Counting our Blessings is a new scripture-based resource, produced by the Department for Christian Responsibility and Citizenship at the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales, to support parish and school communities as they accompany families on their faith journey.
The word ‘bless’ in the Christian tradition holds within itself the sense of communicating life from God – God sharing life with us. In family life we get glimpses of ‘blessings’ all the time, great and small, active in the joys and struggles of giving and caring for life and facing challenges.
How might families connect their love with this sense of ‘being blessed’, finding God present with them in their lives? Counting our Blessings aims to help create a welcoming space for conversation about things that matter. There are seven stand-alone sessions, each beginning with a ‘real question’ e.g. What’s it like to fall in love? To care for someone who is suffering? To grieve? To feel like an outsider? To be listened to? To feel deeply joyful?
Participants are invited to talk first about their own family experience, followed by hearing God speak into their lives through the Word of God in Scripture, and then to share the ‘blessings’ together and celebrate them in a closing prayer. Counting our Blessings can be used at any number of points where family life intersects with the Church:
• Celebrations of birth/baptism
• Marriage preparation
• Times of illness/bereavement
• Preparation for sacraments
• Points in the RE curriculum
• Chaplaincy settings
• RCIA Journey in Faith
• Parish Family Group meetings
• Lent or Advent reflection
Following are some reflections from participants in a Counting our Blessings Taster Session: Who listens to you when you need to be listened to?
“When it came to the time to share with my partner an experience of really being listened to I was able to talk deeply about my husband who had died just 14 months previously. I hadn’t spoken of this to anyone before and I was able to cry for who and what I had lost. I felt the loss profoundly but also I realised that I had experienced being truly listened to by another who I could also trust with myself.” Elizabeth
“As part of the experience, we read the Emmaus story, one that we all knew really well; but it brought new insights when put alongside our own experience. It’s difficult to put into words, but during the session, we had a sense of the truth – God knows us and loves us; God understands us and our feelings, and draws us closer through one another.” Margaret
“Counting our blessings is something we say but rarely do. This experience was a wonderful opportunity to remember the blessings that I had forgotten to count, and to stop the world for a while and share my blessings with another. In our conversation, we talked about our very different experiences of being listened to – and we discovered ‘gems’ in our story that have formed us and have given us value. The highlight of the session was actually not a particular activity, but gradually realising the importance of the moment – when someone gives you time and listens with respect, warmth and encouragement.” Micki
Counting our Blessings is being launched in England and Wales during the first week of Advent with a four week social media campaign. Counting our Blessings is available to purchase now for £9.99 from Matthew James Publishing Ltd.
For more information please visit our Counting our Blessings webpage, follow us on Twitter at @CatholicMFL, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com, Marriage & Family Life Advisers at the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales.