By Sarah Mac Donald - 03 December, 2019
Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam marked the first Sunday of Advent by launching a new pastoral message on prayer and a family prayer card to help families “relate to our God in a trusting and caring manner”.
The new prayer resource, Prayers For My Family, is available in both English and Irish and was given out at Masses across the archdiocese of Tuam over the weekend.
It is also available to download from https://www.tuamarchdiocese.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/Prayer-for-WEB-2.pdf
In his pastoral letter, Archbishop Neary admits that he like many others finds it “very difficult” to pray. “Is there anyone who finds prayer easy?”, he asks.
“Depending on your life experience, you have your own ways of praying, whether on your own or in the company of others, whether in petition or thanksgiving.”
The Archbishop explains that many families, even though under pressure with work and life, requested something to help them to pray.
They were looking for something short, simple but related to their experience of life, love, family, friends, study, joy and disappointment.
Acknowledging that the family home is a hive of activity between homework, television, different members of the family rushing off to training, music, visiting friends, there are so many things to which we must attend.
In these situations the opportunity for family prayer is very reduced, Dr Neary admits.
The new prayer card is an attempt, he says, to relate “all of these experiences to God and enable us to relate to our God in a trusting and caring manner.”
“Contrast with years gone by, where there was no television, no internet, very restricted mobility, it was common for families to come together and pray the rosary. Granted during the rosary, not all the focus was on prayer, we coped with distractions and little side shows as children and had to be corrected and called to order by parents.”
He explains how through “our experiences of prayer in the home it is hoped that when we come together to worship God as a community at Mass we will bring with us a more meaningful experience of a God who is part of our daily life, interested in who we are, what we do and those with whom we interact”.
In the pastoral message, Archbishop Neary states that when we pray as members of a family we recognise that we are also members of God’s family, with corresponding responsibilities and links to other families.
“All of this helps us to broaden our horizon, recognise our limitations, be grateful for the gifts that we have and remind us that these gifts ought to be used generously for others. We do not have all the answers. We search in different places for answers to our questions.”
“Created by God, loved and cherished by Jesus Christ, we struggle to find meaning in our lives as we endeavour to discover God’s plan for us. He has given us a privileged insight when he sent his son Jesus Christ to live among us. Jesus taught us how to pray.”
Dr Neary concludes his message by hoping that the prayer card will be of “help to you and to those with whom you live as together we endeavour to become a praying people”.