PSALMS AND EVENING PRAYER CELEBRATION OF WMOF IN CATHEDRAL 21.8.18
Joining with Eleanor of our Pastoral Council, with the Administrator Fr. Pat Farragher and Fr. Seán Flynn, I welcome you all on this special occasion as we mark the official opening of the celebration of WMOF here in our Cathedral. Our evening prayer is a gathering ceremony which helps us to focus on the theme of Family
We can see that the family theme is central to our liturgy, as is evidenced in the short phrases which introduce and conclude the psalms. ‘Jesus going down with Mary & Joseph to Nazareth, living under their authority and Jesus growing up advancing in wisdom and favour with God and people’.
The introduction (Antiphon) to the 1st Psalm 121 (122) we pray this evening is something with which all families can identify as we witness the transition from childhood to adulthood, Jesus going his own way in Jerusalem. This involves pain for the family. We are familiar with the misunderstandings between parents and children which reflect adolescent impatience with parental concerns. As every parent will understand one of the developmental tasks of childhood, teenage years and young adulthood is discovering and affirming identity. As Christians our identity is defined by our relationship with Jesus Christ.
This has huge implications for our immediate family, the extended family, the neighbourhood, Church and society.
As we celebrate the WMOF we have an opportunity to examine our conscience in all of these areas. What kind of society do I wish to create? Where do I locate the dignity of the other person, is it in status, possessions or power. What kind of society do I hope to hand on to the future? Will there be room for those who are struggling and are deprived? Our answer to these questions will provide us with an insight into where God features in our lives.
As individuals and families we all experience at one time or another the excitement generated by a team, a victory, a family celebration. The first psalm that we pray this evening captures the pilgrim who is drawn into the excitement of the pilgrimage group as they catch a glimpse of the Holy City of Jerusalem in the distance.
Psalm 126 (127) In our contemporary culture we frequently live under the illusion of being self-sufficient and in our self-confidence the temptation is to push God out to the verges of life. This psalm and indeed the WMOF challenges each family to reconsider its values and its source of strength and continuity, and to reflect on the importance of faith and our relationship with God.
The canticle from the letter to the Ephesians 1 reminds us that God’s plan is to unite all things in Jesus Christ. In a very special way the family is a means towards realising the plan of God. The family is the seedbed of society and of the future. Wherever the family is weakened, then society suffers.
As followers of Jesus Christ we have been gifted with privileges but we have corresponding responsibilities. The reading from the Letter to the Colossians reminds us of this fact. Qualities like patience, forgiveness and love, must find expression in addressing questions like why do some people feel deprived of hope? How do we develop a society that serves all and not just the privileged. As a people we are urged to be appreciative for what others do for us and what the Lord has done in Jesus Christ. in other words the Christian life must be a Eucharist, a thanksgiving to God the Father through Christ
As we celebrate the WMOF we thank God for family life, for the values that are lived and cherished, families that are struggling with difficulty, misunderstanding, for families where there is hurt and no forgiveness. In the family of God, which is the Church, we remember those who have had bad experiences, those who were abused by priests and deprived of childhood in institutions. They were let down by a Church that ought to have brought compassion and healing but instead compounded the
harm and hurt. For them the Church is no longer the Church of Jesus Christ and they feel disillusioned.
As Pope Francis said in his letter to the Catholics of the world “It is essential that we, as a Church, be able to acknowledge and condemn, with sorrow and shame, the atrocities perpetrated by consecrated persons, clerics, and all those entrusted with the mission of watching over and caring for those most vulnerable”
We remember all who have been hurt and disillusioned and we ask forgiveness for all who caused the hurt. We pray for our own families, for all the families represented here in our Cathedral this evening, for the success of the World Meeting of Families and for all families.