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The Joy of the Family

“The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.”  That is the beginning and the heart of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the joy of love.

Amoris Laetitia reflects the results of recent synods on the family as well as other writings of Pope Francis and his predecessors.  It speaks of the gifts and joys of families but, also, acknowledges the contemporary challenges which they face.

The pope emphasizes the importance of marriage and family life, writing, “The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and the Church.”  The family, thus,  is a source of strength for the Church, just as the Church is a source of strength for families.

To celebrate, promote, protect and strengthen marriage and families in our world, the Diocese of Portland has launched the Joy of the Family initiative. A specific theme featured in Amoris Laetitia will be highlighted each month and will include opening and closing prayers, a reading, a passage from Amoris Laetitia, a "contemplate and share" section, intercessions, weekly suggestions for practical activities, and a reflection from an individual or individuals who possess a special personal connection to the monthly theme. You will find this month's reflection below.

It is hoped developing these themes will help the faithful understand the teachings in Amoris Laetitia and inspire us all to integrate these teachings in our daily lives.  


APRIL 2017 REFLECTION - THE JOY OF FAMILY

OPENING PRAYER

God of joy and love,
You gave us the gift of family.
Open our minds and hearts,
     so we may see our own family as a gift from you.
Help us to make our family a place
    where your love and joy are found.
Through Christ our Lord.

Amen.

READINGS

1 Corinthians 1, 7

“… every man should have his own wife and every woman her own husband … each has a particular gift from God, one of one kind and one of another.”

Psalm 128:1-6

Happy are you who fear the Lord, who walk in his ways!
     For you shall eat the fruit of your handiwork;
        happy shall you be, and favored.
     Your wife shall be like a fruitful vine
         in the recess of your home;
     Your children like olive plants around your table.
     Behold, thus is the man blessed who fears the Lord
     The Lord bless you from Zion:
        may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life;
     May you see your children’s children.
     Peace be upon Israel! 

AMORIS LAETITIA

“The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church” (n. 1)

“I thank God that many families, which are far from considering themselves perfect, live in love, fulfill their calling and keep moving forward, even if they fall many times along the way.  The Synod’s reflections show us that there is no stereotype of the ideal family but, rather, a challenging mosaic made up of many different realities, with all the joys, hopes and problems.  The situation that concerns us are challenges.  We should not be trapped into wasting our energy in doleful laments but, rather, seek new forms of missionary creativity.  In every situation that presents itself, ‘the Church is conscious of the need to offer a word of truth and hope…  the great value of marriage and the Christian family correspond to a yearning that is part and parcel of human existence.’ If we see any number of problems, these should be, as the Bishops of Colombia have said, a summons to ‘revive our hope and to make it the source of prophetic visions, transformative actions and creative forms of charity.’”  (n. 57)

CONTEMPLATE & SHARE

Pope Francis reminds us that there is ‘no stereotype of the ideal family but, rather, a mosaic made up of many different realities, with all the joys, hopes and problems.’  Share some of the joys, hopes and challenges that make up the mosaic of your family.

INTERCESSIONS

Fifth Sunday of Lent - That the faith-filled joy shared by the siblings Mary, Martha and Lazarus may inspire all families to believe in eternal life, we pray to the Lord…

Palm Sunday - That families may find hope in the example of the Lord’s passionate, sacrificial love for all people, we pray to the Lord…

Easter Sunday - That the new life of the Resurrection may gather and fill all families with Easter joy, we pray to the Lord…

Divine Mercy Sunday - That the promise of mercy and forgiveness may reconcile and reunite families who are divided, we pray to the Lord…

Third Sunday of Easter - That Christian families may find joy in recognizing the Risen Lord in the breaking of the bread at Sunday Eucharist, we pray to the Lord…

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer to the Holy Family from “Amoris Laetitia”

Jesus, Mary, and Joseph,
in you we contemplate
the splendour of true love,
to you we turn with trust.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that our families, too,
may be places of communion and prayer,
authentic schools of the Gospel
and small domestic churches.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
may families never again
experience violence, rejection, and division;
may all who have been hurt or scandalized
find ready comfort and healing.

Holy Family of Nazareth,
make us once more mindful
of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,
and its beauty in God’s plan.

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,
graciously hear our prayer.

Amen.                 

JOY IN ACTION

Weekly suggestions for the faithful to consider

April 2:  Read or review Father Mark Nolette’s introduction to “Amoris Laetitia,” found in the March/April issue of Harvest, available online at http://faithdigital.org/harvest/PO0317/

April 9: Make palm leaf crosses together as a family. Plan to attend Holy Week services together.

April 16: Read your children an Easter book or story with a religious theme. As adults, take time to reflect on the Easter proclamation of the Lord’s resurrection: http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/liturgical-year/easter/easter-proclamation-exsultet.cfm

April 23: Celebrate Divine Mercy Sunday with an act of mercy of some kind – visit a relative, donate to a cause, bake something for a neighbor, etc.  If you have children, explain why you are doing it.

April 30:   The celebration of Easter continues for 50 days! Make an Easter craft with your children. One -possibility: make a “stained glass” cross by drawing or cutting out a cross from poster board, then gluing small pieces of different colors of tissue paper to it.  Or make a resurrection garden.  You can find instructions on Pinterest: http://itsafabulouslife.com/easter-diy-craft-make-resurrection-garden/

REFLECTION

Joy of Family
By:  Monsignor Andrew Dubois, Moderator of the Curia & Vicar General

“Joy of family” resounds with our every gathering and continues to resonate during the times when we are apart.  My seven siblings and I have sometimes asked ourselves, “Why is it that we enjoy being together so much?”  We never seem to tire of sharing in each other’s company, whether it’s chatting on the phone for a few minutes every now and again in order to share a bit of good news – or talking for hours when we really want one another’s ideas, opinions, or reflections about the moments and movements of our lives

Like many families, we love coming together for no particular reason, as well as for special occasions.  For example, we gather for the holy days and holidays whenever possible; for sacramental events like baptisms, first Communions, and weddings; and for special events, such as anniversaries or when Mom was named “Mother of the Year.”  But even during the more difficult times that life gives us all, we want to be in each other’s company and to seek each other’s support, solace, and strength.  This was certainly true three short years ago when we surrounded my father’s hospital bed as he prepared for open heart surgery after suffering a heart attack, and yes, it is true even during times that lead up to departures and death of those we cherish. We genuinely value every encounter as a graced and gifted moment.  And if someone can’t quite get away for some event, gathering or reunion, that person is dearly missed.

We love being a family, and we love being with family!  Are we perfect? No! But we do love each other, despite our faults and foibles!  It’s that simple.  Along with the gifts of life and faith, it is the greatest gift my parents, who have been married for nearly 62 years, have shared with all of us, their children.  It was how they raised us, making “family time” both a priority and a pleasure.  Whether it was simply being at the dinner table, praying the rosary and going to Mass, doing household chores and yardwork, picking wild berries and planting the garden, shoveling snow, swimming at Baker Lake, or skating at the local rink, so much of what we did was as family.  It was a joy then … it is a joy now … I have no doubt it will continue to be a joy in the years ahead.