A wonderful review for Family ExtraPosted on 21st August 2018

Especially created for the World Meeting of Families with Pope Francis in Dublin, this publication is meant for families wherever, whenever, after that important event. More than twenty writers have contributed to this practical insight into the rich tapestry of family living.

Starting with a selection of Pope Francis’ sayings on family, the booklet goes on to show that family is not a definition, but a lived experience:it is the place where we learn to be holy. The first married couple to be canonised [by Pope Francis, just three years ago this October] were Zelie and Louis Martin, parents of Saint Therese of the Child Jesus, who became a saint because of them, not they because of her!

Relationship is at the heart of family living, because it reflects the reality of our Loving God. It involves great vulnerability:love hurts; and it involves the shock of parenting, when another human being shifts focus radically from self to the other. The daily process of forming children and young people in the faith adds massive responsibility. Children need mums and dads, and absence of dads can be tragic. Becoming a grandparent brings its own fresh identity and added responsibility.

What happens when mum or dad’s not well, when a loved one is trapped in dementia, when redundancy hits home, when a child is bullied, when coping with intellectual disability, when in bereavement:all these aspects, and more, are covered in this volume. Then there are stories of biblical families from Old and New Testament, which show that there is no such thing as an ideal family, and highlight both the dark and light moments, and the differences.

Parents have the unique gift and privilege of being co-creators of human life, bringing to birth individual bundles of wonder and mystery. This kaleidoscope of articles will bring them encouragement and help in so many practical ways. And children will benefit too, not least from the activities and puzzles provided for them. And all this for a full-colour superbly printed volume in A4 format for the price of a wedding anniversary card! Wonderful value!

© Denis Blackledge SJ

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