PRESS CONFERENCE TO MARK THE BEGINNING OF THE LAGOS ARCHDIOCESAN YEAR OF THE FAMILY 2014.
Tuesday, February 18, 2014 at 11.00am.
In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and the entire faithful of the Archdiocese of Lagos, I warmly welcome you all to this Press Conference. We have invited you to this Press Conference in order to share with you our concerns with regards to the state of marriage and family life as a whole. We, as a local Church are concerned about the decadence in our societies which can be traced to the weakening in marriage and family values. So we in the Archdiocese are saying, “return the families to Christ, heal the individual families and the “Nigerian family” or nation will experience near-instant healing and restoration. Our point is simple and clear: fix the family and you will fix Nigeria and the world. It is in order to achieve this that we have declared 2014 as the Archdiocesan Year of the Family.
THE THEME: FAMILY AS A DOMESTIC CHURCH
In celebrating this year, we have chosen the theme: “The Family as a Domestic Church. This is an ancient expression which was made popular by the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council in a document on the Church, Lumen Gentium, where they assert that: “In what might be regarded as the domestic Church, the parents, by word and example, are the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children (LG 11). In actuality, the idea of the family as a domestic church is not new – it already existed in the time of the early Christians. In those days before the construction of massive Church structures as we have them today began, the faithful often gathered in the homes of some members for worship or the celebration of the Word and the Breaking of Bread as the Eucharist was commonly known at that time. A good example of such gatherings will include the statement in Acts 2:46a, which states: “Every day they devoted themselves to meeting together in the temple area and to breaking bread in their homes.” Other references in the New Testament to Domestic Churches include: Acts 16:40; Romans 16:3; Colossians 4:15 and Philemon verses 1-2.
GOALS OF THE YEAR OF THE FAMILY
We have decided to celebrate the Lagos Archdiocesan Year of the Family with the above theme not just to fulfill all-righteousness. On the contrary, we have goals which we intend to pursue and attain by the grace of God. They include the following:
Greater knowledge of the Teachings of the Catholic Church on Marriage and Family Life.
Creating an awareness of the Call to Holiness for each Member of the Family: father, mother and child.
Building a fraternal bond of unity and friendship in the family.
Reemphasizing the importance of traditional/core values of the Family.
Making personal Commitment to live by the Teachings of Christ as revealed in the Sacred Scriptures and the Teachings of the Church.
Ensuring a new Commitment by the Clergy and Religious to pay more attention to Preparation of Couples for the Sacrament of Marriage.
Encouraging Catechesis on issues that confront Married People in our days, such as Children’s Commitment to the faith, poverty, lack of job opportunities, the challenges of the social media and a host of others.
THE YEAR OF THE FAMILY LOGO/THE EXPLANATION OF THE SYMBOLS
We have designed a logo as you can see on the banner in behind me. There are seven key things that the logo says to us.
v The Inner Circle - represents the Globe (World)
v The Map of Lagos - represents the location of the Archdiocese of Lagos in the world
v The Canoe - represents the pilgrim Church (the Archdiocese of Lagos), a local Church on pilgrimage
v The House with People - represents the Family, which is a domestic Church.
v The Crucifix - represents Christ the Saviour and the cornerstone of the family.
v The Rays from Christ - suggest that the family (the domestic Church) is enlightened and nourished by Christ through his Word and the Eucharist.
v The Rays from the Family to the Outside World - represent the mission of the family to evangelize, that is, to take Jesus to others in the neighbourhood, in the outskirts, and the world at large.
SLOGAN, PRAYER AND SONG FOR THE YEAR OF THE FAMILY
The Slogan for the Year of the Family is: Jesus, Mary and Joseph – Make our Families like unto thine. The holy family of Nazareth, comprising Jesus, Mary and Joseph is our model of an ideal family and our target and prayer is that every individual family will come to be like them to the glory of God. Besides the slogan, we have a Prayer and a Song for the Year of the Family.
