Core decorum: families

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Illustration courtesy of Cecilia Lang

Undoubtedly, this time of the COVID-19 quarantine has introduced many changes to our lives. For many of us, one of the chief changes includes much more time spent home with our families. 

We must see this extra time with our families as a blessing. 

As most of us have probably realized, no one quite knows our flaws as well as our families do. 

Therefore, it is often easier for us to lose our patience with our families than with others. 

But, while family life has the potential to bring out the worst in us, it also has the potential to bring out our highest virtues. 

One of the most beloved stories in recent times, Little Women, illustrates this claim well. 

In the 2019 movie adaptation of the story, Jo March remarks (upon the subject of writing about her  family’s story): “Well, who will be interested in a story of domestic struggles and joys? It doesn’t have any real importance, does it?” 

These lines, of course, are a wink and a nod to the audience. It is ironic because while the movie focuses on domestic highs and lows, it does not belittle  them. 

The domestic life of the March family formed  the March sisters’ character and prepared them for the events that took place outside of their home life. Because the sisters had acquired certain virtues within their family life, such as forgiveness and service, the hardships they encountered as adults did not destroy them.  

St. Pope John Paul II repeatedly emphasized how important the family is for virtue, and he taught  that the family is not just a microcosm of society—it is society.  He said, “As the family goes, so goes the nation and so goes the whole world in which we live.” 

It is of the utmost importance that we approach domestic life seriously for ourselves and for our world because, as Mother Teresa said, “if we want to change the world, we should go home and love [our] family.”

Let us take this opportunity of quarantine to reevaluate both our attitude and behavior towards our families. Let us remember that Christ Himself spent thirty years in domestic life, so may we ask the Holy Family for special guidance during this time. 

Lastly, may we remember the famous first sentence of Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina, “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

Thus, the state of our families determines whether we will be united with each other, or further divided. 

At a time of so much division in the world, let the love we have for our families be what unites us.

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