Among the Families
We all belong to a great big family of God in which each family is a unique artwork of love. At a time of crisis of life-long fidelity among the couples, as that of ours, to accompany them along with their children to support, sustain and encourage them in their journey of love is not only a beautiful service but a necessary cure to all forms of threats that endanger genuine human relationships.
I am grateful to God for granting me the grace to spend a week with a group of families that had gathered together with Sr. Agnese Quadrio for their summer week of fraternity and formation, which is part of a program to help and sustain each other in their vocation to be christian families in the Church, in service to the brethren. This year the program was held in “Casa Alpina Maria Nivis” in Torgnon, Valle d’Aosta for two weeks, for two different groups. I had participated in the second week from 12th -19th August 2018; there were around 84 participants including a priest from the Diocese of Lodi, don Carlo, 7 animators and two sisters.
The whole group was divided into groups: the children above 10 years, called “marchers”, had to follow the itinerary of St. Francis; children between 7 to 10 years were guided to explore, to know and learn values for life through games, cartoon movie etc. Very small children were taken care by their animators so as to leave the adults free to listen to the input sessions given by Sr. Agnese Quadrio, titled as ‘L’arte di ricominciare’ (the art of beginning again) based on the six days of creation.
Spending a week together in holidays is an intense and unique experience: a great gift of beauty and depth that overwhelms and transforms. It is like receiving an unexpected embrace that opens and fills the heart with joy; a time where one can experience true fraternity and unity without walls or prejudices. One understands what is the true desire of a human person: to live in order to love and feel loved and be the ‘unique one’ in the eyes of God.
This experience opens us to listening and welcoming the other: we learn that we are part of a greater family; we discover that the Lord, our Father, offers us opportunity to mature and to go out of ourselves and that life is to be lived in fullness, above all, for the neighbour.
It is a continual growing in the awareness of the great gift, the life.
Another summer is here; in the courtyard of the house that hosts us I recognise known faces as well as new ones yet to be discovered. We shall live a week of holidays and formation with other families, a network that has been formed since many years and still continues, journying together, growing… because togethe, it sustains us; because together, everything is easier.
I acknowledge a great value in the diversity and in the capacity of accepting each other as we are, at the point in which we find ourselves. This experience confirms to me that God encounters us in the person whom he places on our journey: it is always through a relationship of friendship that the desire to start comes.
It is a time found once again for sharing and games with our children, an experience that speaks to them more than thousand words.
Marzia and Renzo
For our family, numerous and a bit “battered” by many challenges that an entire year brings with it, the experience of Torgnon was a returning to the fount to quench oneself with pure water, necessary for our life. The same water that Christ offered to the Samaritan, we have refound in the Word that has accompanied us in these days, in the beautiful encounters with many families, in the gesture of sharing and service, that has given a fuller meaning to our being together.
I and My husband had a strong need of beginning again, of returning to the origin (of our love, of our family and, even of our faith); we had even doubts about the possibility of living serenely the experience, combining it with the special needs of our children (of the four, two are deaf and dumb), but it all became a possibility surely because of the confidence in the invitation of Chiara, sr. Agnese and Alfredo, which we had taken it as an invitation of Jesus himself.
‘L’arte di ricominciare’ (the art of beginning again) is exactly the one which each of us have to take up continually in our life. Thinking of my experience as a mother “full time”, I see in my children the main principles of this teaching, because, in living with them and for them, my weaknesses, woundedness, and also my greater aspirations and thirst, indeed a greater thirst, to live everything in Christ emerge in me.
We could even live moments of obscurity and loneliness, but there is nothing in our life that cannot be filled, healed, transformed by the mercy of our Lord for us.
This week was really important for me to set the priority right as a couple, for it to be the foundation to important future choices that awaits our family, to return to build a dialogue that is more serene and more mature in love; it was a time, that for us as individuals and as a couple and as well as a family, has certainly been fruitful.
Grateful to the Lord for the gift of this time of grace among the mountains of Val d’Aosta, we carry in our heart what we have listened and lived, together with the persons who have fraternally welcomed and accompanied us, with a firm intention of continuing to walk together, as true brothers and sisters in faith.
We have lived, in a natural environment whose beauty and tranquility was a reason to thank God spontaneously, a week that was lively and intense, never boring. During this time we have refound the center of our life, attracted by the tangible love of the Father and the deep communion formed among us.
Among all, this is the good news: God wills our joy, and in order to be able to taste it to the full, the only authentic way is that of allowing ourselves to be guided by the Word, letting it concretely sink into the daily experience of being children, spouses and parents. And to savor this joy, we should not allow ourselves to be intoxitated by excess; the awareness of measure is needed and the limit or the boundary should become our freedom.
It was a serene week in its spirit, of true joy, experienced and found in each person encountered, in sharing, always free, in prayer and in Mass, the daily desired appointment. It was indeed a week capable of warming our faith, at times tepid.
Flavio and Clara
Not only the holidays together with the families have enriched me, but to see the couples getting into discussions, seeking clarifications, spending time in reflection and prayer after the input session has touched me because it was for me a sign of their commitment to life, to their family and to God himself. as Pope Francis affirms: “… they were an eloquent sign of the beauty of God’s dream for the whole human family.” These families that had made a choice for this sort of vacation,- where they had to make space for every other family with its uniquess and differences – according to me are truly participating in the dream of God for “unity, harmony, and peace in families and in the world” in order “to make the world a home where no one is alone, no one is unwanted, no one is excluded.”
In a context where the family is being threatened by infidelity, violence leading to breakdown, these initiatives though at times may seem as a drop in the ocean yet they are so precious as Mother Teresa once said: “We ourselves feel that what we are doing is just a drop in the ocean. But the ocean would be less because of that missing drop”. The enthusiastic and persistant response of these few families to such labour of love heralds a sure sign of hope that God is still working silently to establish his reign of love.
Sr. Angeline Chinnappadason