Recently I was watching a movie about the rock band the Four Seasons called Jersey Boys, and a scene from the movie really struck me. The main singer, Frankie Valli, came home after a long tour and began fighting with his wife. At the end of the screaming match, he noticed that one of his daughters was sitting at the top of the stairs.
In the next scene, as he was putting her to bed, his daughter asked him, “Dad, do you love me?”
“Of course I love you,” he said.
Then she asked, “But do you like me?”
There it is: the cry of the child's heart looking to her father to know not only that she is loved but that she is liked and good.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states, “[T]he home is the first school of Christian life and a school for human enrichment where one learns . . . fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life” (CCC 1657). One can summarize this by saying that the family is a “school of love.”
By “school” we do not mean necessarily that the family is there to teach mathematics, geography, or history; although homeschooling is a beautiful and powerful alternative to public or private education. When we talk about “school,” we mean that the family, primarily the father and mother, have a beautiful responsibility to show and allow their children to experience and know that they are unconditionally loved and that it is very good that they exist.
The way the child views the world and God is first formed by the household in which he grows up and the environment around him. Each one of us in this school of love, the family, is meant to discover who we are and discover who God is through how our parents love us. Our identity is revealed to us by how much we are loved.
The fact that we are loved and that we are good is not conditioned on how we act, nor is it something we earn. For many of us, when we get older, we start to feel that we need to act in a certain way, look a certain way, or be a certain way to deserve love or be considered good. This feeling partly comes from deep father wounds and mother wounds all of us have from our parents failing to love us correctly, which stems from their parents failing to love them correctly, and this leads all the way back to Adam and Eve.
This burden of feeling the need to earn love and goodness also comes from a society that bombards us with propaganda that your “self worth” comes from what you can contribute to society. All these wounds cause anxiety, depression, fear, loss of self, anger, resentment, insecurity, and many other sufferings of the human heart.
All of these are symptoms of a greater problem: we do not know who we are. Many of us do not realize that we are so loved and that we are very good just by the fact that we exist! This is one of the results of original sin. But Jesus came to cure this whole reality by revealing to us the Father’s love and by giving us a loving Mother at the foot of the cross.
We have a loving Father in heaven and loving Mother in heaven who want to reveal to us that we do not have to do anything to be loved or good.
Please let all families turn and open themselves up to the love of our Father and Mother in heaven. Let all parents, with God’s grace, turn their homes into schools of love so that every child truly knows and experiences that they are loved and that their existence is very good.
I encourage all to get to know the love of our Father and Mother in heaven. Visit Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, or go to a quiet place in your house and ask our Lord and our Lady to reveal to your heart how much you are loved and how good you are.