Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
During the Christmas season each year, the Church puts before us the image of the Holy Family of Nazareth for our reflection and imitation. The Feast of the Holy Family is a reminder that our own family, despite its imperfections, continues to be the first school of love and life of its members, no less than the Holy Family of Nazareth. It is also an opportunity to give thanks for all that we give and receive within the family.
This year, the Feast of the Holy Family takes on an added significance. Last October you will recall, Pope Francis met with Bishops and other delegates from around the world for the Synod on the Family, when they reflected together on the theme of “Pastoral Challenges to the Family in the context of Evangelisation”. If you followed the event you will know that there was a lively debate! Pope Francis and the Synod Fathers faced “head-on” some of the most difficult and contentious issues facing marriage and family today as well as re-affirming the gift of marriage and family for the Church and society.
Next October, Pope Francis will meet with delegates once again for the second Synod when the focus will be on the theme: “The Vocation and Mission of the Family in the Church and in the Contemporary World”. During this time between the two Synods, Pope Francis has asked us to spend some time reflecting on this theme. Speaking at the end of the Synod last October, he said:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, now we still have more than one year to mature, with some spiritual discernment, the proposed ideas and find concrete solutions to so many difficulties and innumerable challenges that families must confront; to give answers to the many discouragements that surround and suffocate families.
The Catholic Bishops of England and Wales have produced a document to help in this process of listening and reflecting “with spiritual discernment”. I commend it to you. Details of how to obtain the document are in your parish bulletin this weekend. Any feedback on the document should be given to your Parish Priest or Parish Representative. They will then be forwarded on to Susan Tym who has very kindly agreed to collate the responses. Any responses need to be with the General Secretary of Bishops’ Conference by Trinity Sunday, to help inform Cardinal Nichols and Bishop Peter Doyle who will be attending the Synod as delegates of the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.
I hope that during the period between Christmas and New Year you continue to enjoy “quality time” with your family and I pray that the New Year will be rich in blessings for you and those close to you.
Yours sincerely in Christ, the Redeemer.