We also have a Model of Prayer for the Family which we expect all families to use during the course of the Year. This Model of Prayer is an enriched form of Lectio Divina. It is meant to help families or an entire household pray together on a daily basis. It holds the prospect of improving family-bonding because as one popular saying goes, “The family that prays together, stays together.” Furthermore, it is meant to bring to the consciousness of each father one of his responsibilities as the head of the family, which is ‘to gather the family for prayer.’ The opportunity provided at the beginning of the prayer to confess one’s sins trains every member of the family to do a personal examination of conscience and confession, while the call to forgive one another’s offences has the prospect of helping the family members to resolve their differences quickly before they degenerate and weaken relationships within family.
What most Christians do not realize is that the Bible is not just the Word of God, it is also the first Prayer Book of a Christian. This family prayer, if followed faithfully, is designed to train each member of the family to read the Bible daily, to meditate on it daily, to pray with it every day and to share the Word of God with others or at least two people every day as a way of training him or her to fulfil his or her part in the Church’s mission of evangelization. Besides, the ejaculatory prayer to be formed from the daily Scripture Reading or the fruit of one’s meditation on the reading helps each member of the family to remain focused on God and his Word throughout the day. Certainly, this will strengthen the desire of the individual to practice his faith in the course of the day.
During the year, each member of the family will take turns to lead at the family prayer or devotion or the intercessory prayer. This will train every member to lead prayers in public. The memory verse for each day allows the each member of the family a greater contact with the living Word of God. As Africans, we know the importance of the blessing of parents on their children. This model of prayer trains the father or the head of the family to pronounce blessings on his children or family in the name of the Blessed Trinity on a daily basis. If parents are conscious of what they are doing here and do it wholeheartedly, some who are fond of abusing or placing curses on their children will likely stop, which implies growth in their own Christian life.
THEMES FOR THE YEAR OF THE FAMILY CELEBRATION
To ensure that every Catholic family comes to know the teachings of the Scripture and the Magisterium of the Church on various issues surrounding Christian Marriage and Family, we have come up with over thirty themes on Marriage and Family to be reflected upon and discussed in every parish within the Archdiocese on different Sundays within this liturgical year. The themes cover a wide range of topical issues affecting marriage, family and society, such as respect for human life, childlessness, assisted reproduction and adoption, contraceptives and natural family planning. Others include the place of the Word of God and the Eucharist in the Life of a Christian, responsible fatherhood and motherhood, sexuality education and chastity, formation of children in authentic values, single parenthood, separation, divorce and widowhood, human suffering and the family and charity among other things. Additionally, to ensure that non-Catholics and Catholics outside Lagos benefit from this celebration, efforts are being put in place to involve the social communication media.
OTHER EVENTS DURING THE YEAR
An interesting aspect of the programmes during the year is that no one is left out. In the course of the year, the Archbishop will meet with married people, singles, the youths and children at different times, but the discussion at such meetings will always revolve around the family. Furthermore, there will be a vigil for the Youths in the Archdiocese in August. There will be pilgrimages within the Archdiocese. There will be Group-weddings in all the fifteen deaneries in the Archdiocese and a host of other events geared towards the renewal of the family. In addition to the activities at the archdiocesan level and those we are mandating every parish to celebrate, the parish priests and their Pastoral Councils are expected to organize different activities at the parish level that can help us realize our overall objectives as a Church.
The Year of the Family in question begins officially with an inaugural Mass on Thursday, 27th February at Holy Cross Cathedral at 11.00 am, while it will end on Saturday, 29th November this year. We expect all the priests, religious and many of the lay faithful to be in attendance. During the inaugural Mass in particular, there is provision for a Solemn Personal Re-commitment to Christ by all present and we expect the Parish Priests to repeat it at all their Masses the Sunday after. Similarly, there is a rite for the enthronement of the Bible and the Picture of the Holy Family in homes in the course of the year. This will be conducted by the head of each family, but first, on the Sunday scheduled for the theme, ‘The Family and the Word of God,’ the priest is expected to perform a simple rite enthroning the Bible, which requires the individuals to be committed to daily Bible Reading and meditation.
Already, we have been praying for the success of the entire Programme in the different parishes and we are confident that, with God on our side, everything will work out well and that many marriages and families will be renewed and led to re-dedicate themselves to Christ and to the practice of the Christian and ideals in the course of the year. In conclusion, we thank all of you—pressmen and women— for honouring our invitation to be part of a beautiful programme meant to recover the family and root it in Christ the solid Rock. May God bless and reward you and your families. Amen.
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