Column: Family life calls us to the corporal works every single day

by Jacki Corrigan 

It is in family life that we first experience love; it is the first school of love. It is where words such as God, faith, truth, respect, honor, and dignity are rooted and lovingly nourished.

With four children under three, the words hectic, tired and “Oh no, not again,” were often part of my vocabulary.

There is an intrinsic holiness that permeates family when God is present in the ebb and flow of family life. Holiness is not always obvious to the eye of visitors, but it is there. It is the sacred in the ordinary. A visitor does not always recognize that a mother has been up all night with a sick child, or a father has come home after a hectic day at work and responded to a child’s plea to shoot some hoops together. A friendly neighbor does not see the sparkling bathroom floor created by a mother mopping up the splashed water from a child’s bath. Nor can a mother’s mind calculate how many peanut butter and jelly sandwiches have been made for hungry little ones. The work is endless and unnoticed, but it is holy because it is a laying down of one’s self for the sake of another. It is a putting aside one’s needs and wants to care for another.

Recently, my friend Marlene told about visiting an older neighbor when her children were young and noticing a rocking chair just like hers. The neighbor’s chair was in mint condition and the wood had a sheen that reflected gentle care. Marlene shared with the neighbor that she had a rocker just like hers. But she added that, unfortunately, hers was not as beautiful because it had seen sticky peanut butter fingers once too often. The neighbor then replied, “You, indeed, have the most beautiful rocker of all.”

It is often hard in the midst of the chaos of family life to see the beauty that is swirling around us. Yet, it is in family life that our sight is more than 20/20 because we are able to see with the eyes of our heart. It is here that we meet Christ on a daily basis as we feed the hungry, care for the sick, clothe the naked, give drink to the thirsty, counsel the doubtful, bear wrongs patiently, and forgive offenses willingly.

“To maintain a joyful family requires much from both the parents and the children. Each member of the family has to become, in a special way, the servant of the others.”

— Pope John Paul II

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