Each year on the Feast of the Holy Family many of our Bishops write pastoral letters. Here are some extracts from the letters written this year.
The Extended Family
“Putting children at the heart of Christmas automatically pushes the focus of the celebration onto families, and this is a very narrow focus. What about the other end of the spectrum of life, an older generation who very often are made to feel part of family celebrations, but not always, because they’re difficult and they’ll spoil things? What about people who do not have families and may be spending these days alone? Is Christmas not about them too? In fact, is it not possibly more about them, and including them? Our own western society has a very limited image of family. It tends to present it as just two generations and in terms of parents and the number of children they have. If someone were to ask you, “How many are in your family?” would you think to include grandparents, cousins, aunts and uncles? They are actually family, and if you do what they call a ‘family tree’ you can see this quite clearly.” Rt Rev Kieran Conry, Diocese of Arundel & Brighton.
A Place of Welcome
“The example of the Holy Family and their experiences of misunderstanding and rejection remind us of the need for understanding and compassion – especially for those who have experienced a break-down of family life or who may have become estranged from their closest relatives. The family of the parish must always offer a place of welcome for those who no longer find themselves in stable or conventional family situations. As a New Year beckons we should be slow to judge and quick to embrace those who are afraid to cross the threshold of the Church because they fear they are not perfect. It was surely his own experience of family life that enabled our Lord to see that it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick
.” Archbishop Bernard Longley, Archdiocese of Birmingham. Read more…
Care for the Wounded
“The Feast of the Holy Family is a time to celebrate our family life but it is also a time to be aware of those families who struggle in life. We may not have personally encountered refugee families but I am sure we know families where relationships have broken down and people have been hurt. Often in response to the hurt, people begin to doubt whether they can ever again trust anyone. Their response to life can be aggressive as a means of defence. If the message of Christ, in all its richness finds a home within us, we cannot be indifferent or ignore the hurt of others. The Gospel message is: You must love one another as I have loved you. Jesus came as Saviour of the World but his message and his presence was particularly directed to those who are wounded in life so as to give them hope and restore their dignity.” Rt Rev Declan Lang, Diocese of Clifton. Read more…
The Holiness of New Beginnings
In the celebration of Baptism, we pray that parents will be the first and best teachers of their child in the ways of faith. It is within this environment in which we hope to receive in our family homes the love, support, affirmation and sense of belonging that will nourish and cherish us into the fullness of life.The holiness of the home is not always going to be the tidy, well-ordered and seemingly ideal family for whom everything appears to be perfect and harmonious. Instead, holiness is to be found in the ordinariness, messiness and even brokenness of Family Life where we experience disagreements, arguments and even heartbreak. Holiness is to be found in the failures, the forgiveness and reconciliation, and the many new beginnings. Rt Rev Seamus Cunningham, Diocese of Hexham & Newcastle Read more
An Expression of God’s Love
“I am well aware that living according to the teaching of the Church, which is rooted in that of Christ himself, on matters to do with relationships and marriage is not simple. But I also know that, by God’s grace and with the love that is deep within a family, it is possible to live the Christian life, because that love which we share with one another is an expression of God’s love for us. As we look forward to 2014, my prayer is that the work of the Synod will give all of us new inspiration as to how we can support and enrich family life.” Rt Rev Malcolm McMahon, Diocese of Nottingham
. Read more…