November Monthly Members' Call Notes

18 November 2015

Reflections on the Word Meeting of Families 2015 Philadelphia

Leader: Beth Mahoney

Maribeth Stewart introduced Beth Mahoney, Chair of the Spirituality Commission and the topic. She noted that the theme of the 2015 World Meeting of Families was Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.
Beth thanked Maribeth for the intro and indicated that she was grateful to serve as Chair of the Commission. She then opened the call with the Prayer from The World Meeting of Families.

World Meeting of Families Prayer
God and Father of us all,
in Jesus, your Son and our Savior,
you have made us
your sons and daughters
in the family of the Church.
May your grace and love
help our families
in every part of the world
be united to one another
in fidelity to the Gospel.
May the example of the Holy Family,
with the aid of your Holy Spirit,
guide all families, especially those most troubled,
to be homes of communion and prayer
and to always seek your truth and live in your love.
Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Beth informed the callers that the Spirituality Commission had held a voice conference and that there will be many resources coming forth this year.
She then focused us on the topic of the call, the World Meeting of Families (WMF) that was held in Philadelphia in September.
She noted that on the October Monthly Members’ Call, people several speakers were present at the WMF and for the Pope’s visit to the US. She recommends that everyone read through the notes from that call.
This call is going to reflect on the spirituality present at the WMF.
The WMF was a time of prayer and excitement. It was hectic, peaceful, busy, and attendees experienced a lack of sleep with all there was to do, see, and experience.
We want to look at the meeting and the effect it had on us. This call is to be a time of deepening our own spirituality.
We are called to reflect on the family, the fundamental cell of humanity. We want to keep this reflection before us as the beauty human reality.
We seek to deepen the theology of the family. We must be thoughtful.
We are called to make known God’s plan for the family. She provided a quotation from Pope Francis when he announced the WMF. In the United States, we are asked to look at our families. Put down the cell phones and listen to each other. She recalled his comparison of the Church to a field hospital for the
wounded. The Church takes in the broken in spirit and restores them. At a recent diocesan convention in Fall River, MA, Beth gave a workshop called The Home: A First Aid Station for Mercy and Forgiveness.
It is useless to first get cholesterol and glucose levels from a seriously injured person; one must first heal the wounds. Then one can start from the ground up to heal the whole person.
We need to recognize what we live in our own families relative to the Gospel.
The Gospel is full of images of the family. Saint Augustine said that physicians heal the body and the Lord heals the soul. The teaching from the Good Samaritan story helps us make the connection that the Church is the inn where the wounded recover. This image of the inn for recovery and Pope Francis’ analogy of Church as a field hospital are alike.
We must bring people to an encounter with the Divine Physician. Pope Francis asks us to renew our encounter with Jesus Christ and to do this every day. No one is to be excluded from the joy brought by the Lord. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI said that being Christian gives a person a new horizon. Saint John Paul II said that to make an encounter with Christ possible, God willed/gave us His Church so that all may walk with Christ through life.
Those who are alone; they are the ones called for in the New Evangelization (NE). The NE brings the wounded in from the battlefield. Pope Francis reminds us of the challenge of being a missionary Church –a Church going forth.
God works through us and we have a mission. We are in this world for a purpose. We are here to be God’s helpers.
The WMF was notable for the closeness we felt to each other. The corridors and meeting rooms were full of thousands of people. Physically touching was unavoidable. We are called to be full of God’s love and this calls us to action.
We often need something separate that speaks to us; a time of quiet and reflection: A retreat, a day of reflection. Jesus Christ did this. He went to quiet places to pray and refresh. We need this, too.
It can be hard to keep the momentum of such an experience. The same is true with the WMF.
Many experienced the WMF and then returned to the reality of daily life. It is hard to keep the momentum felt during the WMF. Like Peter, James and John at the Transfiguration, we wanted to stay on that mountaintop of shared experience.
But like the apostles with Jesus on the mountain, we, too, had to come back. This was also true for those who listened and followed the WMF from home.
How do we share this experience? How do we maintain the momentum? So much to digest.

Beth then gave us three questions to ponder:
1. As Catholic women, members of the NCCW, how are we living the effects of the WMF?
2. What is one thing your heard or experienced that changed your life?
3. What is something that you can bring to your CCW from the WMF?
She is asking these questions as it is hard to integrate an experience like the WMF to our reality when we return.

