A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

Extending Our Families

Posted on: February 10, 2014

Like Isaac, we may be born into one. Like Ruth, we may join one through marriage. Like David and Jonathan, we may find one in our close friends. A family is something we all long for—a circle of people where we belong.

Recently I read this quote from Blessed Adolph Kolping:

The first thing that a person finds in life and the last to which he holds out his hand, and the most precious that he possess, even if he does not realize it, is family life.

~ quoted in “Celebrate February 2014,” Catholic Digest, January/February 2014

Growing up with a father in the military, I didn’t always live near my extended family. My husband and I spent over a decade living several hours’ drive from my parents, and we still live a long plane ride away from his. I know that, these days, many of us live far from our families. And many have left family in one country to pursue opportunities in another, just as our immigrant ancestors did.

For those of us able to maintain a sense of family (maybe with the help of e-mail, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime, or long-distance calling plans), we may be able to bless those who aren’t so fortunate:

  • By fostering or adopting a child through the Children’s Aid Society or volunteering with the CAS to bless the children in care.
  • By volunteering with an organization like the Catholic Immigration Centre of Ottawa to bless newcomers who need help adjusting to a new country, a new culture and maybe even a new language.
  • By serving as a friendly visitor at a retirement residence such as St. Patrick’s Home to bless those whose families seldom visit.
  • By helping at a facility such as Ronald McDonald House to provide a home-cooked meal, blessing those away from home while their child receives hospital care.
  • By organizing a meal during a holiday weekend (when campus services may be unavailable) to bless international students, or even by hosting a student for the school year.
  • By helping with chores such as snow shovelling or lawn care or just regular check-ins to bless an elderly neighbour with no family close by.

I pray that our lives would reflect the sentiments of this prayer: “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, like you we are members of the Father’s family. We pray that our family love may reflect his love on its openness to all people” (“Celebrate February 2014”).

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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