Skip to main content

We are family

At Acton University last month, I was able to listen to Dr. Samuel Gregg address Pope Benedict's response to the crisis in Europe.

What crisis, you ask?  We know that the European crisis is multi-dimensional, not the least of which is Europe's spiritual crisis.  Europe, for the most part, is now largely agnostic.  However, Dr. Gregg chose to focus on what he believes are the two greatest challenges facing Europe:  its economy and the demographics of most European countries.

Betcha didn't know:  no Western European country has a replacement birth rate.  1/2 of Europeans have no siblings.  1/4 of European households are single people.  Europeans are simply not having kids;  they are not able to sustain their aging populations.

Now, Dr. Gregg went on to note how this fact will impact Europe (and the world) economically.  However, I was taken by the fact that millions and millions of Europeans have no siblings, no cousins, no aunts and  uncles, no nieces and nephews.

That is horrifying to me.  I didn't grow up in a big family - just three sibs and me.  However, we had scores of cousins, some of whom lived just around the corner from us.  Aunts and uncles were constants in my life - surrogate parents, playmates, babysitters and co-conspirators.  I am blessed to have 23 nieces and nephews and 22 great nieces and nephews (and that number is subject to change at a blinding rate of speed!).  Having a large family means a lot, but first and foremost it means you are never lonely, and you never have to worry about what will happen in a crisis.  There is literally an army of people ready and willing to prop you up when necessary, kick you in the tush when you need it, and hold your hand when you need encouragement and consolation.  What would it be like to travel through this life without that?

Oh, I know many people will tell me that they have created their own "family":  a network of friends that work as a quasi-family unit.  However, you really only do that when you're an adult.  What would my life be like if Ken, Alan and Jamie hadn't taught me what life with boys was like?  If Aunt Frances and Uncle Frank were not silly counterparts to parents who didn't mind me dropping in unannounced at their home with a herd of college friends?  If I hadn't been able to practice being a mom by caring for my nieces and nephews?  It wouldn't be simply a radically different life, but a lonely and emptier life.

Unless you come from a terribly dysfunctional family, you will acknowledge how great a blessing extended family is.  Recognizing that there are literally millions of people in the world who will never know this blessing is not simply a sad fact, but a vision of a fundamentally warped version of what we now know as culture in the Western world.

If you want to read more from Dr. Gregg on this topic, go to http://www.acton.org/commentary/448_1968_old_europe_died.php

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Trying to "end run" God

If you're a football fan, you know what an end run is. From Merriam-Webster:
a football play in which the ballcarrier attempts to run wide around the end of the line We try to "end run" God a lot. I do. I figure I know better. I've got this - no need to worry the Big Guy about such a trivial thing.

Of course, it never works.

Like the puppy above, when we try and evade the tough obstacle (even though we KNOW we will eventually have to do it), we end up - well, off in the bushes.

But oh! How I wished my way worked. I'd love to take a flying leap and land smoothly and gracefully. People would be in awe, as if watching Simone Biles nail a balance beam routine that no one else would even attempt. I would shyly look down and blush - just lightly - and acknowledge (But humbly! Oh so humbly!) my achievement.

But no: I am the one pulling myself out of the bushes, scratches all over my legs and twigs in my hair. I'd hear that gentle but loving voice of God saying, &quo…

Crossing Guard

I saw you
today
as you guided
your little man across that busy street.

You were wearing some
big man boots
and
watching cars and lights.

Your little man had on
black sneakers and
a Mickey Mouse hat
that bounced
as he walked.

He wasn't watching nothing but
your big man boots
and
the white stripes of the crosswalk.

Just before
he got to the sidewalk again,
his step bounced a bit
- he hopped over
a spot where the asphalt broke.

You turned to look,
holding out a hand to
your little man.
Not rushed or angry,
just making sure
he got up
on that sidewalk.

Then you walked on,
in your big man boots,
face into a cold Michigan wind,
with the little man behind,
his hat bouncing.

Be Transfigured

From today's readings: 

Jesus took Peter, James, and his brother, John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them; his face shone like the and his clothes became white as light.

...we possess the prophetic message that is altogether reliable. You will do well to be attentive to it as to a lamp shining in a dark place until day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.

Today we celebrate the Transfiguration. For whatever reason, Jesus brought three of His disciples to Mount Tabor to witness this miracle. They weren't sure what they were seeing, but they knew enough to throw themselves to the ground in the presence of Almighty God. St. Peter (who never did anything halfway) excitedly declares that he will erect tents on the mountain as a way of memorializing the event. But Jesus tells him and the others that they are not to tell people what they witnessed - at least not yet.

In the second reading, the requirement to be quiet has bee…