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Family Synod ’14 – “Inventive Charity” and Three Hopes for the Family


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 11/10/2014

What’s going on in the Synod? Here are some of the things you can hear: Participants spoke about the need for the Church to listen more to laypeople in the search for solutions to the problems of families, especially in relation to the sphere of intimacy in the life of couples. There is also the need to adequately and permanently prepare priests in relation to themes regarding the family, especially in relation to openness to life, so that they are able to explain and speak naturally and clearly about conjugal love. It was also noted that if natural family planning is explained in depth, highlighting its positive worth, it can strengthen the life of the couple. The various comments shed light on the importance of testimony: the young do not need theory, but they clearly understand the centrality of the family if it is demonstrated by families themselves, credible witnesses and subjects of evangelisation. A couple gave a wonderful testimony – Olivier and Xristilla Roussy from France. Amongst other things, they said: “After the arrival of our third child, Xristilla was exhausted. So we decided that Xristilla should take a contraceptive pill for some months. The choice of contraception was supposed to calm us down; it had the opposite effect. We lived that period very badly. Xristilla was often in a bad mood, desire was absent and joy disappeared. In truth, we had the impression of no longer being ourselves. We were not united. We understood that we had closed a door to the Lord in our conjugal life. So we decided to take up again Natural Family Planning. It was seemingly a more difficult way that invited us to be continent during fertile periods at the same time that we desired more strongly to unite ourselves. It is often hard to accept and to choose it each time. However, we live it together. It is a joint adventure that pushes us to want the happiness of the other. Much more than a method, this way of life enables us to receive one another each day, to communicate, to know one another, to await one another, to have confidence, to be delicate. We chose this way, we do not suffer it, and we are profoundly happy despite the efforts it requires… We are very happy that God is at the heart of our life, including our conjugal intimacy. We decided to live it under His gaze. This availability opens us to the will of God in all the dimensions of our life. In our mission as parents, we want first of all to awaken our children to holiness. Like all of us, they are faced with the many temptations of the world and, humbly, we try to make them grow up in liberty and generosity, to have them learn a sense of discernment, of decision and of effort. We help them to build their plan of life under God’s gaze. In the difficult pace of modern life, we seek to be attentive to each one and to give them sufficient time, together and personally. By simple and direct testimonies, and concrete teachings, we propose an art of Christian living, showing that sexuality and fertility can be lived in God’s plan and not in the consumerist and egoistic logic of the world. With audacity and charity, accepting the pastoral law of gradualness, we propose to each one to walk towards Christ, according to the step they can take each day. The love of Christ urges us on the path of an inventive charity. Hospitality, accompaniment and fraternal life: are these not today the essential keys for the evangelization of families? Archbishop Kurtz, Head of US Bishops, expressed his three hopes for the future: “My three hopes: one of them is to restore confidence that people can be be successful in having a fruitful marriage and having a wonderful family, and not be, in a sense, at the mercy of statistics. People yearn for that sense of hope. It’s a sign that the grace of Christ is alive. My second one is my hope that the beauty of the teachings of Christ, as conveyed over the centuries by the Church, will be given a new hearing. It’s not so much we want to explain. We want to show. And people, they don’t want long explanations, but they want to be shown especially by example, and so whether it is in art and architecture or newspaper counts or the beauty of the sacraments, people want to be inspired. By the beauty of the Church and the beauty of love, of love and marriage, and in the family, and love in friendships. And then my third would be something that I know is very dear to the heart of Pope Francis and that is we accompany people, who are struggling. Every one of us is in a family that struggles. Everyone needs that sense of accompanying them and helping them in what I would call the process of conversion. So those are my three hopes.”

