Love grows in freedom

Little things mean a lot” was a first-hit name in the 1950s: little things meant a lot. If you were to write about the success of the young family meeting at the Christliche Familie Initiative (ICF), you couldn’t avoid many important ‘little things’ Which over the years has given more than 3,000 families the recognition and help that they need and deserve.A few days ago, the meeting was held for the twentieth time in the romantic Pöllauer Valley in Styria.

The “little things” start with the program: lectures, motivations, testimonials, joint prayers with the children, and nursing mothers do not have to join the wooden bench without a backrest. There are comfortable garden chairs reserved for them. And when the temperatures rise in the great tent – the auditorium, the meeting point of morning and evening prayers, and now and then the church service – like midsummer, young assistants appear and distribute cold drinking water to all. Those who really want to be quiet when breastfeeding will find a breastfeeding area for mothers with a refrigerator and baby food as well as a “Buschenschank” where socialization is cultivated.

Don’t give up spiritual food

No one should give up spiritual nourishment in order to take care of children. You can listen to the program live in the breastfeeding area, in the play tent for the little ones, or in the sandbox next to it. Everything is geared to the needs of young families. Even the table arrangement in the dining areas of the large Pöllauer Schlosspark is no accident. Michelle Schmalzbauer, wife of lead organizer Robert, thought about it carefully: “How small are the children? Is there a baby carriage, how close is the food counter? With whom can you have good conversations? How do we categorize experienced and first-time families?”

This particular concern for the needs of the family is especially noticeable at Mass ceremonies. The massive collegiate church of Pöllauer, called “St. Peter’s Cathedral in Styria” because of its shape and size, takes the last seat – and at least two-thirds of the revellers are children and young adults. Despite this, the crowds are surprisingly majestic and calm. The fact that the sermon should not last more than three minutes and that there is a children’s church with a large projection screen in the large cupboard certainly contributes to this. That is why almost everyone comes to the daily liturgy, although, as Robert Schmaszbauer told all the Fathers at the beginning of the meeting, no one is obligated to do anything. Families can and should be free to decide how much a program is good for them. Of course, the program is designed so that you can always reach the next program item on time without stress, even with a small child in each hand and a child in a sling. An age-appropriate children’s program gives parents the opportunity to be on their own and thus have time and peace for spiritual impulses or just to share ideas together.

A peaceful and empowering week

This year again, 170 families with over 400 children experienced a week of peace and empowerment, also thanks to the help of more than 200 volunteers. Freedom and peace were the “slogan of the jubilee,” based on the message to the Galatians (“You are called to freedom”) and Psalm 34 (“Seek peace and follow it!”). From France, bestselling author Father Jacques-Philippe of the Beatitude Society, whose books have been translated into 24 languages ​​and have sold over a million copies, also spoke as a speaker. In three lectures he spoke about the freedom that Christ offers and wants to give.

Father Philip offered the listening fathers a mixture of sound theological analysis and practical help. He advocated that freedom be understood not as the power to do anything (“supernatural freedom”), as unlimited choice (“supermarket freedom”), independence, or spontaneity (“I just follow my heart”). Because without God there is no real freedom. It is not possible to control everything or decide whether the heart follows a good or bad beat without educating the heart.

God is the friend of freedom

God is the best friend of freedom: “He created us free and gave us back freedom when we lost it. Trusting in Him makes you free. This is why the paradox is true: “The more you trust in God, the more free you become.” And finally: “There is no love without freedom – but also There is no freedom without love. “God is an example of love in freedom:” Jesus always says: Do you want? Satan says: You must! A free man can be defined as one who “has the capacity to love in every situation.”

And so the Frenchman becomes very practical: in order to keep love in freedom, you need faith and hope, and therefore prayer, sacraments and community. And: “You do not have to solve all problems now. Hand your past to God and your future to Providence. Do what is required of you today and now.” An editorial letter to many couples.

Accept your weaknesses

Father Jacques-Philippe repeatedly encourages parents to accept their limitations and weaknesses, quoting Pope Francis: “Most of God’s plans are realized through our weakness and frailty.” Two virtues can always be practiced at any time: humility and hope. “Parents sometimes shiver for their children, but they must always keep hope.” Because there is a deep connection between all parents and God: God also suffers from the suffering and difficulties of His children. “So you are automatically in fellowship with God! Saviors have to pray for hours to draw near to Him, but you are there by nature! It is no coincidence that marriage is a sacrament, the presence of God: where two or three gather in my name, I am in the midst of them – the first application of the word of Jesus This is marriage.”

These thoughts continue to influence marital conversations, workshops, and the experienced couple’s courageous life testimonial. And also in the sermon of the Bishop of the Diocese of Graz Wilhelm Krautwachl, who came to the pilgrimage of participants to the Maria Paulauberg Church on Saturday: “Christ is only effective in us if we repeatedly set out to search for him, turn to him and ourselves so we also trust in his mother.”

Consecration of the Blessed Mother

After the homily, families can dedicate themselves in solemn prayer to the Blessed Mother, a particularly poignant moment, as was the renewal of marriage the day before: spouses were invited to open their hearts in Eucharistic worship, confess to a priest and then beg forgiveness and give one another. In the evening they were able to renew their vows in a solemn mass.

More than 25 priests traveled specifically to serve families. It may be a small service, but it also means a lot, because the Young Family Reunion Church is not seen as a problem but as a solution.

The power of love

Robert Schmalzbauer, who is responsible for the Christian Family Initiative, sees the power of love in freedom in this: “I am amazed that 400 adults go to confession in one afternoon, without peer pressure, but with complete freedom to open up to grace.” For some it is the first confession of their lives. . And her joy afterward is particularly touching. Freedom is a very important principle: “First of all, everyone comes here voluntarily. And we tell everyone that they must be free to choose the elements of the program. This freedom opens. It gives the opportunity to choose the good. And helpers are there of their own free will – which again inspires families. Love He always gives himself for free, and the service of love that 200 young men give most of them is infectious.”

In the hit song mentioned at the beginning about “the little things,” one line reads: “Whether the day is bright or gray, give me your heart to count on.” Whether the weather is nice or gray – give me your heart to build on it. For one week a year, the meeting of the young family in Pöllau seems to be the place where it is possible and can be experienced – in relation to God and to each other. Even in the midst of a turbulent world there are places of grace.

The print edition of Tagespost complements the current news on with background information and analysis.

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