At one of his weekly Angelus addresses in 2015, Pope Francis reminded the Church that “the family that lives the joy of life, the joy of faith, spontaneously communicating it, is the salt of the earth and light of the world. It is the leaven for all of society.” Our Third Order apostolate here in the United States for the months of March and April saw this truth come to life in special way with the celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day and the Easter Octave.
On Saturday, March 17, the IVE parishes at Chillum and Mt. Rainier in held a Saint Patrick’s Day celebration in conjunction with the monthly Family Formation Night. Festivities started at 6:45 and continued until past 9:00 o’clock with a riotous cena & fogon that included a visit from Saint Patrick himself.
A guest speaker from the Archdiocese of Washington presented a talk on the virtues and raising children. Her talk emphasized the need for parents to train their children in the cardinal virtues focusing on different areas depending on the age of the child. While the parents listened to this talk, games and other events were carried out for the children and young adults. Games for the kids was the order of the afternoon.
Young adults also received a talk on the importance of “Saving Truths” as a necessary component of our moral life and formation. After the presentations everyone gathered for a delicious meal and some fine conversation with friends. A fogon capped off the night with traditional Irish songs and “jigs” with a final play offered by the St. Philip Neri group complete with a visit from a leprechaun, basketball star, the Hulk, Peter Pan, and finally Saint Patrick.
In the play, Saint Patrick taught the children that the leprechaun’s gold, the basketball star’s fame, the Hulk’s strength, and Peter Pan’s promise of eternal youth cannot make us happy. Only God can.
Everyone loved the message, especially the kids.
March’s Family Formation Night in honor of the Apostle of Ireland was topped only by April’s Easter festivities. The Family Formation Night for April became “Family Day” at St. John Baptist de la Salle, since the Saturday of the Easter Octave also fell on the same day as the parish’s patronal feast.
In honor of the Lord’s Resurrection and St. John Baptist de la Salle the day-long festival included entertainment for kids both young and old alike in the form of an inflatable obstacle course and foosball field, Bingo, a photo booth and face painting. Special characters such as a Ninja Turtle, Toy Soldier, and Gumby, even made a surprise visit to excite the children.
Following the morning of games and activities, all present took part in the celebration of the Vigil of Divine Mercy. At the Mass, Fr. Diego Ruiz also took the opportunity to renew the parish’s consecration to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. To close out the day, the entire parish family joined the Religious Family for a small reception in the hall.
In a world mesmerized by artificial happiness, someone on the outside looking in would have seen these celebrations like simple “parties”. These occasions, however, were more than parties, they were feasts. Our springtime of feasts shared among families were opportunities to remember the true source of our joy: Christ and the “wonderful exchange” He offers us through His Paschal Mystery. This “wonderful exchange” is not only a promise of Christ, but a witness lived by the life of the saints. Both invite us as individuals and families to live this vocation to the fullest. In living our vocation to holiness—sharing in the Divine life God offers us through Christ, the Word made flesh and Victor over sin and death—we find our truest joy.
May this joy of salvation be the joy that permeates every family in our province and most especially every family belonging to our Third Order. May their witness to “the joy of life [and] the joy of faith” be the salt of the earth here in America.
-Mr. Nicholas Clemens, Third Order Member & Fr. Christopher Etheridge, IVE