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Family Synod ’14 – Jesus met individuals not general cases


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 11/10/2014

What’s going on in the Synod? Here are some of the things you can hear: Each person is an individual person, Jesus didn’t meet general cases, he met and addressed individuals. The Synod is stressing the need for language “which invites, rather than repels” and for support groups, including for those with a homosexual orientation. The Church is the house of the Father, and must therefore offer patient accompaniment to all people, including those who find themselves in difficult pastoral situations. The Catholic Church encompasses healthy families and families in crisis, and therefore in her daily effort of sanctification must not show indifference in relation to weakness, as patience implies actively helping the weakest. It was strongly emphasised that an attitude of respect must be adopted in relation to divorced and remarried persons, as they often live in situations of unease or social injustice, suffer in silence and in many cases seek a gradual path to fuller participation in ecclesial life. Pastoral care must not therefore be repressive, but full of mercy. Attention returned to the need for greater preparation for marriage, especially among the young, to whom the beauty of sacramental union must be presented, along with an adequate emotional education that is not merely a moralistic exhortation that risks generating a sort of religious and human illiteracy. The path to marriage must involve a true growth of the person. The debate turned to the issue of the responsibility of parents in educating their children in faith and in the teachings it offers: such responsibility is primordial, it was said, and it is important to pay it suitable attention. With regard to children, the negative impact of contraception on society and resulting decline in the birth rate was underlined. It was remarked that Catholics should not remain silent in relation to this issue, but should instead bring a message of hope: children are important, they bring life and joy to their parents, and they reinforce faith and religious practices. The testimony of the couple Stephen and Sandra Conway who run marriage support groups in South Africa included this: “Our programme looks at the four stages of marriage – romance, disillusionment, misery and joy. Some couples get stuck between the stages of disillusionment and misery. It is in the misery stage that many throw in the towel. It is our aim to equip couples with tools and techniques to get to the joy stage of marriage – where the emphasis is on US as opposed to the ME or I attitude found in the single married lifestyle. We explain that love is a decision, not a feeling; as is trust and forgiveness. We also encourage forgiveness setting the hurt party free. We use the Parable of the Prodigal Son to show that just as the Father forgave his Son, we too can forgive ourselves and each other the hurts of the past – we can come back to the Father’s house – the church and our homes. We can be the forgiving Father, by making the decision to forgive. We can also be the forgiven Son, by receiving forgiveness offered by our hurting spouse. Children are greatly affected by an unhappy marriage. We have a few teachers on our team – they often share on the pain and hurt shown in the children of separated, divorced or unhappy marriages. We emphasise that the best gift couples can give their children is to decide to love each other; to put their marriage first; and to stand united in all decision involving the children. It inspires us when we receive letters from children, after their parents have completed our programme, and thank us for their new Mum and Dad.”

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Follow the Schoenstatt Jubilee Celebrations on EWTN


by Fr. Bryan Cunningham on 10/10/2014

Centenary Flag

Schoenstatt celebrates 100 years and the whole world can witness it! The jubilee pilgrimage will be broadcasted throughout the world by our associated media Domradio.de, Schoenstatt-TV, the catholic television channel EWTN and the Brazilian channel Canção Nova. So you don’t miss it, we present the answers to some frequently asked questions about the topic “Live broadcast.”

  1. Which Schoenstatt events will be broadcast live and at what time?The 4 main celebrations in the pilgrim arena will be broadcasted. They are:The welcome celebration on October 16th (4PM-6PM), the vigil on October 17th (6PM-8PM), the solemn Holy Mass on October 18th (9AM-11AM) and the renewal of the Covenant of Love – also on October 18th (3:30PM-5:30PM). Additionally, other events will be broadcast on Internet.
  2. Can I watch the events taking place in Rome?The Vatican channel, CTV, will broadcast the audience with the Pope on October 25th. The sendoff Holy Mass on October 26th will also be broadcasted. Additionally, other events will be broadcast on Internet.Details about the broadcast from Rome will be announced later.
  3. I will follow the broadcast from home. What time will they be broadcast in my country?
  4. The times given above are the Times of live-transmission in the UK.
  5. Where can I watch the broadcasts?There are several possibilities to follow the broadcasts.Internet – Live stream
    Through our associated media, Domradio: The broadcast will not have commentary. To follow from their website, visit www.domradio.de

    Through the EWTN website: http://www.ewtn.com/multimedia/live.asp . You can also download their application for your cell phone and/or tablet.