Responses to the questions follow:
1 –A feeling of prayer and solidarity with persons all over the world as the WMF was a microcosm of so many nationalities, all united in our common bond of faith and faithfulness to the family (Maribeth)
2 –Using the field hospital concept: We need to understand how many brothers and sisters we have in the world who have different cultures, who are wounded. We need to focus on helping and understanding those who have been hurt through domestic violence and in so many other ways (Georgia)
3 –There was a recent talk on a Catholic radio station broadcast from the WMF. The following statistics were provided concerning family participation in religion:
Father brings the children alone: There is a 44% chance that the children will continue practicing their religion
Mother brings the children alone: There is a 3% chance that the children will continue practicing their religion
Both parents bring the children: There is a 33% chance that the children will continue practicing their religion (Iowa)
4 –A bishop in Iowa recently commented that saying Grace before meals and thanking God in prayer after the meal as a family strengthens family life in the domestic church (Iowa)
5 –The catechism provided for preparation for the WMF, free on-line, is only 128 pages long. It is absolutely excellent and geared to children and adults in the family. It is developed to be done in 6 sections. Many parishes led sessions using this catechism. It was suggested that it would be amazing if affiliates sponsored this in their parishes. Philadelphia did an amazing job providing resources for the WMF and this is the jewel of them all. This would be an excellent way to keep the WMF going forward (FL)
6 –While not privileged to be at the WMF, she heard a talk on the percentages of women leading families. A very high percentage of children remain in the faith when raised by their mother alone or by their mother and father but the father is not Catholic. She wants people to be aware that it is possible for women to raise children with great faith (Alaska)
7 –One of the talks by Cardinal Tagle from Manila was on the wounded heart and he really nailed it. All of us are wounded in some way but we all carry joy in us, as well. He is so gifted and really touched those who heard him. All the talks from the WMF are available on the WMF website (FL)
8 - Beth asked: Mercy, forgiveness, healing. How to accomplish this in our own homes? She flies a great deal and realized that the part of the safety message heard always says if needed, oxygen masks will fall from the area above your seat. PUT YOUR OWN MASK ON FIRST before you help others. She noted that it is so important to keep ourselves nurtured so we can be present and be a help to others.
9 –A woman who was present at the WMF said that there were a couple of things that impressed her: The joy and peace among people of so many different cultures. 20,000 people gathered and it was very crowded. But when people bumped into each other and apologized, the response was always one of, “That’s OK.” There was such a sense of all being in this together. It was fascinating to see the national dress and to have people explain what their dress meant. Everyone was so kind and polite that Security had almost nothing to do. Her second observation concerned the wounded heart concept in that it made her reflect on the Good Samaritan. How many are willing to take the hands of the person next to them and learn their needs and really get to know them? (Minnesota)
10 –We should mention that the recent Synod on the Family started almost immediately after the WMF. We need to reflect on the needs of the family and the issues brought forth. There are some that do not touch our country, such as the problems of polygamy and the predominantly patriarchal society found in much of Africa hindering the development and security of women there. WUCWO will soon have online the response they were asked to prepare for one section of the preparation document for the Synod. It concerns the paragraph (30) that deals with the place of women in the Church. The responses from around the world were striking in their similarity (issues with divorce and remarriage, cohabitation, and youth leaving the Church) with the exception of the issues particular to Africa. It is interesting and gives one a sense of the universality of our Church. We get so locked into our own existence sometimes that we fail to learn the reality of our sisters and their families around the world. We also need to see how all this fits into the resolutions adopted at our Orlando Convention (Maribeth)

Beth then said that it is time to look at our resolutions and implement them. All of them touch on our spirituality. With regard to the Synod, an unofficial document reviewing the Synod is circulating but the official document will likely come out in December.
She asked us to be mindful of the Jubilee Year of Mercy starting on 08 December, the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

She then provided some resources of interest concerning the WMF:
-Our Sunday Visitor Pope Francis and the Joy of Family Life. This book provides a daily reflection from the Holy Father on the family
-Catechesis for the World Meeting of Families from Our Sunday Visitor. Love is Our Mission: Family Fully Alive
-Veritas Pope Francis and the Family A very good book with Scripture passages highlighting the family

After asking if there were any other concerns, Beth closed the meeting with a beautiful prayer from our NCCW Prayer resource.
Maribeth then thanked all who were on the call for their presence and participation and Beth for her overview of the WMF and bringing us to the awareness of the rich spirituality of the World Meeting of Families.

Notes from Maribeth Stewart