s Best Inspiring Stories’
It was a busy day in Costa Mesa, a Californian home. But then, with ten children and one on the way, every day was a bit hectic for Davida Dalton. On this particular day, however, she was having trouble doing even the routine chores-all because of one little boy. Len, who was three at that time, was on her heels no matter where she went. Whenever she stopped to do something and turned back around, she would trip over him. Several times, she patiently suggested fun activities to keep him occupied “Wouldn’t you like to play on the swing set?” she asked him. But he simply smiled an innocent smile and said, “Oh, that’s all right, Mommy. I’d rather be in here with you.” Then he continued to bounce happily along behind her. After stepping on his toes for the fifth time, she began to lose her patience and insisted that he go outside and play with the other children. When she angrily asked him why he was acting this way, he looked up at her with sweet green eyes and said, “Well, Mummy in the school my teacher told me to walk in Jesus’ footsteps. But I can’t see him, so I’m walking in yours.” She gathered him in her arms and held him close. Tears of love and humility spilled over from the prayer that grew in her heart prayer of thanks for the simple, yet beautiful perspective of a three-year-old boy.
- John Rose in ‘John’s Sunday Homilies’
-Glenstal Bible Missal
The movie Shane starring Alan Ladd has become a frontier classic. Shane is a mythical American hero who fights for the rights of defenseless homesteaders being terrorized by a lawless cattleman and his hired gunmen. Shane himself is an ex-gunslinger who is searching for something to give meaning to his life. At first he merely befriends the Start family, who take him in as a hired hand for their farm. But when trouble begins, Shane becomes their defender and savior. He risks his life for Joe and Marion Start and their son Li’l Joe in order to save their pride and property from the ruthless cattleman. The movie Shane is more than a cowboy legend. It is also a modern parable about a Christ-figure and about family life. Shane is a Christ-figure in the story, not in the sense of his use of guns and fistfights, but in the sense of a celibate man who defends the powerless, risks his life for them, and then rides off alone to help someone else.
- Albert Cylwicki in ‘His Word Resounds’
As a student, Daniel Webster (author of Webster’s Dictionary) was particularly marked for being untidy. Finally the teacher, in exasperation, told him that if he appeared again with such dirty hands she would thrash him. He did appear in the same condition. “Daniel”, she said, “hold out your hand.” Daniel spat on his palm, with an intention to clean it, rubbed it on his trousers and held it out. The teacher surveyed it in disgust. “Daniel”, she said, “if you can find me another hand in this school that is dirtier than that, I will let you off.” Daniel promptly held out his other hand! –Many children with an eccentric trait blossom into geniuses. The teachers and parents should not underestimate them or humiliate them.
- G. Francis Xavier in ‘The World’s Best Inspiring Stories’
Clovis Chappell, a minister from a century back, used to tell the story of two paddleboats. They left Memphis about the same time, traveling down the Mississippi River to New Orleans. As they traveled side by side, sailors from one vessel made a few remarks about the snail's pace of the other. Words were exchanged. Challenges were made. And the race began. Competition became vicious as the two boats roared through the Deep South.
Ability to Deal with Crises in a Positive Manner. "They were willing to take a bad situation, see something positive in it and focus on that."
Time Together. "In all areas of their lives--meals, work, recreation--they structured their schedules to spend time together."
High Degree of Commitment. "Families promoted each person's happiness and welfare, invested time and energy in each other and made family their number one priority."
Good Communication Patterns. "These families spent time talking with each other. They also listened well, which shows respect."
High Degree of Religious Orientation. "Not all belonged to an organized church, but they considered themselves highly religious." (1983)
Moody Monthly, December, 1989, p. 72.
*Traditional meaning of the marriage ceremony is lost.
*Feminist movements abound.
*Increased public disrespect for parents and authority in general.
*Acceleration of juvenile delinquency, promiscuity, and rebellion.
*Refusal of people with traditional marriages to accept family responsibilities.
*Growing desire for and acceptance of adultery.
*Increasing interest in and spread of sexual perversions and sex-related crimes.
2. Take off ten pounds or accept where you are without any more complaints.
3. Eat dinner together as a family for seven days in a row.
4. Take your wife on a dialogue date (no movie, guys).
5. Read your kids a classic book (Twain's a good start).
6. Memorize the Twenty-third Psalm as a family.
7. Give each family member a hug for twenty-one days in a row (that's how long the experts say it takes to develop a habit).
9. Go out for a non-fast food dinner as a family.
10. Pray for your spouse and children every day.
11. Plan a vacation together.
12. Take a vacation together.
13. Read a chapter from the Bible every day until it becomes a habit.
14. Sit together as a family in church.
15. Surprise your teenage. Wash his car and fill up his gas tank.
16. Take an afternoon off from work; surprise your child by excusing him from school and taking him to a ball game.
17. Take a few hours one afternoon and go to the library as a family.
18. Take a walk as a family.
19. Write each member of your family a letter sharing why you value them.
20. Give your spouse a weekend getaway with a friend (same gender!) to a place of their choice.
21. Go camping as a family.
22. Go to bed early (one hour before your normal bedtime) every day for a week.
23. Take each of your children out to breakfast (individually) at least once a month for a year.
24. Turn down a promotion that would demand more time from your family than you can afford to give.
25. Religiously wear your seat belts.
26. Get a complete physical.
27. Exercise a little every day for a month.
28. Make sure you have adequate life insurance on both you and your spouse.
29. Write out information about finances, wills, and important business information that your spouse can use to keep things under control in the event of your death.
