“Families are here to be dwelling places for the raising of saints…” – a Friend of Medjugorje
“To really experience family life and to really feel love, to know that you are with the people that are closest to your heart every single day, all day long …I couldn’t imagine experiencing family life not being here.” – Annette, Wife of a Friend of Medjugorje
A fifty percent divorce rate even in Christian homes. Homes full of electronics. Meals in front of the TV. Non-stop sports, activities and clubs. Fathers, mothers, and children are reeling from the brokenness in families today, but few are seeking answers in the right places. The children from broken families become the broken parents of the next generation of broken children, and the cycle continues. Do you want to change the world? Start by changing your family.
Our Lady of Medjugorje has given many messages about the family. To recall just a few:
May 1, 1986
July 24, 1986
June 23, 2002
In society, a shift has taken place changing the role of the mother in the home. Often times the father is put into a position of not only being provider in the family but also filling in for the mom while she is at work or tied up in some social engagement. If the father cannot take on this responsibility, then often times the kids are handed off to someone who is paid to take care of them. This change in roles has brought with it a heavy price. The past cannot be changed, but from today, a new attitude must prevail in the heart of the family. Our Lady in Medjugorje has shown by words and actions that the remedy for today’s family is through holy Motherhood.
In imitation of the changes a Friend of Medjugorje instituted in his family, both before and after he became involved with Medjugorje, family life in the Community of Caritas is vastly different than most family life in the world today. In the world, families are separated. Fathers, and often even mothers, leave the home to go to work. Children do not see their parents for most of the day. Most youth spend a majority of their time with other youth, with no adult around. Instead of being formed by adults with a mature spirituality, who can instill in them the proper mentalities, most youth are on their own, receiving their “formation” from other youth who are equally immature or they are receiving their formation from the television, movies, the internet and music that often falls under the radar of their parents. Our Lady of Medjugorje has given a different way, establishing a radically different life through the way of Her messages as lived in the Community of Caritas and guided by a Friend of Medjugorje.
In the community, the children are secure in knowing that their parents or other adults in the community are close by. Instead of leaving others to raise and form the children, the parents take on this responsibility with the joy of knowing that they have the first influence on their children. In being so nearby, they can instill life lessons way beyond the classroom.
In the Community of Caritas, parents are with their children throughout the day. They eat together, work together, pray together, and “play” together. Young boys learn hard work and manly virtue by working side by side with their fathers and the other men in the community. They learn early that the early bird catches the worm and never turn your back on a bull. They learn how to be gentle with little children, while always being ready to run into the ambush. They learn the importance of pulling your own weight and how to be a good provider for a future family of their own and for the community by taking good care of the animals and equipment, and they learn that a man is strongest when he is on his knees. Young girls learn womanly virtue and domestic skills such as cooking “good tasting” meals, cleaning, knitting and crocheting, sewing, the care of children, and the art of homemaking by working side by side with their own mothers and other women in the community. They learn beauty and grace and the meaning of hospitality in a Christian home. They also learn how to break a sweat with a shovel, how to tame a wild horse, how to drive a backhoe, how to kill a rattlesnake, and how to jump in when a job needs done, no matter what the job is.
Early on, a Friend of Medjugorje gave Our Lady the freedom to choose where She preferred to go for Her apparitions when She came to Caritas. The majority of the time Our Lady chooses the home of a Friend of Medjugorje and his wife, especially the Bedroom of Apparitions. By Our Lady’s actions, a Friend of Medjugorje began to grasp that the healing of nations will come only through the healing of the family – these mini-societies where holiness is born. The nation and the world will never be healed, will never be holy, until families are healed and become holy.
The mission of Caritas of Birmingham and the community’s agrarian operations are very high tech – using computers, cutting edge printing equipment, tractors, etc. in order to be able to reach more people with the messages of Our Lady, but that technology does not reach into the homes in the community. A Friend of Medjugorje often says, “We control the technology. We don’t let the technology control us.” No cell phones. No television. No computers in our homes. The distractions that keep most families separated, even though they are living under the same roof, are replaced in the homes of the Community of Caritas with prayer, conversation, and togetherness. In community, the “Evening World News” is all the happenings of the community that day.
The nucleus of the family is the husband and wife. One of a Friend of Medjugorje’s most important writings on the family is his book, How to Change Your Husband, the principles of which are lived in the families of the Community of Caritas.
Strong Christian families beget strong Christian children. While society today is geared so that children grow up and move away, dividing the family at each generation, the Community of Caritas is formed and structured to be multi-generational – that children can grow up and choose to stay in community, their children can grow up and stay in community, and the cycle can continue. A Friend of Medjugorje writes in the community’s rule, “A Way in a New Time”:
Kids no longer know how to “free play.” Everything is structured today from tournament sports to the McDonald’s play ground prison. Children need spontaneous play, and that can only come from where there is freedom with unnoticed boundaries that leave one feeling unrestricted. From playing with grass to climbing trees, this freedom to grow builds unity and makes the children confident in their dealings with others.
“The sway of society today to prepare for retirement during and after raising children leaves the next generation to repeat the cycle, which is leading to a weakening of ties across generations. The preoccupation and worry that we must ‘provide for ourselves’ in this way, while our grown children, just beginning their lives, are head over heels in debt, has caused great financial strain and stress on many marriages, as well as divorces.
This mentality is what fills up nursing homes, where parents are forgotten, and children are led not to have to take responsibility for their aged parents. This set pattern continues a cycle to the next generation and beyond. Through prayer and Our Lady’s way, we should witness that this cycle can be changed. Mirjana, one of the visionaries of Medjugorje has said, “It is a great sin to put parents in a nursing home.” Ivan, another of the visionaries in Medjugorje has said, “It is a joy for God to see three generations of family under the same roof.” We are not necessarily saying three generations must be under the same roof, but at least as a little village, close to each other. We, therefore, believe that instead of feathering our futures, we should be helping out newlywed couples by supporting their beginnings, allowing them the means to begin their life together without the enslavement of the next thirty years due to loans, mortgages, etc. This is not by any means entitlement, but rather, they earn their way by contributing their labor and skills to the Community and Caritas of Birmingham.
For those youth who are in the community and choose to stay, their years of learning and working contributes to building up the community. It rebounds back to them when they marry, through the community they helped build. This brings young families greater security and therefore, greater contentment, peace and harmony within the family. Having been helped in this way by their parents and the consecrated, the children grow up understanding that when their parents are no longer able to take care of themselves, that the children would then take it upon themselves to care and look after the needs of the aged. It should not be thought of as an imposition, but rather as a privilege, to care for the ones who gave so much to them in their growing years.
This strengthens the community in that a full cycle of generations are always moving through, exposing children to Grandma, Grandpa, to children wed with all others in between, breeding a holy way and a witness of God’s desires to change society to a better, holier way to live. This cycle cannot occur without hard work, for nothing is free. However, it is a labor of love, which is what makes it as though free and a fruit of Our Lady’s messages in our life that has guided us into the position of cross generations living in harmony together as opposed to society’s segregation of generations.”
The community is in the second and third generations in Our Lady’s school of love. What kind of people will these second and third generations turn out in the fourth and fifth generations? A generation of God’s people, whose forefathers walk with Our Lady leaves them indelibly marked by Her, even through their lineage, their posterity through all future generations until the end of the world.