• Wartakanlah Injil kepada segala makhluk.
    Mrk 16:15

  • 你们往普天下去, 向一切受造物宣传福音
    谷 16:15

  • Everything is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit’s Grace.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • Segala sesuatu menjadi mungkin dalam kekuatan karunia Roh Kudus.
    St. Arnold Janssen

  • 我当传教士不是为主牺牲,而是上主给我的最大恩赐
    圣福若瑟神父

  • Với sức mạnh Ân Huệ của Chúa Thánh Thần, Mọi việc đều có thể được.
    St Arnoldus Janssen

  • Preach the Gospel to the whole creation./Anh em hãy đi khắp tứ phương thiên hạ, loan báo Tin Mừng cho mọi loài thọ tạo
    Mk 16:15

  • There are many different gifts, but it is always the same Spirit.
    1 Cor 12:4

  • And the Word became flesh and lived among us.
    Jn 1:14

  • Let the word of Christ, in all its richness, find a home with you.
    Col 3:16

  • To proclaim the Good News is the first and greatest act of love of neighbour.
    St Arnold Janssen

  • 传扬天国福音是第一且最大的爱近人行动
    圣杨生•爱诺德神父

  • Có nhiều đặc sủng khác nhau, nhưng chỉ có một Thần Khí/
    1 Cor. 14:4

  • 圣言成了血肉,寄居在我们中间
    若 1:14

  • Ada rupa-rupa karunia, tetapi Roh satu
    1 Kor 12:4

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Wednesday, 31 August 2016 14:15

Family and Faith - a reflection

Fr-Anthony-Le-Duc-SVD-150---LighterIn my family, one of my brothers in recent years has been given the title of “Deacon” by my other siblings. My brother is not actually a deacon, nor does he have any theological degrees or anything along this line. He’s been nicknamed deacon by my siblings because of his apparent deep faith and devotion. He spends a lot of his time attending Mass, religious functions, and reading spiritual books when he is not working his normal job as an engineer in a well-known company. He also enjoys talking about religious matters in family get-togethers.

When I was still living at home with my brothers, there was no evidence that my brother would turn out to be the “deacon” that he is today. Other than attending Sunday Mass, as it was obligatory in the Church and in my family, he did not really show much enthusiasm in spirituality, at least outwardly. And in fact, he was not particularly happy when he found out that I had decided to join the seminary instead of going to medical school, which he had spent a lot of time and effort trying to prepare me for.

Family-and-faith---350Yet, somehow, some way, things changed. I have been away from home for so many years as a result of my studies in the seminary and subsequent mission assignment overseas, so I never got to see how this came about. But I do know that it all happened after he got married and had his daughter. Just last week, he had his second child, a son which he gave the Vietnamese name of “Mừng” – not a particularly well-known or even masculine name in Vietnamese. But it is meaningful. The word means to be happy, glad and joyous. It’s also the second word in the Vietnamese version of the “Hail Mary” prayer (Kính Mừng Maria…). So his reason for naming his son “Mừng” is so that we will be reminded of his son whenever he prayed the “Hail Mary.”

I cannot say that it was having a family that caused a change in my brother’s faith and spirituality. I would need to have many more conversations with my brother to find out all the things that have been going on in his life. But I am sure that having a family is an important part of his commitment to faith.

For some, the experience of having a child is in many ways transcendental and overwhelmingly spiritual. To have “created” someone helps us to understand more deeply what it means to be a creation of God and to have longing for our eternal Father or Mother. Having a family, particularly children, therefore can facilitate our relationship and involvement in religion. Sociologists have discovered in Western countries that married people are more likely to attend Church than single people. A commitment to one’s family somehow entails a greater commitment to religion as well. It is no wonder that in many societies that are judged to becoming increasingly secularised, such as Western Europe (particularly Scandinavia), Australia, and New Zealand, birth rates are extremely low and continue to fall.

It is not my aim in this simple reflection to discuss secularisation theories or account for why religion is losing a foothold in certain societies. What is worth for us to consider is how much our family, or lack of family plays a role in our faith and spiritual life. Even though nowadays in light of present social and cultural conditions, it is not practical to have large families as in decades past, the refusal and lack of commitment to marriage and having children may very well bear out in personal religiosity as well as the spiritual condition of the entire society.

In many cultures and religions, having offspring is important because it signifies the passing on of traditions and beliefs from one generation to the next. It ensures posterity of the individual and the community. If marriage and having children are no longer values to be upheld and treasured, it is not surprising that faith also gets lost along the way because it is no longer something to be celebrated and passed on, but becomes privatised only to cease to exist with the person who passes on.

Fr Anthony Le Duc SVD