30. Make sure your family car is safe (tires, brakes, etc.) and get it tuned up.
31. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarm.
32. Put a security system in your house.
33. Attend the parent/teacher meetings of each child as a couple.
34. Help your kids with their homework.
35. Watch the kids on Saturday while your wife goes shopping (but if a friend calls, don't say that you're "babysitting").
36. Explain to your spouse exactly what you do for a living.
37. Put together a picture puzzle. (One thousand pieces or more.)
38. Take time during the week to read a Bible story to your children and then discuss it with them.
39. Encourage each child to submit to you his most perplexing question, and promise him that you'll either answer it or discuss it with him.
40. Finish fixing something around the house.
41. Tell your kids how you and your spouse met.
42. Tell your kids about your first date.
43. Sit down and write your parents a letter thanking them for a specific thing they did for you. (Don't forget to send it!)
44. Go on a shopping spree where you are absolutely committed to buying nothing.
45. Keep a prayer journal for a month. Keep track of the specific ways that God answers your needs.
46. Do some stargazing away from the city with your family. Help your children identify constellations and conclude the evening with prayer to the majestic God who created the heavens.
47. Treat your wife to a beauty make-over (facial, manicure, haircut, etc.). I hear they really like this.
48. Give the kids an alternative to watching Saturday morning cartoons (breakfast at McDonald's, garage sales, the park, chores, etc.).
49. Ask your children each day what they did at school (what they learned, who they ate lunch with, etc.).
50. After you make your next major family decision, take your child back through the process and teach him how you arrived at your decision.
51. Start saying to yourself "My car doesn't look so bad."
52. Call you wife or husband from work just to see how they're doing.
53. Compile a family tree and teach your children the history of their ancestors.
54. Walk through an old graveyard with your children.
55. Say no to at least one thing a day -- even if it's only a second piece of pie.
56. Write that letter to the network that broadcast the show you felt was inappropriate for prime-time viewing.
57. Turn off the lights and listen to a "praise" tape as you focus your thoughts on the Lord.
58. Write a note to your pastor praising him for something.
59. Take back all the books in your library that actually belong in someone else's library.
60. Give irritating drivers the right to pull in front of you without signaling and yelling at them.
61. Make every effort to not let the sun go down on your anger.
62. Accept legitimate criticism from your wife or a friend without reacting or defending yourself.
63. If your car has a Christian bumper sticker on in -- drive like it.
64. Do a Bible study on the "wise man" and the "fool" in Proverbs...and then apply what it takes to be wise to your life.
65. Make a list of people who have hurt your feelings over the past year...then check your list to see if you've forgiven them.
66. Make a decision to honor your parents, even if they made a career out of dishonoring you.
67. Take your children to the dentist and doctor for your wife.
68. Play charades with your family, but limit subjects to memories of the past.
69. Do the dishes for your wife.
70. Schedule yourself a free day to stay home with your family.
71. Get involved in a family project that serves or helps someone less fortunate.
72. As a family, get involved in a recreational activity.
73. Send your wife flowers.
74. Spend an evening going through old pictures from family vacations.
75. Take a weekend once a year for you and your spouse to get away and renew your friendship.
76. Praise your spouse and children -- in their presence -- to someone else.
77. Discuss a world or national problem, and ask your children for their opinion on it.
78. Wait up for your teenagers when they are out on dates.
79. Have a "quiet Saturday" (no television, no radio, no stereo...no kidding).
80. If your children are little, spend an hour playing with them -- but let them determine the game.
81. Have your parents tell your children about life when they were young.
82. Give up soap operas.
83. De-clutter your house.
84. If you have a habit of watching late night television, but have to be to work early every morning, change your habit.
85. Don't accept unnecessary breakfast appointments.
86. Write missionaries regularly.
87. Go through your closets and give everything that you haven't worn in a year to a clothing relief organization.
88. Become a faithful and frequent visitor of your church's library.
89. Become a monthly supporter of a Third World child.
90. Keep mementos, school projects, awards, etc. of each child in separate files. You'll appreciate these when they've left the nest.
91. Read the biography of a missionary.
92. Give regularly and faithfully to conscientious church endeavors.
93. Place with your will a letter to each family member telling why you were glad you got to share life with him or her.
94. Go through your old records and tapes and discard any of them that might be a bad testimony to your children.
95. Furnish a room (or a corner of a room) with comfortable chairs and declare it the "disagreement corner." When conflicts arise, go to this corner and don't leave until it's resolved.
96. Give each child the freedom to pick his favorite dinner menu at least once a week.
97. Go over to a shut-in's house as a family and completely clean it and get the lawn work done.
98. Call an old friend from your past, just to see how he or she is getting along.
99. Get a good friend to hold you accountable for a specific important need (Bible reading, prayer, spending time with your family, losing a few pounds, etc.).
100. Establish a budget.
101. Go to a Christian marriage enrichment seminar.