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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Family Interaction in Faith

This is what Jesus had to say concerning family ties:
“Whoever loves father and mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son and daughter more than me is not worthy of me.”
We can read Jesus statement in the context of our endurance for sorrow. Would we turn against God if something happened to our loved ones? If instead we would ask for help, maybe we would feel less alone. 
I can almost hear the answer I would have given a few years ago to what I’ve just said: How could an abstract entity help us face the pain? Why should we fool ourselves with heavenly tales? But today I suggest that we try to ask for inner strength. I don’t know how it happens, but we’ll become stronger.                                                                  
As I’ve said before, my father lost all his possessions because of wrong investments in Yemen. It was very difficult for my mom to adapt to the new situation, and she was never able to renounce all her habits. I couldn’t help but finding her a little immature, although she had a big heart and was a good mother. She was the only one in my family who was professing religion, and this is one of the reasons why I never took it seriously. Even as a teen-ager, I thought that if my mother believed in the gospels, they were probably fairy tales.

My father, on the other hand, never spoke about faith. He used to accompany my mom to mass every 

Sunday, but he never ventured inside the church. Instead, he waited for her at the café’ across the street. 

We children were definitely getting mixed signals. At any rate, we were the rebellious type, and I’m sure that 

if both our parents had tried to talk us into  going to church we would have refused flatly. But later in life, 

both my brother and my sister became devout Christians. I started wondering if I was the only one left in the 

family who wasn’t religious, so one day I asked my dad if he believed in God.

"Absolutely", was his laconic reply. He never said another word about it.

Now I wonder how my son sees my sudden interest in Jesus. I’m afraid that I’m not a better role model to 
him than my mother was to me, although for different reasons. Some time ago he said to me:
“You didn’t know how to live. Religion is for people like you, who can’t cope with life.”
“You’re right,” I answered, “I couldn’t take a hold of my life. But this should make you understand how 
powerful the encounter with Jesus has been for me. I hated myself because your father and I were making 
you suffer, yet I was unable to change our interaction for years. Now you can see that I’m different.”

I suspect that today he understands that being good is a pattern among Christians. He fell for a catholic girl!


Manny said...

My father never went inside a church either. I have this theory that Italian men reject religion for most of their lives and then become super religious late in life. There is this character from Nostromo, a novel by Joseph Conrad, who says something like, "religion is for women and children" but a real man knows better. Here's a passage:

"The old republican did not believe in saints, or in prayers, or in what he called "priest's religion." Liberty and Garibaldi were his divinities; but he tolerated "superstition" in women, preserving in these matters a lofty and silent attitude."

Here's the novel in e-text:

If you can read that chapter and chapter 4 if you have the time, you might enjoy it. Much later in the novel that old man as he ages even further becomes a super religious character. It's a great novel, by the way. Garibaldi I think had a huge impact on the nature of Italian manhood. It has forever shaped the way I think of Italian men. That's my theory.

Antonella said...

Thank you Manny. I think you're right about Italian men and faith. Even a priest at my parish told me that the Italian men parishioners don't go to church!