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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
May 29, 1998     The Message
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May 29, 1998

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The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana  C  i Ways for the home-to reflect the litur By MARY MILLER PEDERSEN Catholic News Service Ch Pentecost Sunday, the Johnson chil- dren woke up to find a new kite at the foot of their beds. Every year, on this important church feast celebrating the coming of the Holy Spirit, the Johnson family took time to fly their kites and enjoy the experience of the wind moving constantly around them. On that day, they would open all the windows in the house, hang a wind- sock or mobile, and talk about the wind's power and presence. Then, at dinner or bedtime, they gave thanks for the ordinary force of wind that is a symbol of the constant presence and movement of the Holy Spirit in their home and in their lives. Then there is the Bradley famil):.Short- ly after Christmas, on the feast of Epiphany, they each tak a small branch from an evergreen tree and parade through their home, dipping the branch in holy water and blessing every room with a prayer and a petition; they ask God for some particular blessing in each room of the house. "After this procession, the Bradleys gather in the kitchen for a special Epiphany cake. And remembering the visit of the three kings, the smaller chil- dren dress up like kings wearing par- ents' bathrobes and Burger King crowns. Simple, informal rituals and traditions are natural ways families celebrate the liturgical seasons at home. Mealtime, bedtime, even a short trip from a fast- food stop to a soccer game can be an opportunity for families to recall the themes of the Sunday liturgy with a short poem or prayer. But who has time to look up the Sunday readings and figure out a way to make it meaningful for busy families? Most par- ents feel overwhelmed; they barely have time to do the essentials in a given day, let alone create a spiri- tual experience for their families. In addition to .the time crunch, many families ! have encountered feel that their family isn't the "holy" type. They pray at cht/rch, but are not so comfortable about praying and talking about religious things at home. The good news is that they don't have to. Praying and celebrating our Catholic faith at home in the "domestic church" is meant to be different from praying and celebrating in the parish church. The rituals, traditions and prayers that celebrate faith at home are less for- mal, messier, louder, more (by crying, laughing, and spontaneous comments). The sacred is experienced in the course of ordinary life at home, for children and parents alike. So themes from the Sunday liturgies, like forgiveness, service of others, self- sacrifice and justice, can be translated to simple everyday events and situations quite easily with a little imagination and a few minutes of planning. The Gospel stories contained inSun- day's liturgy are full of down-to-earth "The rituals, traditions and prayers that cel- ebrate faith at home are less formal, messier, louder, more interrupted," observes Mary i interrupted situations families can easily relate to, such as not having enough food to serve a large crowd, celebrating weddings, grieving someone's death, hoping for a sick person's healing or awaiting the return of sons who leave home and cause their parents sorrow. All these stories point to ways that God enters ordinary people's lives. And if you're short on religious imagination or planning time to celebrate these sto- ries at home, then there are dozens of books, newsletters and resources already Miller Pedersen. "The sacred is a in the course of ordinary -- CNS photo developed to help you. Most of us p thought of adding one ity to our already duties. But of all our family, the most cial gift they get from us is God's love for them and; the presence of circumstance of their liveS. Faith in God will gifts parents give their The eucharistic threads of life at home By DAN LUBY Catholic News Service Sea water rushes through a gash in the hull while desperate sailors clamor to seal the hatch. The steel door clangs shut. The ocean will fill one chamber of the vessel, but the other watertight com- partments will remain dry. A crisis is averted! Sealing off one compartment from another can save lives onboard a ship. As a way to approaah Christian faith, though, it is dangerous. Making the connection between faith and life is a perennial challenge. How can we ki-p our profession of faith from remaining sealed into a religious "com- partment" where it won't spill into the rest of our lives? Nowhere is the need to connect life and faith more important than in the case of Sunday Mass. The Eucharist is called the source and summit of Chris- tian life. How, then, can we strength- en the links between what we do around the Lord's table and what hap- pens around the table of our family gatherings? ,  Eucha_rist is about reconciliation. The Sunday liturgy invites us to acknowledge our failings and be recon- ciled with each other and with God. What about becoming a reconciling fam- ily? When we have hurt others, we need to ask forgiveness. Assigning blame is less important than healing wounds. In this arena it is vital that older fam- ily members serve as models for younger ones of forgiveness. When chil- dren see a parent admit mistakes and accept responsibility for hurt, they learn valuable lessons about reconciliation's meaning." The Eucharist is about telling our great story -- the story of faith and its history. Mealtimes always have been prime times for storytelling too: But the sto- ries told then need to be heard care fully. We need to help each other prac- tice the art of attentive listening, without interruptions, without hurry- ing people up. Families that cultivate both a love for stories and the skills of attentive listen- ing will have a richer experience of the liturgy of the Word on Sunday and be better able to connect its stories of our faith tradition with their own stories. Eucharist is about thanksgiving. A strong sense of gratitude is funda- mental for nourishing relationships with one another and with God. Families can build expressions of thanks into daily prayer at the table or before bed. Birth- days and other celebrations can be enriched by naming gifts for which we are especially grateful. Eucharist is about service. Families also are a natural setting for developing hearts for serving others. Letting children help with meal prepa- ration or other family chores invites a sense of responsibility for the family's welfare. Table talk can be a good place to discuss family projects that focus on helping those in need. For all its intense activity, the Eucharist is also about silence and reflec- tion, about awareness of God's presence. Families do well to take some quiet moments -- before a meal, when begin- ning a trip, gathered around a sick mem- ber's bed -- to remember the quiet mir- acle of God with us in every aspect of our lives. If we have signs of reconciliation in our family circles; if we are attentive to one another's stories; ff our common life encourages gratitude and give ourselves the together -- then we the power of Christ, the Mass. And then the beyond the corn practice to transfo .... Luby is the director Christian formation for Worth, Texas.