In mid-February, Alberta, British Columbia, New Brunswick, Ontario and Saskatchewan will celebrate Family Day. But what can such a holiday mean in an age when marriage is no longer understood to be the fertile, permanent union of man and a woman; when the very words “mother” and “father” are avoided for being too-sex-specific; and when our culture, mired in Soviet-era levels of linguistic inversion, has already liquidated the word “family” of any concrete, traditional definition? Instead of providing defenders of the family with a day to celebrate, the public recognition of such a holiday might, instead, give social conservatives an occasion to measure the distance between the true nature of the family and the poor counterfeit that now goes by that name.

This holiday will, of course, provide an opportunity for ideologues to amplify the preposterous messages of state-sanctioned propaganda; we will be treated to images of “family” which feature everything except heterosexual couples and their offspring. So far, so dismal—and utterly predictable, too. But for all of the politically correct (and politically enforced) official messages that this day will inspire about “families” in all its diverse forms, the fact remains: on the calendars of most Canadians, a day for the celebration of the family will occur.

There is only so much that radical rebranding can do to the notion of the family. Language itself—from expressions like “mother tongue” to “Father Time“—encodes the reality of the family into our very turns of phrase, because the family is the basis of our reality. The human person is always already enmeshed in a family of some kind, however limited or broken it might be.

In the same way, the family always points, not only towards the indisputable facts of our corporeal reality, but to a spiritual reality as well. As St. Paul writes, in his letter to the Ephesians: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.” (Eph 3:14-15) The word Greek word, πατριὰ (patria) that is here rendered as “family” can also—as its obvious English derivatives, such as “patriarch” and “patrimony,” suggest—mean “fatherhood” or “lineage.” St. Paul’s point, then, is one which affirms the doctrine to be found in the creation stories of Genesis: man made in the image of God (Gen 1:27), and so too is the family itself. The love and goodness and warmth of one’s family on earth offers a foretaste of the embrace that the Father of all men longs to extend to every one of His children in heaven.

We cannot stop the world from contorting and distorting the definition of the family. Nevertheless, its true material and spiritual meanings endure. This Family Day, you should take special care to celebrate a holiday that, despite all, will offer a reminder about the fundamental familial realities which give purpose to our struggle: a struggle for a world which is more just, and one which is more “family friendly” in the deepest sense of those words.