Our parish in Broomfield is made up of many young families. A couple of years ago, reflecting with our priests, we shared the need to accompany and sustain these families in their vocation to holiness. From these conversations JPII Families was born: a proposal thought of for them, with a rule of life that can give clear guidelines for walking together, with the help of the priests of the Fraternity of St. Charles Borromeo that are here in mission with us. The rule is made up of moments of prayer and silence, encounters between husband and wife on a specific theme, conversations between the couples in the small groups in which they are divided, so that they become “a real community of friends in Christ” as the rule says. On top of this, there are also outings and a vacation during the summer to spend time together seeking to live the Christian call to holiness.
Last summer, with Marilù e Jennifer, I participated in the three day vacation of one of the groups. The six families that participated rented a house in our beautiful Rocky Mountains, a house big enough to host all the families and sisters, with a large kitchen and a shared dining room. It was the first time that they leapt into the adventure of sharing a few days together, each with their own habits and attitudes, and with a bit of fear of common life. It was the desire to follow the objectivity of the proposal of those days that opened their hearts to that which the Lord had prepared for each one of them, revealing unexpected graces. Each day started with the recitation of a psalm, followed by a song, a reading, and a prayer. It was beautiful to see the children that were there participate. A certain family was responsible for each meal of the day: the couple who prepared breakfast, waking up very early, was gratified and overjoyed by the wonder of the children in front of the pancakes with Nutella, also for the fact that they were “free of charge” as one of the more vivacious kids specified! Cooking together, preparing the table, cleaning, and tidying up are simple gestures in service of beauty and a chance to get to know each other.
It was the desire to follow the objectivity of the proposal of those days that opened their hearts to that which the Lord had prepared for each one of them, revealing unexpected graces.
During the day, there was time and space for a hike together with one of the other groups of JPII Families, with Mass at the summit with Fr. Matteo, songs, games and card tournaments, chit-chat between the moms and cigars after dinner for the dads. A beautiful sign of the joy, truth, and goodness of those days for the life of each one of us was the fact that the children, led by the older girls, prepared sketches every day to recount something silly that had happened, making fun of their parents, Fr. Matteo and the sisters.
Who would use three days of their vacation, waking up early to prepare pancakes for people that one hardly knows, if it wasn’t for the desire to grow, to accompany, and be accompanied in the path to holiness? Now that the year has begun, participating in one of the groups together with my sisters, it strikes me to see the charity that is lived between the families, the sense of community and affection that grows. It is an experience that is just beginning, and so there is a great deal of enthusiasm. But the seriousness with which these families are trying to follow the proposal emerges, letting themselves be provoked and showing a willingness to change their attitudes to walk following Christ, who makes a claim on every aspect of our lives.