Sometimes when I look back to my childhood I remember that there was certainly a type of religious practice at home. Attend Mass on Saturday evening or Sunday was a common practice for us, as well as to celebrate key dates such as Christmas or Easter. And it’s also true that my parents decided to give me, my brother and sisters education in a religious schools. At home, I also remember that receiving First Communion was a great event, which was very awaited by us and it was very celebrated by all the family. Of course, it was a great celebration from a social point of view and not so much from a spiritual point of view. Receive God for the first time through the Holy Communion wasn’t the important thing, the ‘after party’ was the most important thing for us. Even now I remember with pleasure and certain nostalgia some afternoons spent in the parish with other neighborhood children. There, the priests, use to organize Saturday afternoon film sessions where we used to watch black and white old movies, from the ‘Zorro’ and ‘Westerns’. I also remember some Saturday excursions around our town with ‘Padre Alberto’ (Father Alberto, I think this was his name). So far nothing different from what was usual in many of the families around us at that time in Spain.
During our Elementary School (until 14 or 15 years) our child spirituality used to be consistent with the routine practice established by the education we received in our respective schools and in the regular weekly practice imposed by our parents. But as we got older situation changed completely. I could not place exactly the moment when the abandonment of religious practice and our distancing from the Church began at home. Now, through the perspective of the years, I usually think about it and I wonder why. I suppose it must have been the consequence of the confluence of many factors starting at High School: puberty and later adolescence with all that these phases imply; birth to sexuality when we use to had fun in summer groups of boys and girls; the happy discovery of the attractive freedom and the the youth rebelliousness; our parents always very busy, working at the office in the case of my father and at home in the case of my mother, etc. I don’t know. I suppose as I mentioned before that it was a combination of many factors. But I must recognize that there is one thing that I have no doubt and on which I usually think a lot: I don’t want in any case that all I’ve explained to be interpreted as a reproach to my parents and much less to my Lord, who have given me everything I am just now. But to be honest, all those years I think God was not at home.
Obviously God is omnipresent and was always at our side, now I’ve realized it. But when I say that “God was not at home” I mean that we never had the conscience or the certainty that he was another member of the family. I think we were not able to recognize him by our side. My parents never used to talk about God at home, we did not talk about God among ourselves or with our parents. God wasn’t a part of our lives, our games, our fights, our works… For us God was someone who was ‘living’ in a parish that we used to visit some Sundays and normally for us was an insufferable obligation. A few years later, not even that. We use to have God out of home, He did not interest us at all. There were many things in our lives that were more interesting and supposedly more important than Him. At home the Faith, the Holy Scripture and the important value of Prayer were never transmitted. When I reached the age of majority, at least in my case (I don’t know about my brothers) God vanished… Although, to be fair, I should say that was me who separated Him from my side.
Today, with some envy, I can see this among my ‘brothers’ in Emmaus. Some of them belong to families where there was, and there is actually, a special care and interest to transmit the Faith from parents to children. These are families where children learned that God is one more at home, one more member of the family, a person to trust fully. Families where they usually talk among them about God, Jesus or the Holy Virgin Mary because they consider all of them active part of their lives and participate in their lives as one more member of the family. Today those ‘brothers’ also transmit the same to their own children.
In my family unfortunately this was lost and today, that I have my own family, I regret many times for not having been able to transmit to my children (now adults) the Faith and have made them understand that God was one more member of the family. Now I’m trying to do it, and who knows, may be I still have time to get it. It’s not to late.
And all this happened in those years where there was no Internet, no smartphones, no computers, no video games, no audiovisual platforms and for example in my country there were only two television channels. Imagine how complicated can be today for the parents to transmit children the Faith and the presence of God at home if we consider how easy is the access we have all family members to all these information technologies and the millions of attractive and addictive ‘inputs’ they generate. We must realize that if we leave God outside of our family, all kind of false idols will come into our Home able to to disunite, destroy and dehumanize it. Then is when we will feel more lost, more abandoned and more alone than ever, despite believing that we have everything. Today the struggle to keep God alive and present in our Home is titanic. We should not fail and we should get used to tell every day to the Lord: “Please, enter in our lives again and be part of them! We need you! Let your Holy Spirit fill our home!”.
«These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates». (Deuteronomy 6: 6-9)