Faith in the family

Faith in the family

I had checked the readings for the Thirty First Sunday in Ordinary Time and it was the psalm which caught my attention. It was beautiful and I decided it would be a good basis for writing. Then today, as I sat down to write, I realised that we won’t have those readings because it is in fact the Feast of All Saints this coming Sunday. That psalm is still echoing in my heart however and so, I’ve decided I need to share it with you anyway. Here it is in full:

O Lord, my heart is not proud, nor haughty my eyes.

I have not gone after things too great nor marvels beyond me.

Truly I have set my soul in silence and peace.

A weaned child on its mother’s breast, even so is my soul.

O Israel, hope in the Lord both now and forever. (Psalm 130)

Read that through a couple of times, slowly. Is there a word or a line, maybe an image which stands out for you? For me, it is that image of setting my soul in silence and peace, a weaned child on my mother’s breast. I remember when ours were babies, when my life seemed to revolve around breastfeeding them. I remember the little cross-eyed, drunk with contentment, sleepy smile on their wee faces after a good feed and how wonderful it felt to hold them while they drifted off into sleep. That remembering leads me into prayer.

At a time when yet again we are living in lockdown I find it very powerful and nurturing to imagine entrusting myself to God in this way. I am aware of a deep need for silence and peace. And I’m even more aware that I can’t create these for myself, I need that sense of hoping in God, entrusting myself to God.

As Catholics we are nourished by the Eucharist but we can also be nourished by scripture. Indeed this is something which Bishop Mario Grech, new secretary to the synod of bishops talked about in a recent interview. He points out that during this pandemic, there is an opportunity for renewal. Instead of focusing on the ways we cannot currently worship we need to explore what we can do. He suggests: “We have forgotten the richness and variety of experiences that help us to contemplate the face of Christ. Some have even said that the life of the Church has been interrupted! And this is truly incredible. In the situation that prevented the celebration of the sacraments, we did not realise that there were other ways in which to experience God.”

Bishop Grech suggests “the family should be an environment where faith can be celebrated, meditated upon and lived. It is the duty of the parish community to help the family to be a school of catechesis and a liturgical space where bread can be broken on the kitchen table”. Indeed many parishes and dioceses could do with reflecting honestly on the question: “To what extent have we empowered families to live their faith vibrantly?” The creation of a dependency culture within the Church has become all too clear over these months.

Bishop Grech invites us to bring the Gospel back centre stage, to pray with scripture, to reflect on how we are living love within our own families and communities, how we are bringing the Gospel to life. I think Bishop Grech is right when he suggests that the more clerically focused the Church became the more we lost sight of the domestic Church. However if faith is not alive in families how can it be alive in the wider Church? As he says: “The domestic Church is the key that opens horizons of hope!”

So yes, it is challenging and painful that we are unable to gather to celebrate the Eucharist but we need to reflect and act upon what is possible and reawakening the domestic Church is vital.

Praying with the daily or Sunday readings draws us into the Liturgy of the Word. Let the Word of God be a lens through which to reflect on life. Let the Holy Spirit animate your domestic Church.