“‘During the prayer vigil held in St Peter’s Square on 4 October 2014 in preparation for the Synod on the family, Pope Francis evoked the centrality of the experience of family in all lives, in a simple and concrete manner: “Evening falls on our assembly. It is the hour at which one willingly returns home to meet at the same table, in the depth of affection, of the good that has been done and received, of the encounters which warm the heart and make it grow, good wine which hastens the unending feast in the days of man. It is also the weightiest hour for one who finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and broken plans; how many people trudge through the day in the blind alley of resignation, of abandonment, even resentment: in how many homes the wine of joy has been less plentiful, and therefore, also the zest — the very wisdom — for life […]. Let us make our prayer heard for one another this evening, a prayer for all”.
Family is important to everyone, or at least ought to important to everyone. When I read this opening paragraph I thought of all the wounded families that I have encountered as a priest. Parents who wonder why their children have left the faith. About couples trying to make sense of a 25 year marriage that ended in divorce. The pain of couples who are unable to have children. Families that have the scars of physical, sexual and emotional abuse. One author said, “we choice our friends God choices our family.” We are called to love our families first. We don’t need to go into the city to discover the world. The joys, sorrows, and pains of the world are in our own families. It is in our families that we first learn how to love.
There is great hope. Jesus looks with love at our wounded families. His grace, love and mercy are meant to shine in the darkness.
In my room, I have thousands of families trees that people have sent me from all over the world. When I have a free mass intention. I often offer the mass for these souls from these families trees. My feeling is that when we ask God to touch and heal the deceased members of our family. The present is also touched and healed.
One way to respond to the reality of the wounds that we find in many families is for the Church to become a true community of love, mercy and healing. Everyone wants to feel loved and to love. May the Church be the place where everyone can experience the love of God.