The family’s catechetical activity has a special character, which is in a sense irreplaceable. This special character has been rightly stressed by the Church, particularly by the Second Vatican Council. Education in the faith by parents, which should begin from the children’s tenderest age, is already being given when the members of a family help each other to grow in faith through the witness of their Christian lives, a witness that is often without words but which perseveres throughout a day-to-day life lived in accordance with the Gospel. This catechesis is more incisive when, in the course of family events (such as the reception of the sacraments, the celebration of great liturgical feasts, the birth of a child, a bereavement) care is taken to explain in the home the Christian or religious content of these events.
I spoke to the mother of a large family the other day who told me she dreads the beginning of the school year. Although she has been teaching her children for many years, she still chafes at the responsibility and lack of freedom to pursue her own interests. She understands the importance and will continue to home school, but has not yet received the grace to accept her sacrifices and struggles with peace and serenity. Perhaps she never will. After all, Blessed Mother Teresa of Calcutta accomplished most of her work feeling that God had abandoned her in prayer. None of us really knows the sacrifices we will be called to make for the Kingdom of God, but we must strengthen our resolve to accept them.
The mutual relationship between the mystery of the Church and Mary appears clearly in the “great portent” described in the Book of Revelation: “A great portent appeared in heaven, a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars” (12:1). In this sign the Church recognizes an image of her own mystery: present in history, she knows that she transcends history, inasmuch as she constitutes on earth the “seed and beginning” of the Kingdom of God. The Church sees this mystery fulfilled in complete and exemplary fashion in Mary. She is the woman of glory in whom God’s plan could be carried out with supreme perfection.