Guest Columnist Families Need to be the Focus

Daniel Ibanez/CNA

As the president of a global family ministry heading to Rome for the World Meeting of Families, I want to share some critical thoughts about the well-being of families everywhere.

Allow me to state my firm conviction that the adventure of helping families pray worldwide is timely, necessary, and among the most valuable works of mercy and compassion undertaken anywhere on earth. Why?

It is timely because the massacre of innocents in our schools continues unabated. It is necessary because these serial mass murders do not take place in a vacuum. And finally, after each new assault on our innocent young people, and others, we hear the same frantic, loud, and angry pleas for action.

While people and politicians struggle to find a practical solution to this protracted national tragedy, everyone needs to search within their souls to find a spiritual path forward. I would suggest we begin with the family so we can provide them with the necessary hope of waking the nation up from this decades-long nightmare.

“The family that prays together stays together.” An Irish immigrant priest, Patrick Peyton {1909-1992}, pioneered this now familiar phrase that resonates with millions of families of all faiths on all continents. It captures and condenses in a few words the promise whose time, truth and relevance have now come full circle. It has been the honor and privilege of my lifetime to serve for 22 years with a team that continues Peyton’s work of building up the family around the world, especially through prayer.

At the World Meeting of Families in 2015 in Philadelphia, good Pope Francis called the family God’s “Masterpiece.”  In Father Peyton’s heart, the family was the greatest treasure on earth. It is where life, purpose, meaning, value, and all human relationships are born, nourished, and cherished in love. The World Meeting of Families is taking place in Rome this last week of June with a focus on the family as the fundamental building block of civil society and the Church.

To rebuild a healthy civil society, family by family, we need the active engagement of churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, and the friendship of all people of good will. Believers can take heart from Alfred Lord Tennyson’s {1809-1892} oft repeated wise counsel, “More things are wrought by prayer than this world dreams of.” With respect for non-believers, we include them in our heartfelt concern since they too love their families and embrace the good that family ties create and sustain. 

The struggle to build a beloved community, family by family, will take decades of men, women and children growing together in love, unity, and peace. Our world needs twenty-first century heroes to pray daily and devoutly as families for families. Doing so will help unleash for the struggle the most powerful force in heaven or on earth. The family, strengthened by prayer, offers the best hope, the only true and sustainable path, out of the present morass of violence and hopelessness. Prayer humbles the human heart, opens the spirit to the fundamental truth that all people without distinction are members of the earliest and most inclusive family of all, the human family. 

And, finally, prayer never knows defeat!

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