The secret of unity

Challenges and resources of the family today. The international Congress of the New Families Secretariat

foto segreterie 2016The family is the container of every sorrow and the privileged place where we can learn to share suffering and give it a meaning. This reflection emerges during the four days at Castel Gandolfo, Rome (3-6 November 2016), where leaders of New Families from various zones of Europe and some countries from other continents, such as Paraguay, Taiwan, the Philippines and Lebanon, tried to deepen in knowledge of some subjects of particular importance for the family in the world today, looking at “Jesus Forsaken:  the root of unity in the joy of the Resurrected”, as the title of the conference indicated.

Today there is a refusal of suffering, we try to avoid it instead of sharing it, but in reality, this makes us even weaker.  Marco and Antonella at the end of May, after a few signs connected to stress, one afternoon took their daughter to emergency to get rid of any doubt about her health.  The cat scan, on the contrary, confirms the presence of a very serious problem.  “This cross was too heavy for me and it was suffocating me”, explains the mother who looked for a way out, opening up to the family and to her dearest friends.  In this way she discovers that “that suffering becomes an opportunity for a strong experience of unity with everybody,  it changes our life”.

Sharing is of a fundamental importance because it allows us to see the difficulties we can encounter in the right perspective and it helps us to give a meaning to suffering, enabling us to elaborate it. Luigi and Raffaella, who are now heads of a group of families, remember those years after their wedding as not being easy at all and how, joining a group of young families, they felt supported.

foto segreterie 2016_1“Being part of a network is the new frontier of the family to solve so many crises which are often caused by the consequences of the individualistic culture and by the lack of communication”, state Letizia and Michele De Beni, but “we need preparation, the art of accompanying families in difficult situations”.  At this time New Families is looking for new instruments and methods to offer to the heads of family groups, so that they may improve their capability of staying close to couples in difficulty, just by accompanying them.

Furthermore, for several years we’ve been proposing the initiative for couples living in situations of crisis:  the “Tracts of Light” (Percorsi di Luce), which are held periodically at Loppiano. We took stock of this initiative during the Congress, underlining the methods which include psychology and spirituality and the main characteristic: reciprocal love among the group heads, participants and experts.  We found out that this helps everybody to get fully involved.

Very often it’s poverty that causes strenuous challenge to families. Lack of work or very precarious jobs affect life and relationships.  In this situation the necessity of supporting one another in a perspective of brotherhood cannot absolutely be avoided.  For this reason initiatives and projects to keep the culture of giving alive spread all over.  Some families organize gathering of goods for those who are most in need, others feel the need to live with fewer material things: “many times we’ve opened our wardrobes and decided that everything we hadn’t used for a while should be given to someone who needed it more than us”.

In front of the small and big challenges that we encounter every day in the life of the families and would tempt us to give up, we can find the courage to keep going ahead, recognizing “ the very same powerlessness of Jesus on the Cross, His failure, His solitude.  Often when we live suffering in this way it becomes fruitful”.

In fact, concluding with Pope Francis’ words, “If the family manages to centre itself in Christ, He unifies and enlightens the whole family life.  Pains and problems are experienced in communion with the Cross of the Lord…which transforms difficulties and sufferings in an offer of love” (Amoris Laetitia 137).

Another title on which we worked during the meeting concerns the project “Chiara and the family”,  that is deepening our understanding of the contribution that Chiara Lubich’s charism has given to the world of the family and that will be developed during the whole year of 2016-2017.
Giovanna Pieroni