Wasn't the visit of Pope Francis to our nation in September amazing?
The main reason Pope Francis came to the US was to participate in the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. It was an occasion for the Church to celebrate the blessing from God that is "the family". I encourage you to see his address at the Festival of Families when he delivered a message from the heart about the grace and beauty, and ... yes, the struggles... in being a family. You'll be moved because he is encouraging you.
There is another important development beginning now thanks to Pope Francis. our Holy Father has declared a Year of Mercy. This means that we, as Catholics across the world, will be giving particular focus to the gift of God's love and forgiveness during the coming year. The Year of Mercy begins on Dec. 8th with the Pope opening the Holy Door of St. Peter's Basilica in Rome. It will remain open until the Feast of Christ the King on Nov. 20, 2016.
Through the World Meeting of Families and the Year of Mercy our Church sends two messages very much needed in our world today. First, the family is precious to God. It is the most important human institution we have. We must care for the family, collectively and individually. And second, Jesus introduces us to a God who is utterly in love with us and extends his mercy again and again to us beyond any human reason. God desperately wants intimacy with each of us!
I invite you to embrace this message of God's unconditional love and bring it into your home. Embody divine mercy for your children, spouse and extended family and teach about this good news proclaimed in Jesus Christ. But first, take time during this Year of Mercy to quiet yourself and receive God's mercy into your own life. We must have it to give it. And each of us is in constant need of God's healing and strengthening love to be who God calls us to be...for one's family...for the world.
I will be passing on much information and resources on the Year of Mercy throughout the remainder of this program year. Our Family Sessions will be on this theme. An author that I can recommend to you to be a friend and companion on your spiritual journey is Fr. Henri Nouwen. He was a humble, wise and gentle man and a gifted author. His inspired writings will bless you and those in your life.
Finally, I want to thank you for the ways you are a hero. You don't have to be a perfect parent to be a hero. You just have to keep showing up day after day, ready to take up the challenges (the Cross) and give your best to them. The great wisdom of our Catholic faith is not to try to do this alone. There is no reason to. Lean on God and others. Open your heart to God's mercy and each day and most powerfully experienced in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Feed on God's Word and on the greatest gift of Jesus in his Body and Blood, the Eucharist. Take advantage of the Tri-Parish Advent Mission and other eents in the parish this month (see the calendar). And live prayerfully and joyfully, continually conscious of God's nearness and goodness in your life.
Have a blessed Advent and Christmas!,
Kevin Cody, DRE