CHILDREN ADORN CHRIST THE KING’s FEAST OF IMMACULATE CONCEPTION AT GLEN BURNIE
The presence of two children’s choirs gave the 2016 Feast of Immaculate Conception at the Glen Burnie parish a unique outlook. The event which was organized by the Family Apostolate witnessed performances from the Family Mass Choir at Monsignor Slade and the Saint Philomena Homeschool choir from Ellicott City both in Maryland. The children added glamor to the Feast.
While the Family Mass choir rendered the English Marian hymns, the Homeschool kids of Saint Philomena provided special Latin chants, Eucharistic hymns and special Marian songs which made the evening colorful. Clad in their black and white uniforms, the kids appeared as if set for a performance at the Vatican arena. Parents and families who attended the event were thrilled.
The Immaculate Conception is a catholic feast which celebrates the conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary on December 8th annually. The 2016 celebration was held at the Church of Crucifixion. It provided an opportunity for the parish community to pray together before Christ exposed on the altar and to celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary who was conceived without original sin. The Catholic church teaches that as the Mother of Christ, Mary was uniquely prepared to be holy and spotless from birth. She received special grace and favors from God for the incarnation of Christ to take place through her.
To mark this annual solemnity at Glen Burnie, the Family Apostolate usually organizes special events which brings the parishioners together in prayer. For the 2016 celebration, kids played an extraordinary role. Other than the singing, the kids brought the petition basket to the altar. The children also led the cutting of the Marian cake. The congregation lined up for a candle-lit living rosary, followed by a talk on Mary and a benediction at the end.
“The future of the world and the Church passes through the family.” These prophetic words of Saint John Paul II show how the Church, in our time, must, above all, defend and promote the beauty of the Christian family in fidelity to God’s design. In his post-synodal Exhortation on the Family, Amoris Lætitia (“The Joy of Love”), Pope Francis states clearly: “In no way must the Church desist from proposing the full ideal of marriage, God’s plan in all its grandeur … proposing less than what Jesus offers to the human being.” This is why the Holy Father openly and vigorously defends Church teaching on contraception, abortion, homosexuality, reproductive technologies, the education of children and much more. In my first five years as Archbishop of Conakry (Guinea, Africa), I made it my task to dedicate all of my pastoral letters to the family. Perhaps only the beauty of the family can reawaken the longing for God in the innermost recesses of the conscience of our brothers and sisters, and heal the wounds inflicted on our humanity by sin.
Saint John Paul, the Pope of the new evangelization, describes in Familiaris Consortio how the family is the first place where the Gospel is welcomed and is also the first herald of the Gospel. How true this is!
The generous and responsible love of spouses, made visible through the self-giving of parents, who welcome and nurture children as a gift of God, makes love visible in our generation. It makes present the perfect charity of the Trinity. “If you see charity, you see the Trinity,” wrote Saint Augustine.
From the beginning of creation, God, who is a communion of persons – Father, Son and Holy Spirit, three different Persons, yet one – has built a Trinitarian structure into our very nature. In the continent of my origin, Africa, we declare: “Man is nothing without woman, woman is nothing without man, and the two are nothing without a third element, which is the child.” The Triune God dwells within each of us and imbues our whole being: God’s own image and likeness.
Every human being, like the persons of the Trinity, has the capacity to be united with other persons in communion through the vinculum caritatis – the bond of charity – of the Holy Spirit. The family is a natural preparation and anticipation of the communion that is possible when we are united with God. The family, as it were, is a natural praeparatio evangelica – written into our nature.
This is why the devil is so intent on destroying the family. If the family is destroyed, we lose our God-given, anthropological foundations and so find it more difficult to welcome the saving Good News of Jesus Christ: self-giving, fruitful love.
St. John Paul explained: if it is true that the family is the place where more than anywhere else human beings can flourish and truly be themselves, it is also a place where human beings can be humanly and spiritually wounded.
The rupture of the foundational relationships of someone’s life – through separation, divorce or distorted impositions of the family, such as cohabitation and same sex unions – is a deep wound that closes the heart to self-giving love unto death, and even leads to cynicism and despair.
These situations cause damage to little children through inflicting upon them a deep existential doubt about love. They are a scandal – a stumbling block – that prevents the most vulnerable from believing in such love, and a crushing burden that can prevent them from opening to the healing power of the Gospel.
Advanced societies, including – I regret – this nation have done and continue to do everything possible to legalize such situations. But this can never be a truthful solution. It is like putting bandages on an infected wound. It will continue to poison the body until antibiotics are taken.
Sadly, the advent of artificial reproductive technologies, surrogacy, so-called homosexual “marriage”, and other evils of gender ideology, will inflict even more wounds in the midst of the generations we live with.
This is why it is so important to fight to protect the family, the first cell of the life of the Church and every society. This is not about abstract ideas. It is not an ideological war between competing ideas. This is about defending ourselves, children and future generations from a demonic ideology that says children do not need mothers and fathers. It denies human nature and wants to cut off entire generations from God.
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