SPARTA Parishioners at Our Lady of the Lake (OLL) here have been getting more acquainted with the importance of making known the joy of realizing God’s plan for building healthy marriages and faith-filled Catholic families — especially to a secular society that continues to move further away from the family and traditional values.
Tonight, OLL presents the third session of “Love Is Our Mission,” a six-part series to help prepare parishioners for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, one of by Pope Francis’ stops during his first visit to the U.S. in September. The parishioners are exploring the 10 major themes to be addressed at the world meeting. Guided by the document, “Love Is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive, a Preparatory Catechesis for the World Meeting of Families,” the gatherings at the Sussex County parish will be held on Thursdays through May 7, from 7-8:30 p.m. in Cassidy Hall.
“Today, the traditional family is in crisis. The culture has become a detriment to the families. There is no sense of commitment. The Church is seen as not allowing people to have fun or express themselves,” said Kathryn Faherty, an OLL catechist, who listed some of societal trends that have been chipping away at the family, including divorce, out-of-wedlock births, pornography and “same-sex” marriage. “God knows us and what we need to bring us joy. If you give yourself totally to the other [your spouse], you can be happy. Today, we need to re-catechize the Church about marriage,” she said.
In addition to the series, OLL has been praying for the success of the world meeting during holy hours, held on last Sundays in the church, after the noon Mass, where they also listen to prayerful reflections on the chapters of the catechetical document. The next holy hour will be held May 31. The parish also distributed cards that bear the Prayer for the World Meeting of Families, Faherty said.
OLL’s series started on April 23 where Faherty, also a former teacher at Pope John XXIII Regional High School, Sparta, covered the chapter, “Created for Joy,” about the fact that God created us to share his joy. That night, Michael Grace, also a parish catechist, explored the chapter, “Our Mission of Love,” which looked at the fact that Catholics have a purpose: to receive God’s love and to show his love to others. These sessions include prayer; catechesis, including Scripture readings; and open discussions on the topic, said Faherty.
“Both presenters made clear God’s love for us. When we love someone [either the Lord or our spouses], we want to do for them,” said Joanna Mattos, OLL’s secretary, who has been attending the series. “There have been lively discussions and husbands have been attending them with their wives.”
Presented by a team of parishioners, the series continued on April 30 with “The Meaning of Human Sexuality” that explored the idea that sexuality has the power to procreate and shares in the dignity of being created in God’s image. Tonight’s session explores “Two Become One,” about the fact that marriage is a uniquely intimate relationship that calls a man and woman to love each other in the manner of God’s covenant, and “Creating a Future,” about marriage being meant to welcome new life.
The second half of the “Love Is Our Mission” series will continue on the following dates:
• May 14 with “All Love Bears Fruit,” about the fact that even the priesthood, religious life and the celibate lay vocation enrich and are enriched by witness to the married state, and “Light in a Dark World,” about the idea that, at its best, the family serves as a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual patience and humility in a world darkened by selfishness and conflict;
• May 21 with “A Home for the Wounded Heart,” about the fact that the Christian family and networks of families should be sources of mercy, safety, friendship and support for those struggling with issues of same-sex attraction and divorce, and “Mother, Teacher, Family,” about the reality that, even when the Church’s people and leaders sin, we still need the Church’s wisdom, Sacraments, support and proclamation of the truth; and
• May 28 with “Choosing Life,” about our mission of love that requires courage and fortitude, and “Where Do We Go from Here?,” a concluding reflection.
Coordinating the “Love Is Our Mission” sessions and the holy hours have been Elizabeth Heldak, religious education director, who introduced the series to the parish, after receiving information about the program from the diocese, and Father Grzegorz Golba, parochial vicar. OLL expects that the world meeting will bring greater attention to these issues of marriage and family, so the parish anticipates presenting the “Love Is Our Mission” series again in the fall. Developed by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the catechetical materials in preparation for the meeting are available online at www.worldmeeting2015.org, Mattos said.
“We are called to acknowledge how beautiful, true and good it is to start a family, to be a family today… We are called to make known God’s magnificent plan for the family… as we accompany them amidst so many difficulties,” Pope Francis said ahead of the September meeting.
Father Golba has been leading the holy hours and has attended “Love Is Our Mission” sessions, which he described as “good in spiritually preparing people.”
“There has been a good response to the holy hours. Parents pray with their children. They know that they can pray to change their families and the world, but first, they must change themselves,” Father Golba said. “The ‘Love Is Our Mission’ series is excellent and has good speakers, who give the people fresh knowledge of God and the faith.”
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