Website editor’s note
“Family Homily” This tab has been added as the home for Fr Martin’s monthly Family Homilies. When you have read Fr Martin’s introduction, click on the blue link above, to read them.
Year of the Family
Pope Francis has proclaimed 2021/22 as a year dedicated to the Family, highlighting ‘the ideal of conjugal and family love’ for each one of us. The Year of the Family began on the Feast of St Joseph (19th March) 2021, which was also the fifth anniversary of the publication of the Pope’s Amoris Laetitia (‘The Joy of Love’), first issued following the Synod on the Family, held in Rome with its final session in the autumn of 2015.
Pope Francis wrote: ‘It is good to reflect that the Son of God wanted to be in need of the warmth of a family, like all children. Precisely for this reason, because it is Jesus’ family, the family of Nazareth is the model family, in which all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration’.
As our own families emerge from the lockdowns imposed by Covid-19, sometimes hampered by ‘post-Covid stress’ symptoms, we need to turn again to the fatherly support offered by Pope Francis, under the patronage of St Joseph:-
‘In imitation of the Holy Family, we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit: it must be founded on the love that always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope’.
The summer holiday was a particularly good time to pray for growing families, with children home from school and looking to parents (and probably others!) for the encouragement and support we all need at the best of times. In our parish, we remember those who work and study in St Benet’s Primary School during term time, in the hope that they can find refreshment both in their studies and in the quieter moments of their lives at home during the year
Our school newsletter still advertises a Family Mass on the first Sunday of every month, when, in the past, we had a music group in which children had a special role. This had to be suspended from March 2020; and we are only just beginning to think about singing the Mass once again, eighteen months and more after the first lockdown. By now, our Family Musicians led by Thomas and Hilary have moved on to pastures new, although they are still available – like all true family members – during the week from time to time. We are so grateful for all the music they have given us over the past ten years; and meanwhile, we are looking at a closer collaboration with members of our Primary School for the preparation of a monthly Family Mass.
When the Priest is asked to provide a ‘child-friendly’ homily for the Family Mass, the answer usually given is: ‘Every Mass is a Family Mass’ – or – ‘We are all God’s children and members of His Family’. On the other hand, we do need to recognise that special times and occasions can demand special treatment. This is certainly true as we come to terms with those Covid restrictions which now seem semi-permanent, even with the lockdown in the past. Partly inspired by Bishop Alan’s recent visit to our parish, here are a few thoughts from Fr Martin about Homilies, particularly in relation to the family Mass:
Notes on the Homily
The Homiletic Directory issued by the Vatican, as a guide for priests and preachers, emphasises that the homily at Mass (as a general rule) focusses upon the Bible readings for the day – to be found in the church Lectionary. These readings need to be seen in the wider contexts of sacred scripture and (of course!) human lives. During the pandemic, I responded to a request from parishioners to post the weekly homily on the parish website – and learned a great deal in the process. As the weeks passed, the homilies took on an ‘academic’ character: they were suitably scriptural .. but (unfortunately) divorced from the life-situations of a majority of our parishioners. I think this was partly because of the isolation in which we were all living at that particular time.
As we adjust (with Hope!) to the ‘post-pandemic’ situation, I shall continue to post the homilies on the website once a month – on ‘Family Mass’ days – to try and illustrate how we adapt our message to our audience. The thinking behind this is that (in theory at least), on Family Mass days, our younger children (pre-First Holy Communion) are likely to be in the church during the homily (instead of in the hall for Children’s Liturgy). The homily needs to be adapted accordingly.
On these Sundays, therefore, I shall post two homilies on the website. The first one will generally be closer to the actual texts of sacred scripture than the second – written (I hope) in direct response to the Word of God. The second one – for the Family Mass – will often respond to the spirit rather than to the letter of the sacred texts; it might possibly be thought of as the ‘better’ homily (written after the first one – with more time spent in reflection and prayer). I guess the results will be more or less debateable! (Many adults will prefer a close reference to messages heard in the readings – and the rest of the Mass – I should think?)
I shall try and post the two homilies, in principle, on the first Sunday of the month – Family Mass day.
To get used to the idea, I began by doing a Family Homily for three of the ‘Bread of Life’ Sundays of August 2021 (Aug 1st, 8th and 22nd ). The Family Mass homilies for those Sundays are reproduced here, and they will be followed by a monthly Family Homily.
Helpful responses, comments and suggestions are always welcome, and I’ll try & make time for them!
Website editor’s note
“Family Homily” This tab has been added as the home for the Fr Martin’s monthly Family Homilies. When you have read Fr Martin’s introduction, click on the blue link above, to read them.