#WednesdayWisdom: Being Holy Is About Being Real

Wednesday 5th February 2020

On the first Wednesday of every month, we’ll be sharing some Wednesday Wisdom with a series of videos and inspiration for Parents and Catechists. The first is this video by David Wells: ‘being Holy is about being Real’

Many of the people who bring their children to prepare for first communion are strangers to the church. They might have a cultural, or a family connection, but might not have engaged in the religious parts of their life at all for many years, if ever. Regular prayer, attending Mass, even understanding what being a Christian means, might all be things they just have not considered. Yet they have brought their child to us, and that is a great gift. The challenge we have is that without their encouragement and their participation it is likely that the child will be remote from the church as well.

In the training David made the point forcefully that our job is not to judge or scold parents for their religious shortcomings, but to welcome and thank them. We are asking them to open their hearts to what is on offer and to do their best to demonstrate to their children what being a Catholic means to them. For some, this might mean asking them to make profound changes to their lives. We can only expect to be successful if we work with them, understanding their insecurities and doubts in the spirit of accompaniment, so that they feel encouraged and motivated.

Pope Francis famously says “I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” In the spirit of this we produced this video for the parents like the ones described above, so that they can understand that our expectation of them is not some unrealistic aspiration of spiritual conversion, but about being themselves, not judged, but loved.

If you can get the point over that we are here to accompany and support, and that the steps we are asking them to take are the ones they feel comfortable taking, the change in the dynamic is profound. Here is a short report from one parish:

“For the past two years our parish has been adapting the approach of welcome and accompaniment. We have not set expectations about minimum attendance at Mass, or other requirements, but have just asked everyone to work with us, using the Emmaus story to illustrate accompaniment. At the first ‘celebration’ Mass of the year (when the parents pass the baptismal candle to the child), we have held the rest of the congregation back at the time of communion, and asked the parents to accompany their child to the altar to receive the Eucharist (or a blessing). This has served as a wonderful way to bring to life the role of the parent as first teacher of their child in faith, and has proved a very successful development to our approach.”

We will be sharing a video and reflection point each month but you can watch more videos in the series now by clicking this link. 

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