Just a bit ago, I went to go visit my great aunt out in Carson. She's a Catholic nun, currently residing in the convent next to St. Philomena Catholic Church. Throughout my entire life, my great aunt has always expressed her love and passion for family - a united family. My grandmother passed away before I was born, so I never got the chance to meet her and form a strong bond with her, but my grandma will forever live on in the memories of my mom and her six siblings. Now, my great aunt constantly discusses how important family was to my grandma, and how it would break her heart to see the condition of her family today.
As previously mentioned, my mother grew up in a considerably large household. With five older brothers and one older sister, being the “baby" of the family was never easy living, however, my aunt would contest that my mom was given more free passes than any of the other children. Though the countless stories my mom has stored away, such as car crashes into the garage, dinner with their grandparents, etc., life in such a large, stubborn family offers its own unique set of challenges.
As my mom explains, faith had always been the center of my grandma's life, and, in turn, was adopted as the center of the lives of my aunt and uncles. The family was being held together not just through their own, personal faith, but through the faith of my grandma. Eventually, my grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, but continued to fight with spirit and grace; she fought a courageous battle and never lost sight of God. However, with her passing, the glue that held my mother, aunt, and uncles together quickly faded away. Though we can never force religion or faith into anyone, my mom will always credit the division of her family to the loss of her mother and her mother's love and understand of God.
Since the passing of my grandmother, my mom has made it a priority in her life to raise me and my younger brother with the same love and respect for our faith that her mother had taught her at such a young age. Though many may say that the Catholic Church is harsh and strict in its teachings, I believe that with the right mentor, the only way to truly understand God is to understand authentic love, for it is at the core of Catholicism. My mother hasn't focused her education on faith as a “what not to do" list, but as a teaching of what genuine forgiveness looks like, and how to love your neighbor as you would love your own family member.
Family can be a difficult topic for most, or it can be the highlight of any conversation. Whatever your case may be, let go of the anger that is holding you back from forming loving bonds with your siblings, support each other in any endeavors, and show an unrelenting love to those you encounter each and every day; you never know who could become your family.