Throughout the document, the Pope addresses issues demanding attention from both the Church and Catholic families. The connection between Church and family stood out to me, as Pope Francis frequently described the family as the domestic Church. Although the Church is an important part of my life, it was at home where I first learned about the faith.
I spend an hour a week at church, but a much bigger chunk of my time is spent at home with my family. I think the Pope makes constant reference to the family as a domestic Church because he wants to challenge us to make our families just as holy as the Church.
Within my parish, I have served the community as an altar server, reader and now a eucharistic minister. But what am I doing to serve those within my domestic Church?
As a son, I need to consider my role in the relationship with my parents. Pope Francis speaks of this relationship between parents and child where the role of the parents is to help the child grow and the role of the child is to honour and respect the parents.
There are numerous times that I do not agree with my parents, probably because of the generation gap. However, I still try my best to show them respect, even when we have disagreements. It is important for me to never forget all the sacrifices they have made to get me where I am today.
The same applies for my role as a grandson. The Pope mentions the importance of respecting grandparents and taking time to listen to them. Listening is the ultimate sign of respect. It shows that you value what the person has to say. I think that as a grandson, it is my responsibility to make my grandparents feel appreciated and valued.
In his letter, the Pope also mentions the importance of relationships with siblings. As an older brother, I think I have a similar responsibility as my parents. I need to be a good example to my younger sister and help her grow into a responsible adult. Leading by example, I need to live a good Catholic lifestyle and be there to support her when she needs advice.
I am fortunate to have been brought up in a strong domestic Church, with daily family prayer. Being a minister in my parish is important, but before I am a minister, I am a son, grandson and brother.
I think that being a Catholic requires more than just an hour of Mass a week. We need to be worshipping God each and every day within our families.
Through prayer, we must ask God what He wants from us as siblings, parents and children. I believe that if we all focus on our role within the domestic Church, the peace and love in our families will spread to our parish and the rest of society.
(Vaz, 19, is a first-year accounting and financial management student at University of Waterloo.)