never give in

Families: Never Give In

In 1941, London had been under siege, seemingly standing alone against a well-armed enemy. Germany had bombed the city for months: lives were lost, buildings destroyed, morale low. England’s then-Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, spoke to the nation about these dark days:

[N]ever give in, never give in, never, never, never-in nothing, great or small, large or petty – never give in except to convictions of honour and good sense. Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy.

In his apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis understands that the modern nuclear family – father, mother, children and extended family – is also under siege. The war we face is with a hidden enemy but one who is still very real. Parents know the struggle of protecting innocence, of standing firm in faith and morality against an increasingly hostile culture, and the necessity of creating a home life that offers respite from a harsh world.

In family life, we need to cultivate that strength of love which can help us fight every evil threatening it. Love does not yield to resentment, scorn for others or the desire to hurt or to gain some advantage. The Christian ideal, especially in families, is a love that never gives up. I am sometimes amazed to see men or women who have had to separate from their spouse for their own protection, yet, because of their enduring conjugal love, still try to help them, even by enlisting others, in their moments of illness, suffering or trial. Here too we see a love that never gives up. Para. 119

The Holy Father talks of a positive attitude that requires endurance, and a “dogged heroism” that is committed to goodness. One would be hard-pressed to find someone who disagreed with this. We all want a home that is a place of forgiveness, goodness, and love. One would also be hard-pressed to find any family who does this well, all the time.

We are human; we all struggle with sin. As much as we love our parents, our siblings, our children, our spouse, we do not always love as we should. We criticize. We speak harshly. We fail to listen. We are impatient, unkind, unforgiving: the very opposite of what we are called to be.

What to do? The Church offers us the Sacrament of Reconciliation so that we might seek forgiveness from God and gain the grace we need to do better. Making frequent use of this sacrament as a family is a tremendous gift we can give one another.

The simple act of saying, “I’m sorry” and “I forgive you” when they need to be said is indispensable. Both children and adults need to know that they can make mistakes, they can sin, and that they are still loved and lovable.

We can never give in. Evil hates love. It hates forgiveness, patience, kindness. Evil hates the dogged determination to love. While it is difficult for families to live up to this standard, we must never give in. We cannot give in to despair or fear, to hostility or harshness. We must never give in. We must love.