Dear Sisters and Brothers,

The day was long and hard. Though it was bedtime, the father was at his work desk in his house finishing a report due the next day. After a few minutes, he realized that his son John was standing next to him. “Son, what do you need?” he asked. “It’s bedtime, Dad, and I’m here to wish you good night”. With eyes still fixed on the computer screen, the father gave him a big hug, kissed him and said, “Good night, sleep well; I love you” and continued his work. A couple of minutes later as he looked up, he saw his son standing next to him again. “Son, I hugged and kissed you, and wished you ‘Good night’. What do you want now?” The son said, “Dad, you’re right; you hugged and kissed me but you weren’t in it”. How often we’ve hugged and kissed our family without being in that hug and kiss?

I thought of this story when I received a text message from my family a couple of days ago. “Yesterday was rough for me (at work), dear. I’m still not ok. Please, take more interest in my life…what I did, what I look forward to”. That did it! I dropped all that I had at hand; picked up the phone and attended to that family member.

Isn’t our day to day experience that we get so busy doing things that we forget being with those we love? We’re so engaged in work that we forget the more important thing, being with the other. Many of us parents are so immersed in our work providing for our family that we forget something more essential – spending time with our loved ones.

It is said that the best present that you can give another is presence – your physical presence. When was the last time that you put aside all your work related concerns and were really present to those you love? How long back was it that you had a family meal together? Good food, good cheer and good conversation that nourished everyone in the family?

Someone said: “Marriages may be made in heaven but their maintenance needs to be done here on earth”. This is true of every relationship; they need to be nourished. Friends are like teeth; if you don’t care for them, they go away. Any marriage counselor would advise couples to take special time to themselves on a regular basis…date nights…to talk, to share their hopes and dreams, to look in each other’s eyes. Any child development expert would advise parents to spend the same type of focused time with their children, in order to help them grow in confidence by being loved.

In order to really experience God’s presence, we also need to spend some focused time with God in prayer. We all know this experientially, but sometimes it is difficult to make the time to pray, to be with those we love most in a meaningful way.

The Family Life Ministry will be working on creating opportunities for people to take a bit of time together in a focused way, together, with the presence of the Holy Spirit. We are currently reviewing the feedback from your surveys and will be summarizing the results soon.

In the meantime, may we suggest this important family ritual – eat dinner together. Family schedules can make this seem like a daunting task. It is better to eat later together than to not spend this important time together. Together times are the best times. While you are eating, tell stories of your day. These stories are our presence to one another. They provide the opportunity to share our joys and laughter, our fears and concerns, our burdens and our disappointments.

Finally, you may want to remember to bring God’s presence to the table with a prayer as you begin, so Christ could be the head of your family, the unseen guest at every meal and the silent listener to every conversation.

Why wait till you get a text from your loved one? Act now. For the best present that you can give your loved ones is presence. Give it generously and give it now.

With prayers, wishes and blessings!

Rev. William Rosario