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Bacolod City, Philippines Friday, February 26, 2016
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Rock and refuge
with Fr. Roy Cimagala

Human affection and family life

It's good that we give due attention to plan and develop our affectivity especially in the context of our family life. We are all humans, and we can face big issues and challenges in life, but we should never forget that we need to show affection to everyone, regardless of the situation, because that is an immediate and universal human need.

Without affection, all signs and expressions of civility, mercy and compassion would be hollow. They would all be a sham, for affection is the beginning and end of charity, the integral packaging of love that can have its highest point in mercy and compassion. Charity without affection would be a strange charity.

And the model for this is none other than Christ himself who in spite of the seriousness of his mission—nothing less than human redemption that would have its culmination in his crucifixion—never neglected to show affection for everyone.

First, he lived 30 of his 33 years of earthly life in a family, and we can just imagine how the family atmosphere was when both Mary and Joseph knew who their son was. We can be sure that the home life the Holy Family must have been invariably characterized by affection, to say the least.

Even in his public life when Christ was busy going around preaching, he always showed affection and compassion with everyone, especially those who were sick and possessed. With his apostles who went around with him, he always managed to spend time with them in some lonely place where they could rest and talk with greater intimacy.

It's important that we make deliberate effort to develop our affective life. There now are many threats and dangers that can undermine it. We can take others, especially those who are close to us, like the family members, for granted.

We can easily fall into familiarity that may not breed contempt as much as it breeds indifference and unconcern. Then, there now are many distractions, especially coming from our new technologies, that can hook people into endless games and other self-absorbing and self-seeking activities. In this regard, there is a great need for self-discipline and a strong sense of order and priorities.

If not the above, then we can have the dangers of perfectionism, self-righteousness, obsessive-compulsive rigidities and oversensitivity. These can imprison us in our own world that can use as defense mechanisms such practices as rash judgments, the keeping of grudges and resentments, the unwillingness to forgive, etc.

There also are the dangers of sentimentalism, particular friendships, loquacity, gossiping, backbiting.

We have to learn how to deal with our unavoidable differences and even conflicts in some matters. We somehow should welcome these differences and conflicts because they serve to expand and enrich our understanding of things.

Let's remember that the itinerary and shape of our human and Christian growth is indicated by what the others need or expect from us, no matter how unlikeable these expectations are.

The will of God for us at any given moment is many times known through what the others need. Attending to these needs with affection builds up our human maturity and the fullness of Christian charity.

When we manage to practice affection in our family life, we actually would be putting ourselves in a good position to handle the demands of all the other aspects of our life—spiritual, professional, social, etc.

We can pray better, work better and relate ourselves better to the others when we know how to be affectionate in our family life. We can be very simple, and our ability to understand people and things better, as well as to discover more things of interest in others would be enhanced if we are affectionate with others.

We need to spread and propagate this culture of being affectionate in our family life more widely. This is what the world needs now very badly. We should find ways of making plans to develop this basic aspect of our life.

Family meals and other forms of family togetherness should be fostered. We should have the habit of listening to others intently, getting to know them more thoroughly, including their tastes and styles, their biases and preferences.

We should always be ready with smiles, stories, jokes, positive and encouraging words, etc. These have a certain charm and magic that can always outdo the criteria of cold reason alone.

We need to bring this matter of how to be affectionate in our prayer and study. We cannot anymore afford to take it for granted.

We have to be dead serious about this duty.*

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