Christmas is coming. During the Octave of Christmas each year we celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, which this year falls on December 29. Such a liturgical tradition clearly reveals to us the importance of the family.
For each person, the family is the cradle of life and love. It is the place where we are born and grow up. Even Jesus needed a family into which to be born and raised.
It is in the family that we begin to learn concern for others and how to love and build relationships with people.
In the family, we learn truth and are formed in the faith. Every person hopes to be loved and accepted. Close and harmonious family relationships bring us love and a sense of belonging.
Even though life has its ups and downs, a close-knit family is like a harbour in a storm. In times of necessity, we can go there for protection.
Intimate family relationships help us to have self-confidence and to cherish hope in life. At the same time, the family is the place where we receive our moral values and our social, spiritual and cultural traditions.
The ability to hope in promises, take on duties in society and bear heavy responsibilities in cooperation with others comes from the teaching we receive in our families.
Unfortunately, families of today are facing many problems, such as: core family members being forcibly dispersed, living in inhuman environments, no one to appeal to in times of crisis, and even casual conversations and entertainment being shared only on the Internet.
In Hong Kong, divorce, single parent households and incidents of family violence have sky-rocketed in recent years.
Problem families and all kinds of changes in the social environment have caused young people, from childhood onwards, to be robbed of the experience of establishing balanced, healthy relationships with people and the opportunity of being loved.
The influence of these problems is far-reaching, leading to drug abuse, undisciplined behaviour, falling into bad company and a sense of losing oneself.
To address this series of questions effectively, each of us needs to make a commitment to help reinforce family values. Catholic families should even more strengthen the bonds that connect them with others in their families with a deep faith in Christ.
On the Feast of Christ the King, November 24 this year, at the conclusion of the Year of Faith, I called upon all the Catholic people of Hong Kong to strengthen their faith in the areas of knowledge, spirituality and action. This will help us to grow in all aspects of life.
We do not consider a happy family to be something natural and easily attainable, but we have the responsibility and, indeed the power, to create a better future for the next generation.
May the birth of Jesus Christ help us in the Year of Learning “to deepen our understanding of our Faith and to revitalise the spirit of Vatican II.”
The learning process will enable us to build happy families and a society of democracy and freedom.
May this Christmas Season bring warmth, new life and joy to your family, and may God bestow his peace upon all of you!