Archbishop's Message

Family Prayer Lessons from the Pentecostal Family in the Upper Room

Dear brothers and sisters in Jesus Christ,

The Solemnity of Pentecost that we celebrate on the 20th of this month is a powerful and inspiring symbol for our continued reflection on Family Prayer.

The Acts of the Apostles is clear in stating that the Church was born in the 'Upper Room'. The outpouring of the Holy Spirit was to mark the birth of the infant Church; and what is interesting to observe is the fact that for ten days this family was gathered in the place of united prayer, until the heavens were opened and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4).

In many respects, this eve-of-Pentecost family prayer is a model that can serve as a source of inspirations for our family prayers too. Let us begin by observing the list of members gathered in the upper room to pray:

1.Peter, James, John, and Andrew; Philip and Thomas; Bartholomew and Matthew; James the son of Alphaeus and Simon the Zealot; and Judas the son of James. (Acts 1:13)

The apostles, who once denied, betrayed and deserted Jesus are now gathered in the upper room, forgiven by the gift of Peace from the Risen Lord and strengthened by the Good News of the Lord’s Resurrection.

Just as the family in the upper room, every family is tossed by storms of denials, betrayals and desertions. Pope Francis rightly observes, There is no perfect family. We have no perfect parents, we are not perfect, do not get married to a perfect person, neither do we have perfect children. We have complaints about each other. We are disappointed by one another.

To this reality of our family lives, the Holy Father proposes a remedy, There is no healthy marriage or healthy family without the exercise of forgiveness. Forgiveness is vital to our emotional health and spiritual survival. Without forgiveness the family becomes a theater of conflict and a bastion of grievances. Without forgiveness the family becomes sick. Forgiveness is the sterilization of the soul, cleansing the mind and the liberation of the heart.

Each time we gather together as a family to pray, we need to remind ourselves that we are all weak and therefore we need each other’s forgiveness. A true model of family prayer cannot work without reconciliation and mutual forgiveness. This is the first lesson of the Pentecostal Family Prayer.

2.They were gathered together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus, and His brothers (Acts 1:14)

Mother Mary was present together with the apostles praying with them and praying for them. Brothers and sisters, our family prayer can become effective and purposeful when we have our Blessed Mother, praying with us and for us in our family prayers too.

  • Just as John took Mother Mary into his home (John 19:27);
  • Just as the Apostles accepted Mother Mary as their co-pilgrim in the upper room (Acts 1:14);
  • We need to enthrone Mother Mary to be our intercessor in our family prayers.

3. They continued with one accord in prayer and supplication (Acts 1:14)

They persevered in praying together. The family of the upper room teaches us the meaning of praying “together”. Praying together does not only mean praying in the presence of each other but also praying with one mind and one heart, praying with unanimity about the matters for which we pray, praying with a perfect harmony among each other. When love fills our hearts, we enjoy the unity of the Spirit enabling us to pray together.

Dear brothers and sisters, I invite you to contemplate on this inspiring model of the family of the upper room and emulate its lessons in our family prayers. May the outpouring of the Holy Spirit inspire us to pray together meaningfully as the domestic church.

 

With prayerful wishes,

 

Most Rev. George Antonysamy

Archbishop of Madras - Mylapore