Holy Family Apostolate

for families… by families…

Preserving the Continuity of the Family

Posted by Joseph on 3 September, 2013

[In] pre-modern times, the family took measures to ensure a continuity that spanned the centuries. Family members became trustees who shared not only a common blood of heredity, but a common spiritual and material inheritance that each generation must hold as a sacred trust to be safeguarded and increased.

The Christian family, regardless of social class, naturally developed many variations of institutions such as primogeniture and entail where family goods and property could be preserved undivided. In most cases, the principal heir had the demanding obligation to preserve the family estate, keep alive the memory of the family’s past, endow brothers and sisters, care for parents and relatives in misfortune, and guarantee the livelihood of descendants. In this way, the family served as a powerful and affectionate social safety net, providing so many of the services that later fell to the cold detached modern State.

Painting by John Callcott Horsley

Such concepts make the family more than just a single relationship; it is an institution uniting personalities, property, names, rights, principles, and histories. Husband and wife are responsible for each other and their family to such an extent that divorce becomes inconceivable. Because it furthers the well-being of all society, it is in the interest of the State to favor this notion of the family and its continuity—and not burden it with inheritance taxes.(1)

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