My Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
Let me wish you and all your loved ones a very Happy & Blessed Christmas! You are very welcome here today to celebrate the Birthday of Our Lord & Saviour Jesus Christ. If you are a visitor to our Parish for the first time I hope you have enjoyed this wonderful celebration. If you have been away from the practice of your faith for a period of time ‘Welcome Home for Christmas!’ It is truly wonderful to have you here with us; you are part of this Christian Family!
In an age when Christianity and Religion appear to have been relegated to the ‘insignificant pending tray’, I would like to take this opportunity of inviting those who have been away from the practice of the Roman Catholic Faith, for whatever reason, to seriously think about ‘Coming Home!’ We live in an age of apathy, indifference, secularism, materialism, and a culture that often promotes individualism, but still many people are unsatisfied; often looking for a real meaning in their lives.
‘COMING HOME’ – LANDINGS: – is a programme to help those who have been away from the Church for a long time to slowly and gradually reintegrate back into the regular practice of faith. In the New Year of 2019 the Parish will initiate the opportunity for those who have been away to come to very informal meetings run by Catechists and Fr John to help each person recognise their own rightful place in the life of faith and the Church. Each one of us has so much to offer, and we should never underestimate what Almighty God can do in, and through us!
Landings is a place of compassionate listening. The group listens respectfully and without judgement to one-another’s faith story and reflections on the theme, viewing each as something uniquely personal and sacred. Participants are invited to be honest and open about struggles with their faith. Participants are asked to share only what they feel comfortable sharing. Listeners are bound by confidentiality to promote sharing. Landings doesn’t attempt to ‘fix’ problems. Those with particular issues are invited to consult with specialised professionals – counsellors, priests, religious – who can help with specific needs.
I’m sure we all have vivid memories of coming to Church with our parents when we were young; being prepared for First Holy Communion, & Confirmation. For the most part, these are good memories! The gathering together for the Eucharist on a Sunday Morning is still the main event in the life of the Roman Catholic. Participating in the mass is central to being Catholic. For some people, they may have got out of the practice of faith; others may have had a bad experience in life which turned them away from the Church, others may have lost a loved one and feel angry with God; whatever the reason we are not here to judge! We are here to love, encourage, support, help and listen. Sometimes people just want to be heard!
If you, or anyone you know, a family member, friend or colleague, has been away from the regular practice of their faith for a long time, please tell them about this programme. Hopefully this little message is just one way that God might be ‘Calling you Home!’ What more beautiful occasion than Christmas to feel the real beauty of God’s love for us in sending us his Son, Jesus Christ. In the innocence of the Christ-child God entered our world and he desperately wants each one of us to be part of his!
Even if you feel nervous or afraid to come back to Church, just ask the Holy Spirit for the strength & courage to make this bold move, you won’t regret it! For some, you may wish to speak to a Catechist or Fr John in advance of returning; this is also important. There may be issues that you wish to speak privately about. A compassionate and open door will be waiting for you.
2019 is a New Year. This may be your Special Year, for all sorts of reasons! Please consider all that has been shared in this little bulletin. This may be a New Beginning for you, and your family!
With Love & Peace to You All this Christmastide!