Life is Today
Wanting to share their experience with their own children, Steph, Stella, and Hannah proposed the Risk of Education work with Father José and now offer an invitation to the "family calls."
In the Summer of 2018, Steph and Stella, along with their fraternity, went on vacation together. In the weeks of planning that preceded those days together, questions arose: what do we want to communicate about our experience to the kids? How do we go about doing this? How does the work we do in School of Community and the experience we live in Fraternity change the way we go about trying to educate our kids? From this experience, there emerged the desire to take life in the family seriously and we came up with the idea to host a series of calls focused on living religiosity in the family.
Afterward, a group of families with kids spanning all ages began meeting once a month via Zoom for a lesson given by Father Jóse. An assembly followed a few weeks later. The things he helped us to see--the importance of eating together as a family and not using meals as “recharging stations,” the use of technology in the home, how to live Advent and Lent with our children, etc.--were so simple, yet at the same time so essential.
These moments together gave each of us the opportunity to look more carefully at the way we live the day-to-day and helped us to really see our family lives and our children with new eyes. And, even perhaps more beautifully, it showed us that this place is a place where you can bring every question, whether seemingly banal or potentially profound, to the table, a place where everyone can be helped to see something more. This freedom to bring all of yourself to the table with people who might not be the most familiar to you has brought forth its own fruits and has generated many beautiful new friendships among us.
Over time, through our fidelity to the work of these calls and the friendships that began sprouting among us, the question of education more broadly began to open up. What does it mean to truly educate? How do we educate our children? How do we educate ourselves? Where do we go to be continually educated? These questions corresponded with the publication of the new translation of The Risk of Education, so we decided to propose to work on this text together, inviting everyone.
At the conclusion of the work on The Risk of Education, we had an assembly with Giorgio Vittadini and Father Carrón in New York at the New York Encounter. We came prepared to share with them all that we had discovered: the renewed love for the educational method of School of Community, the desire to live “suspended from God,” as Father Giussani speaks about, the way we were fascinated with how Father Giussani speaks about “tradition”, etc. They challenged us to see the work we had done as another step instead of something conclusive--a step that could help us reopen all of the questions about “particulars” we shared in the initial family calls and to dive back into the nitty-gritty with a new horizon.
Immediately following this meeting in New York, we were all hit with the Covid-19 lockdown. At the beginning of the lockdown, Father Jóse proposed to the families a way to live a “rule” in the home, introducing a rhythm of life to help all of us recover what is essential in our day-to-day and to help us parents, disoriented and challenged by the moment, to understand what truly anchors us in the midst of our daily difficulties that had been intensified by the lockdown circumstances. That lesson from Fr. José helped us to see that life is today; it isn’t put on pause until the lockdown or the pandemic ends. This helped us to try to live each day with the question: what can we propose to our kids today; what is Jesus proposing to me today?
We met again at the beginning of Advent and then also Lent, inviting not only the initial group who participated in the calls with families, but also anyone who participated in The Risk of Education work. This had its own beautiful surprises because many people who now join in are not necessarily parents in the biological sense, but share deeply in the same desire Steph and Stella’s Fraternity had at the outset and have been enormously helpful in drawing out new and interesting questions in our assemblies.
For us, one of the beautiful things about walking this path together is to see the freedom of people to propose what is interesting to them--what they find valuable and helpful for living religiosity in the home. We learn so much from each other, not as “collaborators,” but as brothers and sisters who want to walk with each other through all of the mess and also through all of the beauty.
We have no strict plan as we look ahead of us at this year: we simply follow what questions come out of us and our friends with the hope that we can continue to live today all of the beauty of our vocation.
If you would like to be on the email list to be kept up to date with this work as it continues, please feel free to write to Stephanie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Steph, Crosby, Minnesota
Stella, St. Cloud, Minnesota
Hannah, Cincinnati, Ohio