Celebrating the Family
A commemorative reflection in the words of Pope Francis as the World Synod on the Family concludes with a Papal visit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania September 2015.
Excerpted from the Wednesday General Audiences of Pope Francis in 2015.
These excerpts were selected by Saint Dennis Pastor Father Randy Timmerman to recognize the far-reaching power of a strong family and to inspire action to preserve it.
Full, printable content of Father Randy’s selections:
The Importance of Family
Jesus was born in a family.
He could have come in a spectacular way, or as a warrior, an emperor…. No, no: He is born in a family, in a family.
This is important: to perceive in the nativity, this beautiful scene.
And this is the great mission of the family: to make room for Jesus who is coming, to welcome Jesus in the family, in each member: children, husband, wife, grandparents…. Jesus is there. Welcome Him there, in order that He grow spiritually in the family.
Mothers are the strongest antidote to the spread of self-centered individualism. “Individual” means “what cannot be divided”. Mothers, instead, “divide” themselves, from the moment they bear a child to give him to the world and help him grow.
The first need, then, is precisely this: that a father be present in the family. To say “present” is not to say “controlling”! Fathers who are too controlling cancel out their children, they don’t let them develop. A good father knows how to wait and knows how to forgive from the depths of his heart.
Children are a gift: children are loved before they arrive…. In the soul of every child, inasmuch as it is vulnerable, God places the seal of this love, which is at the basis of his/her personal dignity, a dignity which nothing and no one can ever destroy.
We are all sons and daughters. And this always brings us back to the fact that we did not give ourselves life but that we received it. The great gift of life is the first gift that we received. Sometimes in life we risk forgetting about this, as if we were the masters of our existence, and instead we are fundamentally dependent.
In reality, it is a motive of great joy to feel at every stage of life, in every situation, in every social condition, that we are and we remain sons and daughters. This is the main message that children give us, by their very presence: simply by their presence they remind us that each and every one of us is a son or daughter.
Male and Female
But man and woman alone are made in the image and likeness of God: the biblical text repeats it three times in two passages (Gn: 26-27): man and woman are the image and likeness of God. This tells us that it is not man alone who is the image of God or woman alone who is the image of God, but man and woman as a couple who are the image of God. The difference between man and woman is not meant to stand in opposition, or to subordinate, but is for the sake of communion and generation, always in the image and likeness of God.
A marriage consecrated by God safeguards that bond between man and woman that God has blessed from the very creation of the world; and it is the source of peace and goodness for the entire lifetime of the marriage and family.
When Christians marry “in the Lord,” they are transformed into an effective sign of God’s love. Christians do not marry for themselves alone: they marry in the Lord for the good of the entire community, society as a whole.
The sacrament of marriage is a great act of faith and love: a witness to the courage to believe in the beauty of the creative act of God and to live that love that is always urging us to go on, beyond ourselves and even beyond our own family.
Family Life: Celebration, Work and Prayer
Celebrations … are the invention of God, who on the seventh day rested from his work … dedicating time to contemplating and enjoying the fruits of our labors. … True moments of celebration make us pause from our work, because they remind us that we are made in the image and likeness of God.
The obsession with economic profit and technical efficiency puts the human rhythms of life at risk. Moments of rest, especially on Sunday, are sacred because in them we find God. The Sunday Eucharist brings to our celebrations every grace of Jesus Christ: His presence, His love and His sacrifice; His forming us into a community, and His way of being with us. Everything is transfigured by His grace: work, family, the joys and trials of each day, even our sufferings and death.
May we always recognize the family as the privileged place to understand, guide and sustain the gifts which arise from our celebrations, especially the Sunday Eucharist.
The Lord never discards us. He calls us to follow Him in every age of life, and old age has a grace and a mission too, a true vocation from the Lord. Old age is a vocation.
The prayer of grandparents and of the elderly is a great gift for the Church, it is a treasure! A great injection of wisdom for the whole of human society: above all for one which is too busy, too taken, too distracted.
We are able to thank the Lord for the benefits received, and fill the emptiness of ingratitude that surrounds us. We are able to intercede for the expectations of younger generations and give dignity to the memory and sacrifices of past generations. We are able to remind ambitious young people that a life without love is a barren life. We are able say to young people who are afraid that anxiety about the future can be overcome. We are able to teach the young who are overly self-absorbed that there is more joy in giving than in receiving. Grandparents form the enduring “chorus” of a great spiritual sanctuary, where prayers of supplication and songs of praise sustain the community which toils and struggles in the field of life.
How I would like a Church that challenges the throw-away culture with the overflowing joy of a new embrace between young and old!
The Church cannot and does not want to conform to a mentality of impatience, and much less of indifference and contempt, towards old age. We must reawaken the collective sense of gratitude, of appreciation, of hospitality, which makes the elder feel like a living part of his community.
Where there is no honor for elders, there is no future for the young.Posted: September 14, 2015