Be the face of Compassion, says Bishop Sproxton

30 Apr 2016

By The Record

By Bishop Don Sproxton

There is no doubt that actions and gestures speak louder than words. Another occasion when this was brought out was during the recent celebration of the Day for the Unborn Child on 2 April.

This commemoration is marked annually by the Mass for the Unborn Child at St Mary’s Cathedral on the Saturday closest to the Feast of the Annunciation. The congregation is made up of people who work in Pregnancy Assistance and other agencies that promote respect and the defence for human life, as well as families who have suffered the loss of a child before, during or sometime after their birth.

As a prelude to the Prayers of Intercession, a very poignant procession by the families brought forward flowers to be placed in baskets at the front of the sanctuary. Mothers and fathers, and their children, came forward with their flower. The children, particularly, came forward with great reverence and very gently placed a flower with the others.

Some of the children were so young that they might not have remembered their little brother or sister who had died. Many were old enough to remember. Regardless, it seemed that the families are determined to hold that child in their memory.

The Day for the Unborn Child originated in Argentina in 1999. More and more dioceses have taken up the celebration, with the Archdiocese of Perth celebrating it for ten years.

The Feast of the Annunciation was chosen because, on that day, Christians celebrate Mary’s decision to accept the invitation of God to become a mother. Her womb became the sanctuary of the Son of God.

Some of the mothers told me about the deep healing that has happened for them as they prayed for their little loved one. Others explained how the simple act of giving a name to the child helped them to acknowledge their identity and personality. A renewal of faith for them has meant that they realise their child coming to life in their womb has delighted God, who has made an eternal home for them in heaven.

Parishes have taken up the initiative to celebrate an annual Mass for families who have lost a baby or young child. I have heard from parents how much they appreciate the thoughtfulness and care they have received from their parish community through these occasions.

This is but one way a parish can be the face of compassion this year and beyond.


From page 5 from Issue 2: ‘Family: What does it mean in 2016?’ of The Record Magazine