Today Bishop Tom issued a pastoral letter to whole diocese. At the same time the Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales launched a document called ‘The Call, The Journey and The Mission’. The latter was printed and made available, after Mass, for every household.
The theme of these documents is to respond to an invitation from Pope Francis to reflect upon our experiences of marriage and family life. All of us were born into a family; all of us have a mother and father. Therefore, whether we are married or single, have children or not, we all have some experience of family life. Some of these experiences are positive, some are not.
In reflecting upon our experiences of, we have been asked to answer six questions. There is no need to answer them all at once. In fact, we are being asked to take time to think about our reply to each question. As such, there will only be one question given every two weeks. Responses to each question may then be placed in a box provided at the back of the Church. The responses will then be collected by the diocese, before being sent to the Bishops’ Office in London where Vincent Cardinal Nicholls will take the replies to Rome. Alternatively, responses may be made on-line by filling in the form here.
The questions are:
Question 1: For Sunday 01 February 2015. What are your joys and hopes of marriage and family life today?
Question 2: For Sunday 15 February 2015. What are your struggles and fears of marriage and family life today?
Question 3: For Sunday 01 March 2015. How can we better understand marriage as a vocation?
Question 4: For Sunday 15 March 2015. How does marriage enrich you?
Question 5: For Sunday 29 March 2015. How does your family life enrich you?
Question 6: For Sunday 05 April 2015. In what way, through the abiding presence of God, is your family “Salt of the earth and light to the world,” and a place of and for handing on the faith?
My dear people
We are now in the period between the Synods when the Holy Father has asked us to reflect with true spiritual discernment on the themes emerging from the October 2014 Extraordinary Synod in Rome.
This period of discernment is above all intended to help people celebrate marriage and family life, whilst recognising the difficulties that families often encounter. The strong affirmation of marriage and the teaching of the Church is at the heart of what we are celebrating. There are just SIX questions this time that are being made available to all our parishes and communities. Your responses to these key questions will influence what happens at the Synod in October 2015. The questions appear in a hand-out that is available for each family as you leave Mass today. They will also be published in your parish bulletin, taking one question at a time every two weeks from next Sunday 01 February. Then on the Sunday after Easter (12 April 2015) you are invited to place an envelope containing your written responses in a basket or box here in the church.
Your responses will be collated by the Diocese. A report will then be sent to the Bishops’ Conference, which will collate responses from all the Dioceses. Feedback is to be with the Bishops’ Secretariat before Trinity Sunday (31 May 2015), so that these considerations can inform Cardinal Vincent Nichols and Bishop Peter Doyle in good time before they go to the Ordinary Synod in Rome in October 2015.
In Menevia, I ask you to make preparations for the Ordinary Synod in accordance with the document that you will receive on leaving Mass today. It is entitled:
- The Call, Journey and Mission of Marriage and Family Life for clergy and people.
This reflection document is launched today (Sunday 25 January 2015), and I commend it to you for further study. Please be sure to collect a copy after Mass. Your views are being sought and they will all be taken into account. What you said made an impact last time, when the questionnaire was much more complex and difficult. In the light of this second invitation from Pope Francis that we should offer further comments to shorter and clearer questions this time, I ask each and every one of you to make a personal contribution that is equally short and clear. Please leave aside gripes and groans. Think positively. Think realistically. Think pastorally and compassionately.
I cannot emphasise enough the importance of having your views. They do count. Thank you in advance for your time and participation.
+Thomas Matthew Bishop of Menevia
01 January 2015 – The Feast of Mary, Mother of God
to be read at all Masses on the weekend of Sunday 25 January 2015 (The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time)