March 26, 2014
By Father William Muench
During Lent, I will be presenting a Parish Mission at two parishes in the diocese. One of the evenings during the Mission, I plan to follow the theme of Family. Family is important for us as Catholics, so I encourage the people to pray often for family, especially for young families, for broken families, for hurting families.
As a priest, I have had the joy of being a part of many families. I have also learned a great deal from families; they have demonstrated to me just what it means to be family. I have experienced so many happy families, so many loving families and the wonderfully profound effects this has on the children as they grow up.
In addition, I have thought and prayed that a parish should be a family.
Jesus was part of a family. The Son of God came to this earth to be one of us to join our human race. This makes the human race very special and unique. Jesus is one of us – he accepted all that it means to be human. He was born just as all of us were and lived in a family; family life was an important part of his life. The family life of the Holy Family had to be good – this is reflected in Jesus in his public life. Jesus accepted the whole human adventure. Family life is blessed as Jesus was a member of a family.
As we pray for families, I encourage you to pray for the whole idea of family. Our prayer is that our Church will always stand strong for family. We pray that our world and culture will always continue to respect family. Our task as the People of God is to promote family.
The image of a parish as a family can be so perfect. This can start with Sunday Mass. I often encourage people as they walk into Church for Sunday Mass that first of all they look around at all the people in the Church. These people are our family on this day at this Mass. For these are the people who we will be praying with as our family. These are the people who you will be praying for. These are the people who will be praying for us.
This is what families do.
If a stranger were to come into Mass on a particular Sunday, our best message to them would be “welcome – today you are a part of our family – you chose to join us at Mass today. We will be praying with and for you and we hope that you will be praying for us.”
This idea of a parish as a family is very basic to what it means to be a parish, to be part of a parish. This is evident in our deep concern for each other. This ideal unites the people of a parish in a close relationship – united in a readiness to work together to make the world better place.
Can you imagine what this world be like if we could convince the people on our planet that we should all be family. We, humans, are the only ones in this universe. We are the only prisoners on this planet. Why couldn’t we be a family, united together in peace and working together to find happiness?
Okay – I know it is rather improbable – but it does present an interesting dream.