    You can also visit the website of Schoenstatt-TV: www.schoenstatt-tv.de. You can find the programming in English by clicking here.

    Television

    The catholic cable television channel, EWTN, will broadcast the events live in several languages: English, Spanish, and German.

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Family Synod ’14 – Family is a Gift from God


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 10/10/2014

Here are some of the highlights you can hear at the Family Synod: The Synod went on to reflect on the indispensable contribution of the lay faithful to the proclamation of the Gospel in the family: in particular, the young, ecclesial movements and new communities provide a service of vital importance, carrying out a prophetic mission that runs counter to the current of our times. Listening and believing in the laity, therefore, is shown to be essential, as it is in them and with them that the Church may find the answers to the problems of the family. The link between the crisis of faith and the crisis of the family was underlined: it was said that the first generates the second. This is because faith is seen mostly as a set of doctrinal mores, whereas it is primarily a free act by which one entrusts oneself to God. Furthermore, the weakness of the faith of many baptised persons was underlined; this often leads to the marriage of couples who are not appropriately aware of what they are undertaking. Another great challenge facing families today was mentioned: that of the “dictatorship of unitary thought” that aims to introduce into society those counter-values that distort the vision of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The crisis of values, atheist secularism, hedonism, and the ambition of power destroy families today, distorting it, weakening people and consequently rendering society fragile. It is therefore important to recover in the faithful the awareness of belonging to the Church, as the Church grows by attraction and the families of the Church attract other families. For its part, the Church, an expert in humanity, must underline the beauty and the need everyone has for the family, as it is indispensable. Mention was also made of the link between priests and families: they accompany families in all the most important stages of their lives, sharing in their joys and difficulties; families, in turn, help priests to experience celibacy as a full and balanced emotional life, rather than as a sacrifice. In addition, the family was defined as the “cradle of vocations” as it is precisely within the domestic walls, in common prayer, that the call to the priesthood is frequently heard. Christian marriage cannot be seen solely as a cultural tradition or a social need, but rather must be understood as a vocational decision, undertaken with suitable preparation that cannot be improvised in a few meetings, but must be carried out over a period of time. (more…)

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Family Synod ’14 – Family is the Cradle of Everything


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 09/10/2014

The Synod begins with the testimony of a married couple: Here is what you could hear from the testimony of Ron (Romano) and Mavis Pirola from Sydney, Australia: “Here we are, 55 years married and still in love. As each of our four children arrived, it was an exhilarating joy for which we still thank the Lord daily. Of course, the complexities of parenting had great rewards and challenges. There were nights when we would lie awake wondering where we had gone wrong. Our faith in Jesus was important to us. We went to Mass together and looked to the Church for guidance. Occasionally we looked at Church documents but they seemed to be from another planet with difficult language and not terribly relevant to our own experiences. Gradually, we came to see that the only feature that distinguishes our sacramental relationship from that of any other good Christ-centred relationship is sexual intimacy and that marriage is a sexual sacrament with its fullest expression in sexual intercourse. We believe that until married couples come to reverence sexual union as an essential part of their spirituality it is extremely hard to appreciate the beauty of teachings such as those of Humanae Vitae. We need new ways and relatable language to touch peoples’ hearts. As the Instrumentum laboris suggests, the domestic church has much to offer the wider Church in its evangelizing role.4 For example, the Church constantly faces the tension of upholding the truth while expressing compassion and mercy. Families face this tension all the time. Yes, family life is ‘messy’. But so is parish, which is the ‘family of families’. One question is how ‘the clergy [could] be better prepared … in … presenting the documents of the Church on marriage and the family’. Again, one way could be by learning from the domestic church. As Pope Benedict XVI said, ‘This demands a change in mindset, particularly concerning lay people. They must no longer be viewed as “collaborators” of the clergy but truly recognized as “co-responsible”, for the Church’s being and action’. That would also require a major attitudinal change for laity. We have eight wonderful, unique grandchildren. We pray for them by name daily because daily they are exposed to the distorted messages of modern society, even as they walk down the street to school such messages are on billboards or appear on their smartphones…” This is what you could hear from a Brazilian Couple who spoke on the role of Movements in married life. They were asked: What is the secret to be victorious in matrimonial and family life? Is it to take part in an ecclesial Movement? “To live daily as a married couple and as a family is not an easy task in this secularized world of ours. We have thorns and difficulties to be overcome every day. Prayer in the family and as married couples, and the practice of conversing, of dialoguing frankly on all matters of the family foster the building of a solid and fecund home. And in our case in particular, taking part in an ecclesial Movement helped us a lot, therefore we believe that it will help the great majority of married couples… The family is the cradle of everything. As a general rule, to cultivate a good family, where honest and mature relations are lived, strengthens the human being a lot. De-structured families tend to generate de-structured children. And those that are well formed tend to be the winners in the world, in all the areas of performance.”

