Start your meeting with the Sign of the Cross and a prayer. Then someone read:
“Jesus went down with them and came to Nazareth and lived under their authority. His mother stored up all these things in her heart. Jesus increased in wisdom, in stature, and in favour with God and men.” Luke 2:51-52
Read the script
“A Home Like That of Nazareth” September 2006 JC
The family as we know it has been subject to all sorts of modifications of law change. In recent times in NZ the definition of family has been widened, the civil union of same sex couples has been legalised, adoptions to them permitted and rights of de facto partners tightened. At the same time, family life in NZ seems to be deteriorating. We have witnessed some horrendous abuse to children, which the retiring Governor General described as ‘New Zealand’s hidden scandal’.
We have seen on TV re-occurring arson attacks on community and private buildings as youth vent their anger. We have seen wayward youth drop stone blocks on motorways with dire consequences. We have seen the dreadful effects of drugs, gambling and alcohol.
The church’s stance on the importance and sanctity of family life is sometimes demeaned by media. We want to restate our position. So, this month, we are sending you some extracts from a recent talk by Pope Benedict XVI which we hope that you will take turns at reading and commenting upon. So the usual round of questions are not provided but a greater opportunity for discussion and sharing is available. Hope you will enjoy this change of format. It may also lead you to formulate some possible initiatives for the strengthening of family life in your area.
Let’s now enjoy some more of the song from Marie Bellet!
Instead of questions this month, we are presenting you with some extracts from the address of Pope Benedict XVI to the 5th World Meeting of Families in Valencia, Spain, 8 July, 2006.
Song this month is from Marie Bellet 'What I wanted to say' from the album of the same name.
Take turns reading these extracts. After each one, pause and comment on any points that may have attracted your attention and/or interest you. What are the implications for action as individuals or a group in your family or area?
CCC = Catechism of the Catholic Church. Thanks to zenit.org
*The family is the privileged setting where every person learns to give and receive love. That is why the Church constantly wishes to demonstrate her pastoral concern for this reality, so basic for the human person. She teaches: "God, who is love and who created man and woman for love, has called them to love. By creating man and woman he called them to an intimate communion of life and love in marriage. 'So they are no longer two but one flesh' (Matthew 19:6)" (CCC 337).
* Pope John Paul II said that man has been made "in the image and likeness of God not only by his being human, but also by the communion of the persons that man and woman have formed since the beginning. They become the image of God, not so much in their aloneness as in their communion" (Catechesis, 14 November 1979).
* The family is an intermediate institution between individuals and society, and nothing can completely take its place. The family is itself based primarily on a deep interpersonal relationship between husband and wife, sustained by affection and mutual understanding. To enable this, it receives abundant help from God in the sacrament of matrimony, which brings with it a true vocation to holiness. Would that our children might experience more the harmony and affection between their parents, rather than disagreements and discord, since the love between father and mother is a source of great security for children and its teaches them the beauty of a faithful and lasting love.
* The family is a necessary good for peoples, an indispensable foundation for society and a great and lifelong treasure for couples. It is a unique good for children, who are meant to be the fruit of the love, of the total and generous self-giving of their parents. To proclaim the whole truth about the family, based on marriage as a domestic Church and a sanctuary of life, is a great responsibility incumbent upon all. Father and mother have said a complete "yes" in the sight of God, which constitutes the basis of the sacrament which joins them together. Likewise, for the inner relationship of the family to be complete, they also need to say a "yes" of acceptance to the children whom they have given birth to or adopted, and each of which has his or her own personality and character.
* The ecclesial community therefore has the responsibility of offering support, encouragement and spiritual nourishment which can strengthen the cohesiveness of the family, especially in times of trial or difficulty. Here parishes have an important role to play, as do the various ecclesial associations, called to co-operate as networks of support and a helping hand for the growth of families in faith. Together with passing on the faith and the love of God, one of the greatest responsibilities of families is that of training free and responsible persons. For this reason the parents need gradually to give their children greater freedom, while remaining for some time the guardians of that freedom.
* If children see that their parents - and, more generally, all the adults around them - live life with joy and enthusiasm, despite all difficulties, they will themselves develop that profound "joy of life" which can help them to overcome wisely the inevitable obstacles and problems which are part of life. Furthermore, when families are not closed in on themselves, children come to learn that every person is worthy of love, and that there is a basic, universal brotherhood which embraces every human being. To hand down the faith to children, with the help of individuals and institutions like the parish, the school or Catholic associations, is a responsibility which parents cannot overlook, neglect or completely delegate to others.
* "The Christian family is called the domestic church because the family manifests and lives out the communal and familiar nature of the Church as the family of God. Each family member, in accord with his or her own role, exercises the baptismal priesthood and contributes towards making the family a community of grace and of prayer, a school of human and Christian virtues, and the place where the faith is first proclaimed to children" (CCC 350). And what is more: "Parents, in virtue of their participation in the fatherhood of God, have the first responsibility for the education of their children and they are the first heralds of the faith for them. They have the duty to love and respect their children as persons and as children of God ... in particular, they have the mission of educating their children in the Christian faith" (CCC 460).
* The language of faith is learned in homes where this faith grows and is strengthened through prayer and Christian practice. This is the best way to counter a widespread hedonism which reduces human relations to banality and empties them of their authentic value and beauty. To promote the values of marriage does not stand in the way of fully experiencing the happiness that man and women encounter in their mutual love. Christian faith and ethics are not meant to stifle love, but to make it healthier, stronger and more truly free. Human love needs to be purified and to mature if it is to be fully human and the principle of a true and lasting joy .
* The family is also a school which enables men and women to grow to the full measure of their humanity. The experience of being loved by their parents helps children to become aware of their dignity as children. Children need to be brought up in the faith, to be loved and protected. Along with their basic right to be born and to be raised in the faith, children also have the right to a home which takes as its model the home of Nazareth, and to be shielded from all dangers and threats.
* I would now like to say a word to grandparents, who are so important for every family. They can be -- and so often are -- the guarantors of the affection and tenderness which every human being needs to give and receive. They offer little ones the perspective of time, they are memory and richness of families. In no way should they ever be excluded from the family circle. They are a treasure which the younger generation should not be denied, especially when they bear witness to their faith at the approach of death.
Conclude your meeting with your usual prayers
then together say the following prayer:
God, who in the Holy Family left us a perfect model of family life lived in faith and obedience to your will, Help us to be examples of faith and love for your commandments. Help us in our mission of transmitting the faith that we received from our parents. Open the hearts of our children so that the seed of faith, which they received in baptism, will grow in them. Strengthen the faith of our young people, that they may grow in knowledge of Jesus. Increase love and faithfulness in all marriages, especially those going through times of suffering or difficulty. United to Joseph and Mary, we ask this through Jesus Christ your Son, our Lord. Amen.
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