No perfect families


I am now in Chazy, New York, visiting with my brother and his family. I had not planned to visit them this year but when Jun signed us up for the IFYE world conference aboard a cruise from Vancouver to Anchorage, Alaska, we decided to proceed here for a short visit. Jun returned to Manila yesterday as this week is the observance of National Urban Pest Control Week. I will share about our cruise adventures in another column.

Families are indeed a blessing. In them we experience a wealth of experiences. We share joys, difficulties, sorrows, challenges, and happiness. There are good days. And there are the not-so-good days.

Last July 19 Pope Francis’s speech during a retreat focused on family and forgiveness. I would like to share with you his beautiful thoughts about the family and children.

“There is no perfect family. We do not have perfect parents, we are not perfect, we do not marry a perfect person or have perfect children. We have complaints from each other. We disappoint each other.

“So there is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes an arena of conflict and a stronghold of hurt. Without forgiveness, the family becomes ill.

“Forgiveness is the asepsis of the soul, the cleansing of the mind and the liberation of the heart. Whoever does not forgive does not have peace in the soul nor communion with God.

“Hurt is poison that intoxicates and kills. Keeping heartache in the heart is a self-destructive gesture. It’s autophagy. Those who do not forgive are physically, emotionally and spiritually ill.

“Parents are the children’s source of life. They are there to protect their sons and daughters and not to compete with them.

“That is why the family must be a place of life, not of death, a territory of cure and not of illness, a stage of forgiveness and not guilt. Forgiveness brings joy where sorrow has produced sadness, and healing, where sorrow has caused disease.”

Visiting my USA family provides me the blessing of touching my roots, of marveling at the babies who have grown up into “personalities” during my absence, and of reviving friendships with extended families.

Our family is not perfect, but we are rooted in the same values and connect with each other, whether near or far away. Even though I am here in Chazy for only a short period of time, I am enjoying and treasuring every moment.