by Fr Duncan McVicar on 03/05/2015 -
Imagine the scene. In the year 1865, a priest, Father Petitjean, celebrated Mass in an impoverished chapel at the foot of a mountain in Nagasaki. He was the first missionary for 300 years to set foot in Japan. After Mass the people, who had gathered, approached him suspiciously. The asked him lots of questions to find out if he was genuine or not, if he was a “real” Catholic. The asked him about the Pope, about the celibacy of priests and about Mary. Calmed down by this answers, they slowly convinced themselves that they were speaking to a priest. “For three hundred years we’ve been waiting for you, so that you can baptize us”, they said, “we believe in Jesus”. For such a long time there had been no priest or contact with the Church, there had been no official teaching of the faith or sacraments. Yet a group of people maintained their faith intact, how? Through the family! From generation to generation the values and truth of our faith were passed on. The Christian Family has always been the place for evangelisation and it has always had the mission to evangelize others at the same time. Believing in the Family, in spite of all the knocks it receives today – that is the greatest force of renewal of our times. In the renewal of Family Life, we look at a very special person for help and for guidance. The Church calls Mary, the Queen of the Family, because she is an expert in Family life. Mary knew the “ins and outs” of family life. She represents every woman and mother and she says “yes” to her child. Mary never doubted even for an instant that it is worthwhile to bring that new life, this child, into the world, even in a world that is full of pain, uncertainty and death. Some women today find it hard “just to be a mother” . Mary is a lasting example that motherhood in itself is the greatest task that a human being can take upon themselves. She accepted her motherhood with all the limitations and restrictions that it included. She did this out of love. Indeed, Mary loved a great deal. She loved Joseph and she built with him a community of life and love in that home of Nazareth. They both chose the one and the same aim for their married life together: To serve their Son and his work and mission in the world. Without doubt, we may call Mary, the Queen of the Family, a Mother who educates. She wants to build Nazareth and the experience of Nazareth everywhere. That will always be Mary’s mission even today: To support and help all families, that they in their turn, can become a Holy Family of Nazareth. The present and tomorrow of evangelization depends a great deal on the family. As long as the family is the foundation and crown of Church and society, Mary’s role will never diminish, but be put at the heart of modern Church and spiritual life. This is “Mary’s Hour” in her task to renew family life and to renew Church life through the family. Together with Mary, the Queen of the Family, we have enough reason to be confident and full of hope as we build together a new world for God.