March 30. William realised that in his confirmation class there were many different types of family situations. He heard from the young people that many did not seem to have a strong faith life or regular prayer and practice of their religion. As a Lenten suggestion he gave out a small booklet of Stations of the Cross and issued an invitation to parents too to use this in their homes, to reflect and to talk amongst themselves.
The Lord said, I desire mercy not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:1-6. Pope Francis: The first announcement or kerygma needs to be the centre of all evangelising activity and all efforts at Church renewal. ‘Jesus Christ loves you, he gave his life to save you and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you. EG 164
March 31. Sunday Lent 4C. Saved by the love of the Father. Deacon Paul told the congregation, “Let us put the story of the Prodigal Son into a modern day context and see what we can learn. Luke 15:1-3,11-32.
“Jose Manuel had come from Madeira with practically nothing but some sound words of advice from his mother. “Find yourself a good girl who will be a good mother to your children and when you’re in trouble pray to the Virgin.” He had been lucky that an uncle was able to help him get a job and being hardworking he was soon earning good money and could impress the girls. He did marry a good girl who bore him three daughters and, after much prayer to the Virgin, finally a son. His bottle-store business was going well and he had become a rich and influential man in the community. He doted on the boy Paolo and gave him everything he wanted, but seldom took notice of his Maria and their daughters who came to resent their spoilt little brother. At high school Paolo started getting into trouble. There were plenty of friends to help him spend his money. They introduced him to alcohol and drugs and of course girls. At first his father refused to listen and would brush Maria aside when she and the girls tried to talk to him. After Paolo was arrested for drunken driving and Jose had to bail him out for the second time, he was very angry and gave the boy an ultimatum.“Get your life together or leave home,” he shouted, never thinking that would happen. but it did. Arrogantly Paolo chose to leave home, demanded his inheritance and left town.
Jose Manuel was shattered. At first he was angry and stormed around the store and house yelling at everyone. Then he became withdrawn and would sit by the window looking down the road. The daughters took over running the business. At times Jose ranted and raved, at times he even cried but always he blamed everyone else.
Days, weeks and months passed. Paolo had secretly been in touch with his mother, sent cards and even sometimes asked her for money. She tried to talk to his father but he refused to listen. She started a novena to the Virgin Mary and left pictures of Paolo around the house.
One night Jose had a dream, seeing young Paolo playing his first soccer match and scoring his first goal. When the team lost the match, the boy came running to his dad in tears. Jose hugged him saying, “Don’t worry son I’ll always be there for you.” The next morning he asked Maria, “Do you know where Paolo is? Do you think he needs me?” “But of course, Papa” Paolo’s mother said, “He and you have always needed each other but sometimes you are both too proud. Why don’t you call him and ask him to come home for Easter.”
He picked up the phone. “Hi dad,” came the reply, “I was just about to call you. I’m sorry to hear you haven’t been too well. I really would like to come home for Easter. Is that OK with you?”
Deacon concluded the story, “Is it possible that behind every forgiving father is a manipulative, concerned, never-letting-go, determined-to-make-peace mother? Could we maybe even say that mercy is one of the feminine qualities of God? Where do you most experience mercy in your families? ”
Pope Francis. Mary is able to recognise the traces of God’s Spirit in events great and small. She is the woman of prayer and work, and also Our Lady of Help and of service to others. This interplay of justice and tenderness, of contemplation and concern makes her a model for evangelisation. EG 288
APRIL THEME: GOD MATTERS.
With a focus on the theme “God Matters” we are more aware of faith and life with God, lived out in our human, family lives. After weeks of penitence and sacrifice the Easter season in the middle of the month begins with a time of closer reflection on the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. Each of the sacraments is also a special moment in the life of faith. Encountering Christ, letting themselves be caught up in and guided by his love, enlarges the horizons of existence. Faith is no refuge for the fainthearted, but enhances our lives. It makes us aware of a magnificent calling, the vocation of love. Pope Francis, Lumen Fidei 53.
Setting the Scene. Unlike as is usual most of the THOUGHTS FOR THE DAY during this month do not follow the scripture readings of the day but are an adaptation of the simpler MARFAM programme STATIONS OF THE CROSS FOR FAMILIES which is available in booklet form.
APRIL 2. FIRST STATION – JESUS IS CONDEMNED TO DEATH,
NARRATOR 1. DO NOT CONDEMN OR JUDGE OTHERS. “Jesus we honour you.” Response: “Thank you Lord Jesus for all you have done for us.” How often do I condemn or judge others, unjustly or to keep the peace? How often am I not strong enough to stand up for what I believe? How do I behave when I am unfairly treated by others, my family, friends, teachers, fellow workers? Do I argue or fight, have to have the last word or do I try and accept that life isn’t always fair?
NARRATOR 2. Jesus had been betrayed by his friend Judas. The Jewish leaders had arrested him and handed him over to Pilate to be judged. They did not believe that he came from God,but saw him as a troublemaker. Pilate realised that Jesus was innocent, but wasn’t strong enough to stand up for his beliefs. He condemned Jesus to please the people and try to keep the peace.
Because Jesus was human too, like us, he must have felt sad and rejected at being unjustly treated.
LEADER: PRAY AND SING. God, our Father, forgive me for the times when I like Pilate, have been unfair to others. Help me too to learn there are times when I have to accept unfair treatment without complaining, as Jesus did. Pope Francis: “Disillusionment can make people run in search of moments of relief. This attitude is similar to that of Pontius Pilate: washing one’s hands of something. This attitude seems pragmatic but in actual fact shows disregard for justice, humanity and social responsibility and leads to individualism, hypocrisy and even cynicism,”