Local News Archive
Print Issue: January 3, 1980
Soundings, The Year Of The Family - 1980
By Monsignor Noel C. Burtenshaw
(EDITORS NOTE: This is the first in a six-part series on the Year of the Family. Next weeks article: The Young Family, will be written by Mr. And Mrs. Patrick Golden of Saint Thomas Aquinas Parish in Alpharetta.)
It was too many years ago. But I can remember it well. My mother would order my brother and myself to accompany her on Sunday evenings, as she visited her sister. The visit would take us to the other side of town.
When we arrived at the home of my aunt, we might well find her not at home. No panic. We merely strolled back home window shopping as we walked, dreaming our simple dreams.
If we found the good woman at home, then the adults would cozily sit for the evening, a large pot of tea could be provided and the chat would begin.
They would talk for hours non-stop. They talked about everything and in fact, they talked about nothing. Without reference to us, yawning in a remote corner, they talked. All too soon, the evening had ended, it was time to run for the final bus and the intense communication was over.
In reality thats what they brilliantly established. The most binding, the most productive communications possible. They did it without effort. They did it without even knowing it.
You say to me, That was a long time ago. Well do I know. Times and styles were slower. There was no instant jetting across the world. Television was a new and tentative experiment. Space travel was still a comic book experience. There were no microwaves, no instant replays, no H-bombs and no credit cards. Times and styles were slower.
Now, the pace has quickened. Look at the changes in a mere 30-year period. We have walked on the moon, we circle the earth in hours, we have instant meals in the home. Everything is flying fast. We can bank instantly, buy instantly, borrow instantly. Everything is immediate, everything is right now, except that 30 year old confrontation. Human relationships work at that long ago same speed.
That human interchange we desperately seek still takes time. It takes long evenings of conversation and appreciation to get to know, to accept and then to love, someone else.
It takes time. We hate that thought. It simply takes time. Time, that we dont give.
Dont write a letter, says the telephone company. Reach Out. It only costs a buck and a half to call long distance on weekends for three minutes. So, we communicate for three minute intervals, acting like programmed computers.
So, you do your knowing quick. You do your loving quick. You have the kids but never, ever let them stand in the way of a profession or a business week. Someone else raises the child. The school educates him, the Church religionizes him and in the process everybody passes everybody else in the driveway. Then we stand back and wonder why three out of every four marriages end broken up on the junk heap of divorce.
Family life today is on a schedule. We operate marriage and home on a time clock. They get the same time and care apportioned the everyday business schedule. The only problem, the one and only snag is that marriage and family life wont accept our schedule. It can exist only if given your time consuming life. Here are the terms it offers.
I come first or not at all.
It will not be fed into the business end of a computer program. Never.
As we enter the year of 1980, named by the bishops of the United States as the Year of the Family, we must assess the state of our own family life and the values we are passing along to the next generation.
This nation of ours has already decided that the contract of marriage is a valueless meaningless piece of paper. Do we agree with that?
This nation has further decided that pregnancy is a female phenomenon, which a woman may joyfully accept or distastefully reject at will. A baby is born if she accepts. A terminated fetus occurs if she rejects it. Do we fully understand that situation?
This nation has also decided that the equality of husband and wife means that productivity in the marketplace comes before the human and emotional good of home and children (didnt Karl Marx expound likewise?) Do we accept that sociological doctrine.
We talk a big game about home and family life but we allow this society, which works us like commune farmers in China and legally murders children in the womb, to dictate how we communicate the everlasting virtue of love in our homes. We let our society do it and in return we receive pieces of silver and promises of power. Then we pass those values on to the new generation.
It is little wonder that so often they choose the non-commitment life that merely says they share the rent.
Those long evenings of conversations of our past, without TV and without a plane to catch next morning to sell toothpaste in Montgomery, had value. They allowed that interchange of warm humanness to take place, to sink deep, become love affairs of long lasting value, to become homes standing firmly never to be broken.
The Year of the Family calls us back to values we have dropped and calls us from the madness we are practicing. That slow process, the school house where we learn to know and to love must come first or we are going to be losers forever.
The best spiritual advice was can take from the advent of this year of hope is, remember
It takes time. Resolve to give your home, that time in this coming Year of the Family.