23 February 2018
By Bryan Smyth
Homily of Bishop John Buckley at the liturgy to welcome the Icon for the World Meeting of Families to the Diocese of Cork and Ross, Cathedral of Saints Mary and Anne, Cork
This evening we welcome the icon to our diocese which I had the privilege of being present at the anointing in Knock last August with representative families from Cork and Ross alongside bishops, clergy and parishioners from all 26 dioceses on the island of Ireland.
It is an honour for Ireland to have been specially chosen by Pope Francis to host the World Meeting of Families in August. This gift comes to us because the Holy Father understands our tradition of family life and mission in reaching out to others in faith. It is our prayer that Pope Francis will come to share in the event with us to renew the importance of family.
Saint Pope John Paul II began this world event during his pontificate following his papal document on family life in which he says:
“the future of humanity passes by way of the family. The family is sacred ground. Children never truly leave the family – they may leave home, they may leave the city and even our country but they never leave their family. Our schools can have great teachers who teach our children well, but the greatest influence in their lives will always be their family – parents and grandparents. Our lives are built on the relationships we have with our families, the support they give to us, all built on the joy of love.”
In 2016 Pope Francis gave us this beautiful document to read and reflect on called Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), which the Pastoral Development Office have been leading us in studying throughout the diocese over this preparation year as we look towards the World Meeting of Families. The Church reaches out to all families promoting the importance of Christian marriage. The Church being the model for marriage – the relationship of husband and wife – mirrors the relationship of Christ to his Church.
Every family is a domestic Church, the first school of prayer. Parents handing on prayer in the home to their children. We have a strong Irish tradition of family prayer in the home, it was what sustained us in times of persecution and hardship. Prayer unites the family – we all know the saying – the family that prays together, stays together.
During these days of Lent we read from the prophet Isaiah. These readings call us to prayer in the manner of the Old Testament people – the chosen people. We read in Isaiah 51: “Look to the rock from which you were cut and to the quarry from which you were hewn” inviting us to recall from where we came, and the traditions we inherited not to forget to weave the thread of family prayer into our lives.
The upcoming World Meeting of Families will lead to a great renewal of family prayer. We will be joined by families from across the globe. Let us remember in particular the Archdiocese of Los Angeles which is the largest Catholic diocese in the US, as one of its auxiliary bishops, Bishop David O’Connell – a native of Glanmire, Co Cork, in our own diocese – will lead a plane full of pilgrims to Ireland for this special celebration of faith in August.
In conclusion, I encourage you to always remember these inspiring words of Pope Francis: “the home is the nearest hospital, the first school for the young and the best home for the elderly.” God bless you all.