On Saturday 22nd June the Archdiocese of Johannesburg held its AMOF, the Archdiocesan Meeting of Families.   It was in fact hosted and presented by the Youth Department for the families.    I participated as MARFAM, with a particular focus on  Eco-Friendly Families. We hosted a stall under the section and banner of Vocations, after all marriage and family life are vocations, the most common ones in the Church.  However we’re well aware that the vocation to marriage is on the decrease but nevertheless everyone belongs to a family of some kind, in some way, as was mentioned in the homily at Mass.  Pope Francis often decries the growing sense of individualism which almost seeks to divorce a person from a connection with a family and the relationships it offers.  At the event there was a great sense of community, although it was clear that there were many young people there on their own, or from parish youth groups, rather than participating as families. It is recognized as a feature of the age that peer contact is more welcome than any form of family.     

In the area of eco-friendly families I enjoyed the chance for a brief input to the gathered crowds in the midst of the Family Festival part of the day, where talents and skills were on full display, with much singing and dancing.  I started with the Michael Jackson song, “Don’t kill the world” and shared on slogans from the reflection poster prepared for the day.  This was intended to give families a range of ideas and slogans, some from Laudato Si and referring to the upcoming Season of Creation.  The aim is to give suggestions to choose a cause for their own journey to become more eco-friendly, or EFF as I said.  Yes, “fix families first” is important but “healthy families are happy families”  and “each one, teach one” are all practical active ways to build family life while we “go green, grow green.”  We know that “love gives life” and  “love will keep us together” while we choose to “preserve wild life.”   I found the mood and the atmosphere at the event exciting enough to suggest that instead of “Families walk the talk”  another way is “Families dance the dance,”  as the  “Children deserve a future.

Also during last week I presented a short input to a group of senior citizens at a parish lunch, reflecting on their intergenerational relationships.  Much more will be considered on this subject in July with the theme of
“Grandparents as Family Roots.”    Another presentation, during an unusually busy week, was a lengthier one on the topic  of the 2024 International Year of the Family 30th anniversary theme, FAMILIES AND CLIMATE CHANGE” at the SA Social Development Department Family Services Forum.  This is part of MARFAM’s ECO-FRIENDLY FAMILIES  campaign.     

It is my experience visiting many African parishes that singing and dancing as part of the liturgy are ways that teenagers, women, but men too, express their joy in their faith and worship.  But my question to all families is “How do we express what Pope Francis calls “The Joy of Love” (Amoris Laetitia) in our homes?   Singing and dancing is not part of everyone’s cup of tea or culture but we do need children to teach us and show us these simple joys of life.  Everyone needs to play, even grown-up children have their ways to play, whether with a kitten or a puppy,  or in a sporting game unless it becomes too serious. But while gaming is a big fad these day ideally they should not be “played alone” on a phone or computer.

I said earlier, “Each one, teach one,” Let our children teach us again how to play, simply and happily,  while we as their elders teach them to pray.  There is a well-known saying, “The family that prays together stays together.”  Well, I so often add when I am reminding parishioners, “The family that prays and plays together stays together.”  That is one of the ways to ensure that “children deserve a future” and according to the June theme “Children belong in families.”    



June 26.  Beware of false prophets. Mary and her son Patrick really tried to tease out this statement that Jesus made. “Beware of false prophets. You will know them by their fruits.” From Matt 7:15-20.  “Why do so many, young people especially, go to some of the new churches?”  “Their services are more fun, with more singing and dancing and they really make us feel welcome.  Is there something wrong with that?” “Maybe not, but maybe they are more concerned about themselves and enjoyment and even about prosperity, rather than about caring for others as Jesus asked of us.” “And we Catholics have the Mass, the real presence of Jesus with us.” “I know that but it is still hard to understand what is happening, and probably too early to see the fruits we should look for,” Patrick stated.

Pope Francis:  In union with Jesus, we seek what he seeks and we love what he loves. In the end what we are seeking is the glory of the Father.  This is our definitive, deepest and greatest motivation. We need to leave behind every other motivation. EG 267   ACTION AND PRAYER. How can your love for God grow more person?