Growing up I was part of the Family Mass group within my Parish. This year that family mass team celebrated 25 years in the making. The parish priest invited me back and gave me the unique opportunity to prepare and give the homily during the mass. It was an honor. This speech shows how being part of a family mass can enhanced a child’s faith and enable their own faith development to grow. It captures the essences of what a family mass can bring to a community. Here is a copy of my speech:
Please note names have been changed to protect the privacy of those mentioned.
At the beginning of the Mass we were asked a simple question “what would this child turn out to be?”.
Before I began to write down and contemplate what I was going to speak about today I asked myself “how did being a part of the Family Mass impact my life?”
One of the first things that came into my head was Mary. She taught me how to read in front of the congregation and I hope what she taught me helps me today. During practice every Thursday she would stand beside me where I stand in front of you today and teach me. My job every week was the first reading and I will always remember Mary lining the page with instructions, when to look up and when to pause but one very important word she taught me that stuck with me for life was how to pronounce a reading from the book of Deuteronomy and for that Mary I thank you whenever I see Deuteronomy I think of you.
I remember Claire sitting in the front row and I know she is sitting there now today before I look up…hello Claire! Directing us, showing us where to stand on the alter with hand signals and Joan sitting beside the children ready for the prayers of the faithful and rushing to the back of the Church to prepare to the offertory procession.
Being apart of the Family Mass allowed me to feel included and important within the Church community. When I was entrusted with a job to do during the Mass It gave me a sense of pride. I was proud of myself. I also began to understand the message of the chosen Gospel that day or when we say the Our Father and when do we sit and kneel during the Mass.
I realized the Family Mass played a huge role in determining what I as a person would turn out to be. (Ask Children what they would like to be?)
For parents you wonder how your child will turn out. You have hopes and dreams for them-for friendships, love, prosperity and many more. You have fears and questions of anxiety just like the people in today’s Gospel when they said “what will this child turn out to be?”
Whilst John’s parents knew that there was something really special about their son they also had the usual parental fears. They put their child into the protection and hands of God, as you do at each baptism ceremony.
For a moment I invite the children and the congregation to close their eyes and picture this scene. Your son or daughter arrives home from school and announces that they have been picked to join the school sports team. There is a great sense of enthusiasm and pride and you as parents are delighted. You promise to help them prepare and get the team ready. You drive them to training sessions and encourage them from the sideline. On the drive home and at the dinner table you talk strategy and skill and offer suggestions for difficulties and help your child. The big match day comes along and you invite relatives and friends to attend. The neighbours show their support, you are so proud. The team score and then …..victory. The final whistle blows and the celebrations begin. The manager says his parting words hoping that the team will remain together that he will be looking for them in a few years to play for their country.
Now open your eyes. At baptism we all became part of the Church community. We became a team. Your whole family were so proud that day and they made a special promise to God. They promised to bring you up to follow Jesus and be part of the Church here today. Do you think they kept that promise? Part of keeping that promise is coming to Church and showing that you love Jesus by sharing your faith with everybody here today. Being part of the Family Mass is like a sports team. Your parents drive you to practice, they help you prepare at home and when Sunday arrives they are there to support you as you participate in God’s team.
When my parents gave me the opportunity to take part in the Family Mass they kept their promise to help me know and love Jesus. So thank you Mam and Dad. At the end of Mass today take a little time to say thank you to all the people who help you prepare to be part of God’s team here today. The work of the Family Mass is so much more than a reading from the book of Deuteronomy. It is journey and a promise to be part of God’s team.