Pastoral Letter for the Feast of the Holy Family

Pastoral Letter to be read in all churches and chapels of the Archdiocese of Liverpool on the Feast of the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph, Sunday 30 December 2012.  It will also be used with catechesis groups in the coming weeks.

This letter was written and recorded by Archbishop Patrick Kelly shortly before he suffered a slight stroke on Monday 10 December.  The Archbishop continues to make good progress during a period of convalescence.

My dear People,

Thank you to every mother, father, for leading your children to receive the Holy Spirit and welcome Our Lord in the First Communion. Thank you to grandparents, to catechists for encouraging parents to fulfil the blessing poured on them on the day their baby was baptised: to be the first and best teachers in the ways of Jesus our Lord.

As Mary and Joseph introduced Jesus to the Passover Feast you are introducing your children to the feasts of Our Lord. Our Lord is with us in the Scriptures and in the breaking of bread. In recent weeks, leading up to our celebration of Christmas you introduced your children to the wonderful gift Our Lord's forgiveness in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Sins were confessed in the atmosphere of the Saviour born for us. In this you declared: Jesus is our Saviour and Our Lord.

As Mary and Joseph taught Jesus to pray, you are teaching your children to pray. I am certain what they will remember is that Our Lord meant so much to you that you did your best to help them to know him more clearly, love him more dearly and follow him more nearly day by day.

But your children will sometimes surprise you as Jesus surprised Mary and Joseph: Jesus would not just be like other sons: just a carpenter, or what we might more accurately call a clerk of works following Joseph’s footsteps. He would be lost for three days: strange things would happen at another Passover Feast. Because God his Father, whom he addressed as Abba would glorify him by the way of selfless love even to a cross.

I was told of a child at the session about baptismal names: why this name was given to them: after Father, Mother, and Nan. One small child declared: God gave me my name because God made me. And everyone present recognised how wonderful we all are made to be.

There is so much to think about. Perhaps all we need as our diocesan family longs to bless every family by enabling parents to be the first and best teachers is Mary as she is described today:

‘His mother stored up all these things in her heart.’

Yours devotedly in Christ,

+Patrick Kelly

Archbishop of Liverpool