(Presence-info) The Archbishop of Montreal doesn't have any illusions: The family has changed greatly. Far from speaking nostalgically about the times when the radio program Le chapelet en famille used to be aired, he explained that it is precisely because the family has changed that today's society should give it greater importance.
In public, Most Reverend Christian Lépine often insists on the importance of making time for more spirituality and prayer. According to him, this is a challenge that affects families in particular.
"Every era has its obstacles. Today, a time of endless to-do lists, one of these obstacles is to simply take the time," he said, describing this difficulty as the "first struggle for prayer."
Archbishop Lépine attended the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September to establish contacts and return to Montreal with references. He said that he's always on the lookout for content or speakers that could contribute to the Archdiocese of Montreal's effort in providing the attention that he would like to give to families. One of his roles is to remind us all of the importance of prayer for families.
"By praying, we are saying: "Lord, we would like to encounter you and have you in our lives." "But is it easy?" he asked. In his opinion, the issue is not as much to determine whether prayer is important or not for the family. First, families have to find a way to meet and spend time together.
"The challenge is not only about prayer; it is also on a human level. For families to simply take the time to get together is in itself a challenge. I believe that a society must ask itself the question: How can we support families? I'm thinking about the balance between work and family. How can we make it possible for members of a family to meet, spend time together, and to truly be a family?" asked Christian Lépine.
Providing a Space for the Family
According to the Archbishop of Montreal, today's society places a lot of value on individual rights. "Rightly so," he pointed out, "except that now we don't really know how to provide a space for the family. It is not easy, because it requires equal collaboration on behalf of every part of society: the governments, legislation, companies, the work system, leisure, and parishes... It requires a combined effort, a way of thinking that puts family first and penetrates society's every dimension. I believe that we still have quite a ways to go [to provide it this space]."
By his own admission, Most Reverend Lépine would like to toss around a few ideas, even if it means "dreaming in technicolour." He wonders if Quebec shouldn't have a "family day," which could be Sunday. He admitted that referring to Sunday as the "Day of the Lord" in a secular society is not very effective, as it requires adherence to faith. It would be clearly preferable to speak from now on of a day dedicated to the family, as it actually refers to a reality that continues to touch everyone. For him, the equation is simple: What strengthens the family strengthens society.
"If Sunday were to become the day of the family, secularized, it would be a way for society to say that 'the family is important.' It's simple, but we must do it. As usual, the family is the last to be served. What if we could serve the family first...," he said, allowing himself to dream just for a moment.