There are many definitions of family. I think we are all familiar with the traditional understanding of family as defined as a father, mother, child/children (nuclear family) and expanding to the human family. Different times and different cultures have varied definitions—sometimes including quite broad definitions.
We also speak of the family of God, the family of the Church, religious community—which is based on the family model, the Mystical Body of Christ—all as brothers and sisters, family of nations, neighborhood family, family of friends, etc. Today there is an emerging definition of family: a group of people held together by bonds of love and affection.
However one understands family, from its traditional to its broad-based definition, it is important in each one of our lives. In reality, many of us are members of a number of families. This is a very important concept for indeed, as humans, we are not islands unto ourselves. We are social beings, human beings, spiritual beings needing to give and receive love and understanding.
Mother Theresa of Calcutta said the poverty of the West is loneliness. That is indeed something to contemplate. Are we being called to reach out to others? Are we being called to more fully participate and build family?
Sister Jeanne Ann Weber
Sister Jeanne Ann Weber is Director of Liturgy. She has experience as a teacher, advocate for women and children, giving retreats and spiritual direction. She is a member of the Shalom Spiritual Direction Training Program at the Monastery.