Family: the ‘cradle of faith and love’
Part of the two-week celebrations of the 120th anniversary and dedication of the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd saw another full house on Feb 24, with Holy Mass focused on the family. Presided by Msgr Francis Lau, the Mass was themed “Family: Cradle of Faith and Love”, and was celebrated in thanksgiving for the role of the family in Christian life.
The Family Partners of the Archdiocesan Commission for the Family (ACF) turned up in full force, setting up booths to share their missions and advocate their programmes and services. “Our partners are our first responders at the frontline in direct contact with our community,” said ACF Executive Director David Fong. “From young adults, singles, engaged couples, newlyweds to parents, they attend to and address all familial and marital issues regardless.”
Also present was Pieta, a new ministry for bereaved parents, who received a special blessing from Msgr Lau during Mass.
During his homily Msgr Lau reiterated the Church’s view of the family as the “basic institution of society”, stating that families did not just consist of couples, but their children as well. Msgr Lau quoted Pope Pius XII’s address to newlyweds in 1942, praising the role of wife and mother as the “radiant sun of the family”. “The husband is the head of the family, and the wife is the heart,” he said after reading the text. “The head without a heart won’t work.”
Referencing Jesus’ early life, Msgr Lau illustrated the importance of obedience in children. He highlighted that parents are responsible for ensuring their children do not end up lazy and entitled. “It is not below the dignity of anyone to hold a broom,” he reminded.
He also highlighted the importance of uninterrupted dinner time and its role in family bonding, “The family that eats and prays together, stays together.”
In regards to spousal relationships, Msgr Lau had many sound nuggets of advice to give. Acknowledging that disagreements were part and parcel of marriage, he advised couples to “be to each other’s virtues very kind, be to each other’s faults a little blind.” Most importantly, he urged couples not to sort out their disagreements in the presence of their children.
Msgr concluded his homily by reminding the congregation that God intended the family unit to be a paradise on earth. “Bring God into your life. Without God, a family will not be a happy one.”
In reflection, Mary de Cruz of Beginning Experiences (BE) shared that Catholic families should set an example by using actions to show love. “It’s the actions that matter more, not the words,” said the 64-year-old.
Sharon Wong, 45, a fellow member from BE added, “Kindness and compassion in the family radiate to other parts of life like the workplace, and influences children to bring it to school with them.”
For others, the evening made them reflect on their roles and witness in the family.
“I was reminded that parents are guilty of using their phones during dinner too,” said Angeline Yong, who is in her 40s. “Dinner time is the best opportunity to bond for busy parents, and we should be present for our children.”
Matthew Ang, 39, of Natural Family Planning (NFP), shared that the evening’s homily struck a chord with him as a husband and a father, “It reminded me of the importance of my role as a father to inculcate the right values in my children.”
After Mass, members of the congregation enjoyed light refreshments, while others gathered at the gardens around the compound to say quiet prayers. There were also guided tours around the Cathedral compound, which included tours of the Cathedral’s Heritage Gallery. In the Art Gallery, a small exhibition was held by 12-year-old Ashley Ann Tan, who donated all her beautiful paintings in order to raise funds for the GIFT campaign. When asked how she feels parting with the artworks she spent months of effort on, Ashley humbly replied, “It’s okay, because it is for a good cause.”
The success of the event has given encouragement to the work of ACF. Said David, who has been leading the Commission for a year: “Pope St John Paul II said: ‘It is … indispensable and urgent that every person of good will should endeavour to save and foster the values and requirements of the Family’. Families are the cradles of faith and love. They are the beacons representing God’s compassion and love that is free, total, faithful and fruitful.”
Photos: VITA Images