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Family Synod ’14 – Gospel of the Family means Compassion


by Fr Duncan McVicar on 08/10/2014

What’s going on? Here are some of the highlights you can hear at the Synod for the Family in Rome: The Oct. 5-19 meeting is being held on the topic “The Pastoral Challenges on the Family in the Context of Evangelization.” The Synod has 253 participants: 2 from Africa, 38 from America, 29 from Asia, 78 from Europe and 4 from Oceania. During the course of the conference, the speakers agreed that Church leaders must truly listen to their people, be genuine, seek consensus, and discern new ways of supporting the family and the life of the family. In the face of many contemporary difficulties, there is a need for mercy. The Gospel of the family offers itself as a remedy, a “true medicine”. Not doctrinal, but rather practical questions – inseparable from the truths of faith – are in discussion in this Synod. This leads to the need for greater formation, above all for engaged couples, so that they are clearly aware both of the sacramental dignity of marriage, based on “uniqueness, fidelity and fruitfulness,” and of its nature as “in institution in society”. Every family is a “school of humanity” and “a new culture of the family can be the starting point for a renewed human civilization.” The Synod will try and support couples in difficult marital conditions; the Church is the “House of the Father.” A “renewed and adequate action of family pastoral” is necessary, in particular to enable couples to feel loved by God and the Parish community, from a merciful perspective that does not, however, cancel out “truth and justice.” “Consequently, mercy does not take away the commitments which arise from the demands of the marriage bond,” the report explains, adding, “They will continue to exist even when human love is weakened or has ceased. This means that, in the case of a (consummated) sacramental marriage, after a divorce, a second marriage recognized by the Church is impossible, while the first spouse is still alive.” The Synod focuses on the Gospel of life: existence is from conception to natural death. “Openness to life is an essential part and intrinsic need of conjugal love. Stressing the importance of accompanying and supporting families in their everyday journey, the Synod says, “Family tragedies are often the result of desperation, loneliness and a painful cry which no one knew how to discern”. In order to overcome any “privatization of love” which empties the family of meaning and instead entrusts it to individual choice, it is therefore important to rediscover a sense of widespread and concrete solidarity. To achieve this, it is necessary to create conditions which are favourable to welcoming a child and for caring for the elderly as social assets to be protected and promoted. Moreover, the Church should devote herself in a special way to education in love and sexuality, explaining its value and avoiding banalization and superficiality. The challenge for this Synod, is to try to bring to today’s world, while taking into account the complexity of society, “the attractiveness of the Christian message” about marriage and the family and giving answers that are true and full of charity”, because “the world needs Christ.” The wise words of Pope Francis are applicable here: “If something should rightly disturb us and trouble our consciences, it is the fact that so many of our brothers and sisters are living without the strength, light and consolation born of friendship with Jesus Christ, without a community of faith to support them, without meaning and a goal in life” (Evangelii gaudium, 49).

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