You will describe the home and family that is yours in different ways. Your home will be different in appearance. You will have perhaps moved many times. You may not be smiling all of the time, your relationships stretched unbearably by the pull of contemporary life - oppressed by the pressures of just getting by.

Despite all of this, you will also look to your home and family as a primary source of nurture and meaning. The home as an image contains within itself a clue to the way we understand ourselves and the world. The term home has religious associations for us as well. It is the place of ultimate rest and comfort, of belonging and identity, of being with God. Home therefore is a HOLY PLACE

Home a Holy Place Our first reaction to the idea that our home could be a holy place might well be, not my home it's just too messy. Yet you are probably very wrong because you make the common mistake about what holiness really is. Holiness is quite simply letting God into your life and into the life of your family. It has nothing to do with outward appearances but everything to do with inner spiritual realities. Holiness is not something we put on like some form of clothing, it is something we are due to our willingness to let God into our lives. The measure therefore of our holiness is how close we are to God, how much of a part do we allow God to play in our lives and in the lives of our family and to that extent we can grow in holiness or not.

All those therefore who have been baptised are holy from that point and remain holy in some way or form for as long as they allow God to be part of their lives. The Christian home is therefore full of holy people and by virtue of that alone is a HOLY PLACE.

So how do we keep our Home as a HOLY PLACE, how do we keep God in our lives and along with our families grow closer to God and thus make our homes even holier? The simple answer is to do all that we can to do what God asks of us both individually and as a family and to help us know what he wants of us, he has given us the commandments and the Church to guide us in making the right choices.

That "Simple" answer can seem very formal and perhaps at times off putting and yet families are involved every day in doing exactly what God and his Church asks them to do. Every family has its fair share of conflict and loving each other in a loving family can be tough. Yet families are constantly practicing gospel values with qualities such as generosity, openness and forgiveness. It is through qualities such as love and reconciliation that families find the grace to move towards the desire of Jesus "that they may be one."

We often think of our family lives as separate to the Church and its mission and yet it is not. When you teach your children and they teach you what it means to love, pray, to celebrate the sacraments and to serve your neighbour, you are not just "helping" the Church's Mission, you are

Home is a Holy Place LIVING IT

The family no matter how messy it might be at times is central to the life and mission of the Church and the Church recognises this by calling the family the "Domestic or Little Church"

So how does a family stay open to God especially in our world which makes so many demands of each member and which constantly offers so many "alternatives" which can take us away from God and often cause severe disruption and harm to individual members and often to the whole family?

olsots Firstly we have to recognise that God is present within our family even at its messiest moments and we need to remind ourselves constantly of that fact. We can do this through the daily event of the family meal with its prayers before and after; by trying to make a quiet place in our home where we can go to get away from the pressures and give us time to gather our thoughts and let God help us with whatever problem we may have and to have around us symbols of our faith such as a holy picture, a crucifix, a palm, a statue of our Blessed Lady or a favourite saint.

These symbols remind us that we are part of the long and rich history of Christianity. They make tangible our identity as members of the Christian family which is an extension of our own.

Suggestions for Healthy Family Relationships

1. Communicate and Listen
2. Affirm and support one another
3.  Teach respect for others
3.  Teach respect for others
4.  Develop a sense of trust
5.  Have a sense of play and humour
6.  Exhibit a sense of shared responsibility
7.  Teach a sense of right and wrong
8.  Have a strong sense of family in which rituals and tradition abound
9.  Have a balance of interaction among members
10.  Have a shared religious core
11.  Respect the privacy of one another
12.  Value service to others
13.  Foster family table time and conversation
14.  Share leisure time
15.  Admit to seek and help with problems

House Blessings: A House Blessing is a very ancient Catholic Tradition. The aim is to have a Priest or a Deacon come to the home and in a short ceremony of prayer with the family have the Priest or Deacon bless the whole house with Holy water thus ensuring that the house is a fitting place for God to dwell in and keeping evil out.

Oppportunities: Throughout the year we hope as a parish to provide various opportunities for all the homes in our parish family to grow even more in holiness by offering opportunities both religious and secular for our families to come together in support of each other and in sharing what we have both materially and spiritually. Please watch out for these forthcoming events in the Newsletter and if you are able, come and join in and share your family with all the others.

Holy Mass: At present of course we have the opportunity every week to come together as a family to worship almighty God around the table of the Eucharist so that we can draw from his goodness the food that will build all our families up and bring them together as one.

In this parish we have three occasions to do this, on Saturday evenings at 6.p.m. in St. Joseph's church. On Sunday morning at 9.a.m. in St. Joseph's church and on Sunday morning at 11.a.m. in St. Augustine's church.

No matter how messy or broken your family may be at any time they will always be welcome in the house of the Lord for you and your family are part of his family and he will always welcome you.

Should you wish to arrange a House Blessing or to contact someone to discuss further anything mentioned here, then please contact The Parish Office:

Telephone: 01305 786033
See also the Home is a Holy Place website

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