Holy Family

Holy Family

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Feast of Pope Saint Hilary

Good morning. Yesterday morning as students were gathered having breakfast in a High School cafeteria in an up-scale suburban neighborhood 30 miles east of Cleveland gunfire reportedly rang-out killing 1 student and injuring four other students. In the coming weeks there will be considerable analysis of this senseless barbaric act. It is not my intent to focus so much on this incident, but to suggest it is indicative of the need for us parents to take more time to assure our children we care, and to be more vigilant and involved where it concerns the increased amount of desensitized violence portrayed on television, videos, and in music these days. One doesn’t need to poke their head out too often to know that there exists an alarming increase in the incidents of hostility amongst our school children. There is currently a pandemic of bullying and socially unacceptable behavior within our school systems nationally. I dare say it is one of the leading causes among schools for counseling referrals. In fact, bullying is a problem which is receiving increasing attention within academic circles and when recognized schools are for the most part able to respond to it in productive ways. Schools must take firm action to ensure the safety of the victims. Dorothy L. Espelage, PhD and Susan M. Swearer, PhD, authors of Bullying in American Schools: A Social-Ecological Perspective on Prevention and Intervention    suggest that “…it is not enough to declare “war on bullying”; it requires making peace with all kids through all the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macro-systems that affect their lives.” I couldn’t agree more; in fact, overall I feel we seem to be missing the mark in effectively addressing the cause of these increased acts of hostility.

I don’t in any way wish to oversimplify this very serious social issue but I do firmly believe that a factor which foremost needs to be addressed in attempting to curtail the incidences of school violence is assuring the existence of loving and healthy family systems. It is often bantered about within some circles that it “takes a village to raise a child”; this often repeated rallying cry for increased government programming to attend to societal ills fails to appreciate that the existence of their village is contingent upon there being a loving family. The primary building block of any village, the family provides the foundation for the proper development of effective social skills. It is not the gun that kills; it is the gun in the hand of someone who lacks soundly formed judgment which kills. We need to return to the basics. It is the family where we learn right from wrong. This is a lesson which is clearly found in today’s readings. Our first reading from Isaiah, notes the importance for properly planting seed which will achieve “the end for which I sent it.” God’s word when properly instructed completes the purpose for which it is sent. Likewise we find reflected in the Gospel, in the prayer Jesus gave us, a loving parent-child relationship, a relationship which God knows to be necessary for effectively building His Kingdom. There is much which needs to be done toward bringing an end to the violence witnessed yesterday in Ohio. I do not presume to have all the answers, but of this I am sure, it must begin at home with a loving and healthy family system. As Jennifer Roback Morse reminds us in Love and Economics:It Takes a Family to Raise a Village there are no social programs which can take the place of how it was intended from the beginning—a loving mother and father working together as a team to lay the groundwork for a healthy conscience. The former Pope Saint Hilary, whose life we commemorate today was the victim of thugs of a different sort and he saw his way through with prayer. The surest answer to this growing problem we have in our schools and in our streets is likewise prayer, and homes founded on love, respect and commitment—to God and to one another. It takes a family to raise a village! Make a great day!

Today we recall the good life, gifts, and work of Pope Saint Hilary.

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