This past week, I heard that the son of a classmate of mine suddenly died of what seems to be a drug overdose. The family, as you may imagine, is devastated. His aunt came to visit me shortly after the funeral and it was so obvious how much pain and suffering her family was going through.
Unfortunately, today there are many people in our society waiting to pretend to love your child. These people will only abuse your child emotionally, physically and sexually. They offer him/her drugs that they promise will take away all their pains.
There are so many families in our midst that have lost children to drugs. I know of five young people in their 20s who have died of overdoses this year alone. They are grandchildren and children of people who I went to school with. I cannot completely understand the pain that they are going through in the loss of their children. No one should have to bury their child. How do we reach these young ones before they even get involved? How do we support the families that are going through this?
St. Teresa once wrote about families saying, "Many of the troubles of modern society are caused by broken families." She went on to say that parents are too busy and children need to be loved, accepted and praised. Children are getting lost. She further stated that if we don't pay attention to our children, there are others who are willing to show them love - the kind of love that will lead them to destruction, false hope and hatred.
What can our parishes in the Diocese of Buffalo do for families? How can we equip our families with the tools they need to show Christ's love and mercy? I think one thing our parishes can do is to gather a few married couples and a few single parents and youth regularly to observe, reflect and pray for the families in the parish.
What are the realities of the families we are called to serve? What are their needs physically, emotionally and spiritually? How do we address them as church? What types of families do we have? How are we ministering to their needs and the needs their children?
Have them read the Pope Francis' "The Joy of Love" and use one of the various study guides that have been prepared.
Observing, reflecting and praying can open our eyes to new ways of reaching out to all families in a loving and compassionate way. The Holy Spirit will guide us toward new ways of reaching families to bring them the Good News of Jesus.
We need to go out and find the lost child, and also the lost parents. With faith, hope and love, we can bring all these lost children home.But we must meet them where they are. We can offer opportunities for retreats for parents and for parents and children. We can give them the skills to communicate better in order to foster mutual respect. We can offer opportunities to be listened to. Parents will be healed, children will be healed, and we will have more families united in faith and love, the family of God.