A refreshing statement by Fr Charbel on marriage, the coming-of-age of parenting and the misplaced importance of societal pressure.

“Honour you father and mother” Yes honour them, respect them, care for them, love them, but do not obey them in everything. Only God demands to be obeyed in everything. It is beautiful for me, a Frenchman, to see the virtues of filial devotion and respect to elders practiced by so many grown- ups in India, much more than in my own country where elders are so often neglected and parents’ advice disregarded. It is however a source of concern to see so many young adults living all their lives lying and hiding, because of the overbearing authority their parents claim to have on their lives; to see children of catholic families taking major decision in their lives, not with the purpose of doing the will of God or fulfilling their vocation, rather to do the will of their parents and not to disappoint or dishonour them.

There lies a wrong conception of honour and of the duty to obey one’s parents. Pope Francis tells us: “The Gospel goes on to remind us that children are not the property of a family, but have their own lives to lead. Jesus is a model of obedience to his earthly parents, placing himself under their charge (cf. Lk 2:51), but he also shows that children’s life decisions and their Christian vocation may demand a parting for the sake of the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 10:34-37; Lk 9:59- 62).”1

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Fr Charbel, originally from France and from the community of St John, is currently living in Pondicherry, India. He goes around preaching retreats and actively supporting youth and young families, especially with marriage issues and discerning vocation. He is currently the Chaplain for JY Tamilnadu.