Check in: Kathy Schmugge reports on love, forgiveness and healing in the family

PHILADELPHIA—The homily for Thursday’s (Sept. 24) Mass was given by a cardinal from South Korea. He referred to the family as the small church and how there is an urgent call for pastoral intervention for the family today.  He called each member of the family to “seek the truth that sets you free” and not let selfishness get in the way.

“Try to form a holy family, where the members pray together and do what Jesus wants.  Read God’s Word but read it from the heart,” he said.

The morning keynote was titled, “ A Gift from God:The Meaning of Human Sexuality, “ with Dr. Juan Francisco de la Guardia Brin and Gabriela N. de la Guardia. This couple showed how from the beginning of time, illustrated by scripture that God formed the people with His breath and infused His Spirit within them.

They said that for a specific reason He created the human race, male and female. There are differences that will last into eternal life Mrs. de la Guardia explained. “We have biological difference and physiological differences.”

She also pointed out that we are not to be exploited, but appreciated. “When are we going to stop stepping and stomping on our sexuality,” she said.

“Love is different than seeking pleasure and feelings,” said Dr. de la Guardia. “It is the responsibility of the parents and the church to transmit the great worth of the human person and that sexuality is an expression of love and a gift from God.”

When the couple spoke of marriage, they gave advice. “Married couples don’t just live for one another, they live for Christ, spousal unity for Christ,” said Dr. de la Guardia. “Marriage has an institutional dimension and has an important place in society-it needs to be protected.”

He warned that sometimes cell phones are more important than our families and because of that, need to work on building strong relationships.”

Society needs the family, solid and happy families for the world to see,” he said. “This can only be possible according to the couple, if parents are good Christians who are apostles.”

One of the breakout sessions was “Home Improvement: Forgiveness and Family Life” with  Dr. Daniel Mark. He gave a theological and biblical perspective on forgiveness in the family saying  we must seek and offer both mercy and forgiveness.

He explained that mercy can be hard when one is seeking justice for a wrong. It takes humility to accept forgiveness and to ask for it.

“We have to recognized we were in the wrong, let go of our anger and hurt when we want to hold a grudge,” Dr. Mark said.

He also suggested that before we offer forgiveness that we should also apologize for what we might have done to cause the break in the relationship. He said it was like Christ dying for our sins and he was completely innocent. Families don’t need superficial relationships but relationships based on truth.  We must tell the truth even if it causes friction and with the love it requires and must love to hear the truth.

He explained that  the home “should be the place of hard truth.”  “We should love one another enough to tell them the truth.  And love them enough to accept the truth of ourselves,“ Dr. Mark said.

Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle spoke on “The Family: A Home for the Wounded Heart” as the second keynote. He opened by disucssing how so many family arguments often place things over people.

“Family is a place to heal the wounded heart. The wound may come from the family but the family can also be the place of healing the wounds,” he said.

He gave a long list of things that cause woundedness such as financial constraints, unemployment, little access to human needs, lack of education, policies that don’t support family, failed relationships, infidelity, social and economic exclusion, human trafficking, child abuse, domestic violence, abuse of women, wars, ethnic conflicts to name few but acknowledging the list is longer.

The cardinal urged people to open their eyes and see the wounds and the cause. Wounds make the family vulnerable to exploitation, evil, sin, and other destructive things.

He said that they way we should look at those who are hurting is, “the wounded is mine and if they can’t come home, I will carry them home.”

Jesus doesn’t just heal the symptoms of our wounds, Cardinal Tagle said, He saves us in our wounds and vulnerability. The resurrected Christ still had his wounds from the Crucifixion.

“Being the body of Christ, the Church shares in Jesus’s mission by proclaiming the kingdom of God by healing and compassion.”

“When one member suffers all suffer, when one member is honored all share in that joy,” he said adding that all healing comes from God.

Kathy Schmugge is the director of the Office of Family Life for the Diocese of Charleston.