Pope Francis reminded us in Amoris Laetitia - The Joy of Love that 'The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes. Living in a family makes it hard for us to feign or lie; we cannot hide behind a mask. If that authenticity is inspired by love, then the Lord reigns there, with his joy and his peace. The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures. In that variety of gifts and encounters which deepen communion, God has his dwelling place.'
He also tells us in this document that ‘families are not a problem; they are first and foremost an opportunity’.
With all this in mind let us celebrate family in all its diversity as it is the basic cell in our society.
Setting the scene:
Children can make a paper doll chain of their family and decorate it in class before the liturgy. These can be attached to the wall in the room where the liturgy is to be held. They could also bring a favourite family photo which would be brought up and set up at the altar or table at the time of the Prayers of the Faithful.
Another suggestion would be for children to write a letter or poem of thanks to their parent or parents for all the years of care and nurturing they have been given. These could be put into a basket and set up on the altar or table.
Parents or members of the family could also be invited to take part in the liturgy.
What is Family?
A family is a place to cry and laugh,
and vent frustrations,
to ask for help and tease and yell,
to be touched and hugged and smiled at.
A family is people who care when you are sad,
who love you no matter what,
who share your triumphs,
who don’t expect you to be perfect,
just growing with honesty in your own decision.
A family is a circle
where we learn to make good decisions
where we learn to think before we do,
where we learn integrity and table manner
and respect for other people;
where we are special;
where we listen and are listened to,
where we learn the rules of life
to prepare ourselves for the world.
The World is a place where anything can happen
If we grow up in a loving family,
We will be ready for the world.
Reader: We thank you, Lord, for sending our own incarnate Son, to become part of a family, so that, as he lived his life, he would experience the family’s worries and its joys. We ask you, Lord, to protect and watch over our families so that in the strength of your grace their members may enjoy the priceless gift of your peace, alive in the home. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Welcome to the family.
We're glad that you have come
to share your life with us
as we grow in love. And,
may we always be to you
what God would have us be:
a family, always there,
to be strong and to lean on.
May we learn to love each other
more with each new day;
may words of love be on our lips
in everything we say;
may the Spirit melt our hearts
and teach us how to pray;
that we might be a true family.
(Words from Psalty – Kids Praise 3)
View the music and words on the following YouTube video here
Reader: A reading from the Gospel of Luke, (2:41-51)
The Boy Jesus in the Temple
Now every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the festival of the Passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up as usual for the festival. When the festival was ended and they started to return, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but his parents did not know it. Assuming that he was in the group of travellers, they went a day’s journey. Then they started to look for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they returned to Jerusalem to search for him. After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. And all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents* saw him they were astonished; and his mother said to him, ‘Child, why have you treated us like this? Look, your father and I have been searching for you in great anxiety.’ He said to them, ‘Why were you searching for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?’ But they did not understand what he said to them. Then he went down with them and came to Nazareth, and was obedient to them. His mother treasured all these things in her heart.
The Gospel of the Lord.
All: Praise be to you Lord Jesus Christ.
Reader: Jesus lived with his family and like many of us did the wrong thing by not telling his parents that he had stayed back in Jerusalem when they were on their way home. Mary is the one who approached Jesus asking him why he treated them like he did. Like all parents they were very worried. Often we see our parents as the ogres in our lives especially when they lay down the rules.
A prayer for all mean parents
(You could have a number of readers here)
As a young child, I had the meanest parents in the whole world. They were really mean. When other kids ate lollies for breakfast they made me eat cornflakes, or eggs and toast. When others had soft drink and lollies for lunch, I had to eat a vegemite or ham and cheese sandwich.
They insisted on knowing where we were going at all times. You would have thought we were a chain gang! They insisted they had to know who our friends were and what we were doing. Mum insisted that if we said we would be gone for an hour, we’d be gone for an hour, or else!! She was really mean!
I am ashamed to admit but Mum actually had the nerve to break the child labour laws. She made us work! We had to wash all the dishes, make our beds, learn to cook and all sorts of cruel things. I think she used to lie awake at night thinking up means things to do.
Our parents always insisted on us telling the truth; the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
By the time we were teenagers, they became much wiser and our lives became even more unbearable. None of this tooting the horn of the car for us to come running; they embarrassed us immensely by making our dates and friends come to the door for us. I forgot to mention … while my friends were dating at the mature age of 12 or 13, our old fashioned parents refused to let me date until I was older!
My parents were a complete failure as parents. None of us has ever been arrested, fired from our jobs or had our character questioned and, whom we do have to blame for the terrible way we’ve turned out ...You’re right...God Bless them.
Prayers of the faithful
(Bring up to the altar any letters or prayers that have been written)
Reader: As we celebrate and pray for families, we ask God to give us a generous spirit.
For the leaders of our Church family and the leaders of our country, grant them wisdom and courage as they show us how to be giving and compassionate. Lord hear us.
All: Lord, hear our prayers.
For all our families and friends who give their love and encouragement to us, we thank you. Lord hear us.
All: Lord, hear our prayers.
For all mothers, particularly those who are pregnant, that they may be supported by loved ones and warm friends, and that they may be understood and blessed. Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
For all Fathers or Guardians, particularly those who are young or troubled, that through the intercession of St Joseph, they might be able to love and care for their families. Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
For all grandparents, Aunties and Uncles, that they may be blessed with a generosity of spirit and action and to continue to love us unconditionally. Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer.
For those of us who may have lost a parents or guardian, we pray for eternal rest for them. Lord hear us.
All: Lord hear our prayer
Leader: God of family, God of love, forgive us for those times when we have forgotten how much we are loved by you, and how important a part we, as children, play in in our families. Forgive us for the times we take our families for granted.
Blessings for parents and guardians
Reader: Almighty God, You know what it is like to be both Mother and Father to us all. We ask You, the source and sustainer of all life, to bless all parents and guardians in the role you have set before them.
Gift their lips with the wisdom to speak the truth so it can be heard.
Gift their ears with sensitivity as they listen to the needs of us, their children.
Gift their souls with a faith radiating your intimate presence in their life.
Gift their minds with patience and understanding to handle the changing needs and demands placed before them each day.
Guide their hearts as they seek out and reconcile the areas of conflict and pain that may exist.
Through all these things, may your abundant blessings continue to affirm and support all they do as parents and guardians. We ask this blessing upon each of them, in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
Photo: Kat Grigg; Flickr CreativeCommons license