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The Joy of the Family

“The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.”  That is the beginning and the heart of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation on the joy of love.

Amoris Laetitia reflects the results of recent synods on the family as well as other writings of Pope Francis and his predecessors.  It speaks of the gifts and joys of families but, also, acknowledges the contemporary challenges which they face.

The pope emphasizes the importance of marriage and family life, writing, “The welfare of the family is decisive for the future of the world and the Church.”  The family, thus,  is a source of strength for the Church, just as the Church is a source of strength for families.

To celebrate, promote, protect and strengthen marriage and families in our world, the Diocese of Portland has launched the Joy of the Family initiative. A specific theme featured in Amoris Laetitia will be highlighted each month and will include opening and closing prayers, a reading, a passage from Amoris Laetitia, a "contemplate and share" section, intercessions, weekly suggestions for practical activities, and a reflection from an individual or individuals who possess a special personal connection to the monthly theme. You will find this month's reflection below.

It is hoped developing these themes will help the faithful understand the teachings in Amoris Laetitia and inspire us all to integrate these teachings in our daily lives.  


MAY 2018 - THE JOY OF MOTHERHOOD

OPENING PRAYER

Mary, holy Mother of God,
pray for us that we may be made worthy of the promises of Christ.

Grant, we beseech you, O Lord God, that we, your servants,
may enjoy perpetual health of mind and body;
and by the intercession of the Blessed Mary, ever Virgin,
may we be delivered from present sorrow, and obtain eternal joy.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

From the Litany of Loreto

READINGS

Proverbs 31:10-12,26-31

When one finds a worthy wife, her value is far beyond pearls.
        Her husband, entrusting his heart to her, has an unfailing prize
        She brings him good, and not evil, all the days of her life.
        She opens her mouth in wisdom and on her tongue is kindly counsel.
        She watches the conduct of her household and eats not her food in idleness.
        Her children rise up and praise her; her husband, too, extols her:
                “Many are the women of proven worth, but you have excelled them all.”
        Charm is deceptive and beauty fleeting;
                 the woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
        Give her a reward of her labors,
                and let her works praise her at the city gates.

AMORIS LAETITIA

"A mother who watches over her child with tenderness and compassion helps him or her to grow in confidence and to experience that the world is a good and welcoming place.” N. 175

‘Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism…It is they who testify to the beauty of life.’  Certainly, ‘a society without mothers would be dehumanized, for mothers are always, even in the worst of times, witnesses to tenderness, dedication and moral strength.  Mothers often communicate the deepest meaning of religious practice in the first prayers and acts of devotion that their children learn…Without mothers, not only would there be no new faithful, but the faith itself would lose a good part of its simple and profound warmth…Dear mothers: Thank you!  Thank you for what you are in your family and for what you give to the Church and the world.’  (N. 174)

CONTEMPLATE & SHARE

•  Who are the women that show you motherly care? What have you learned from them about faith and acting with the tender, compassionate love of God?

  What do you do to help others, especially children and youth, to grow in confidence that the world is indeed a good and welcoming place? Share where you have seen or experienced God’s kingdom of love, justice, and mercy present now.

•  How does our family challenge each other to resist temptations to think or act with self-serving individualism? Give God thanks for the gift of your family and ask the Holy Spirit to help each of you continue to grow in the moral life.

INTERCESSIONS

Sixth Sunday of Easter May 5/6 -  May the Blessed Virgin Mary be a model for all Christian wives and mothers, we pray to the Lord:

Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, May 10 – May the solemn Feast of the Ascension inspire all Christians on earth to aspire for the abundant life of eternity, we pray to the Lord:

Seventh Sunday of Easter, May 12/13 - May all Christian mothers exude evangelical joy and fidelity in living out their maternal vocation, we pray to the Lord:

Pentecost Sunday, May 19/20 - May the Holy Spirit, who came upon the apostles and the Blessed Virgin Mary at Pentecost, inspire all Christians to proclaim the joy of the Gospel in word and deed, we pray to the Lord:

Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity, May 26/27 -  May the divine love and unity of The Most Holy Trinity be reflected in the lives of all Christian families, we pray to the Lord:

CLOSING PRAYER

Prayer for Mothers

Loving God,
as a mother gives life and nourishment to her children,
so you watch over your Church.
Bless our mother.
Let the example of her faith and
love shine forth.
Grant that we, her family,
may honor her always
with a spirit of profound respect.
Grant this through Christ our Lord.
Amen.

