Mothers' Prayers celebrated their twentieth annivesary with a Mass offered by Bishop Peter Doyle, Bishop of Northampton and Chair of the Bishops' Conference Marriage and Family Life Committee, at Westminster Cathedral on 31 October 2015.
Bishop Peter congratulated the organisation on behalf of Cardinal Vincent. He said he 'was deeply touched by the depth and simplicity' of the mothers' faith and the 'way you journey with each other as you pray for your children and grandchildren'.
He went on to acknowledge Mothers' Prayers as 'coming out of the prayer of the flock of Christ, out of the prayer of faithful mothers sometimes at the end of their tether because of their love for their children'.
Reflecting on the role of Our Lady as model of the Church and the events of the Annunciation, Bishop Peter said 'We too can enter that Gospel of prayer in the company of Mary because we are blessed and favoured through her Son as daughters and sons of the Father. There is no need for us to be afraid, however impossible the situation is with our children, for nothing is impossible to God because of the power of the Holy Spirit.'
Mothers' Prayers was formed to help mothers who wished to pray together for their children and their grandchildren and to find mutual support. For more details and how to join, please visit mothersprayers.org.
Bishop Peter pictured at St Peter's Basilica. Photo: Mazur/catholicnews.org.
The text of Bishop Peter's homily in full:
Dear Sisters and Brothers,
I want to begin by congratulating all of you who are part of Mothers’ Prayers on your twentieth anniversary. I do so, first and foremost, on behalf of the Cardinal who is really sorry that he cannot be with you. On Monday he and I returned from the Synod in Rome on Marriage and the Family. Now he is in Madrid at an international conference on people trafficking.
The Cardinal’s absence does mean that I have the joy and the privilege of being with you to celebrate this Mass in honour of Our Blessed Lady to mark your twentieth anniversary.
As I read all the information you sent me about Mothers’ Prayers, I was deeply touched by the depth and simplicity of your faith and especially by the way in which you journey with each other as you pray for your children and grandchildren.
That image of you journeying together took me back exactly two weeks to the Audience Hall at St Peter’s where there was a celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Synod of Bishops, a fruit of the Second Vatican Council, where bishops from around the world gather with the Holy Father every three years to reflect on different important matters bearing on the life and mission of the Church.
At that celebration, Pope Francis spoke of a synodal Church. By that he meant a Church in which all of us, people and pastors and the Bishop of Rome, journey together in faith and with trust in the Holy Spirit. He said that that was an idea easy to put into words but not so easy to put into practice.
Pope Francis spoke of all of us who are baptised, whatever our position in the Church and whatever our level of instruction, being agents of evangelisation. It is not just something ‘for the professionals’. All of us are to be engaged because, as Pope Francis put it, the flock of Christ has a certain ‘nose’ for discerning the new ways the Lord makes known to the Church.
I think that we see that idea taking flesh in Mothers’ Prayers coming out of the prayer of the flock of Christ,, out of the prayer of faithful mothers sometimes at the end of their tether because of their love for their children. Yes, I think that Mothers’ Prayers are a reflection of the synodal Church about which Pope Francis was speaking – a Church which is open, ecumenical and embracing of all people, especially those in need. I know that that is true of Mothers’ Prayers. Thanks be to God.
Of course, the model of the Church, the exemplar for every member of the Church, is Mary, Mother of Christ and Mother of the Church. Today’s Gospel of the Annunciation is a Gospel of Prayer, of the prayer of a mother to be, a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David: and the virgin’s name was Mary.
Mary is greeted with joy – Rejoice so highly favoured! The Lord is with you. She is told not to be afraid and to listen. When told that she is to conceive and bear a son, she is very natural and asks how this can come about. ‘By the power of the Holy Spirit,’ Gabriel answers. And, as a sign that nothing is impossible to God, Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, would in her old age conceive and bear a son. That dialogue, that prayer ultimately of listening is completed in Mary’s prayer of obedience – ‘I am the handmaiden of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me.’
And we, too, can enter that Gospel of prayer in the company of Mary because we are blessed and favoured through her Son as daughters and sons of the Father. There is no need for us to be afraid, however impossible the situation is with our children, for nothing is impossible to God because of the power of the Holy Spirit.
I know that you live the prayer of the Annunciation in your Mothers’ Prayers’ groups. And I know how much fruit those groups have borne and continue to bear in prayers answered for children and grandchildren and in the growth of you who are mothers in your love and support for one another.
On this twentieth anniversary of Mothers’ Prayers, we give thanks for those of you who responded to God in bringing this initiative about. We give thanks for the prayers of Mothers’ Prayers’ groups around the world and for their witness to Jesus Christ and to the power of his Spirit, and we ask the intercession of Mother Mary that Mothers’ Prayers’ groups may continue to flourish and bear fruit, proclaiming unceasingly the Good News of Jesus Christ.
Bishop Peter Doyle
Bishop of Northampton
Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Marriage and Family Life Committee