USCCB - Catholic Household Blessings and Prayers

JOY IN ACTION

Weekly suggestions for the faithful to consider

May 6:   Honor the Blessed Mother in some way in your home this month.  Pray at least a decade of the rosary daily. If you have children, consider holding a May crowning ceremony.  (One example: www.catholicicing.com/may-crowning-ideas-for-home)

May 13:  Celebrate your mother in some way on Mother’s Day and then make a commitment to do something similar during the second week of every month.

May 20:  Donate to help mothers and families, whether through your parish, St. André Home in Biddeford, the McAuley Residence in Portland, a teen pregnancy center, or similar organizations.

May 27:  As we celebrate Memorial Day, remember in your prayers all mothers, living and deceased.

REFLECTION

The Joy of Motherhood
By: Stephanie Brown, Prince of Peace Parish, Lewiston

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

Never had I understood the true meaning of this verse as I do now.  “A reward.” When I first found out we were expecting, I was not so sure.  I was very excited to find out I was having a child, but I had miscarried twice before. My relationship with my child’s father was rocky at best, and it was a very difficult pregnancy with surgeries, hospital stays, and pre-term labor.  So, even when I gave birth at 7 ½ months to a 4 lb., 12 oz. baby boy, I was fearful.  When he was five weeks old, he suffered an injury from which, thankfully, he recovered; however, the incident led to a decision to raise this precious boy on my own.

I was raised Catholic by very devout parents, though 12 years earlier, I had chosen to leave the Church.  When my son was 3 years old, there was a banner hanging outside the church that read “Catholics can always come home.” I drove by it every day for a month until the stoplight in front of the church stayed red for a prolonged time one day.   I stared at that banner and said, “O.k., God, I finally get it.”

That moment changed both our lives. Together, we attended church the following Sunday. We both became active members as he grew, helping where we could, and in third grade, my son gave me an incredible moment of joy when he served as an altar server for the first time.

Over the years, I smiled proudly with small tears of joy as he portrayed a saint, a wise man, and even Jesus in his school plays.  His love for God, family, and community were fostered by his time in Cub Scouts.  We enjoyed this time together as I became involved as a troop leader. For his Eagle Scout project, he chose to make emergency kits for children going into foster care, and I could not have been prouder of his loving heart and steadfast drive in accomplishing this task. His teachers, friends, and his friends’ parents often express to me what a wonderful young man he is, how much compassion he has for others, watching his love of God and his faith grow immensely. 

Seeing him graduate from Saint Dominic Academy, a school he truly loved, and watching him receive an award voted on by the student body for the student they felt ‘represented all the values of that school,’ made my heart grow with love and pride.  Watching him go off to his first year of college and trusting in God’s will, he had more faith and confidence than I could have imagined.

“Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3).

My truest, purest moment of joy while raising my son happens to be right now.  As I have watched him become the young man he is today, my heart swells with pride and joy.  I can now look back and see the true miracle I was given.  It amazes me how much love God has, even for me, a sinner, that he would reward me with the most amazing person I have ever known, my son.  In doing so, he’s restored my faith and steered my life back to him.  The Lord has taught me that when things are wonderful, thank God, and when they aren’t, God is guiding us to do something different.

I did all I could possibly do, a single mother raising my son, but I give all glory to God.  My son has exceeded even my own expectations.  I look at him and believe he was made for something special.  God made us for greatness to glorify him, and God truly wants us to have joy in our lives. Through the blessings given to me by our Heavenly Father, my son is a true joy!