If we read the Bible from beginning to end, we see a progressive revelation (or at least a progressive realization on our part) of the non-violence of God, a revelation that ends in Jesus who reveals a God of radical non-violence. Fr. Ron Rolheiser, OMI
Our faulty idea of the God of the Old Testament, who seemingly orders the extermination of whole peoples, is indeed primitive and superstitious when placed beside the concept of the Father of Jesus who sends his son into the world as a helpless infant and then lets him die helpless before a mocking crowd. The God whom Jesus reveals is devoid of all violence and asks that we no longer do violence in God's name.
To offer just one example: In John's Gospel (8, 2-11), we see the story of the woman who has been caught in adultery. As John tells the story: A crowd of pious persons bring her to Jesus and tell him that they have caught her in the very act of committing adultery and that Moses (their primary interpreter of God's will) has ordered that for this offense, she needs to be put to death. Jesus, for his part, says nothing, instead he bends down and begins to write on the ground with his finger. Then he tells them: "Let the person among you without sin cast the first stone!" Jesus bends down and writes for a second time with his finger. Unbelievably, they get the message and lay down their stones and go away.
The key for interpretation of this story is Jesus' gesture of writing on the ground with his finger. Who writes with his finger? Who writes twice? God does, writing with his finger, twice! What God wrote are the Ten Commandments, and God had to write them twice because Moses "broke" them the first time. Coming down the mountain, carrying the tablets of the commandments, Moses caught the people in the very act of committing idolatry. Gripped in a fever of religious and moral fervor, Moses broke the tables of stone on the golden calf and on peoples' heads. Moses was the first person to break the commandments and he broke them physically, thinking violence needed to be done for God's cause. Then, having broken them, he needed to go up the mountain a second time and have them rewritten by God; but before rewriting them, God gave Moses a stern message: Don't stone people with the Commandments! Don't do violence in my name! The people who wanted to stone the woman caught in adultery understood Jesus' gesture. Their divine interpreter, Moses, had it wrong.
Too often we are still, in a variety of forms, stoning people with the Commandments, falsely believing that God wants this violence.
Here is the Vatican-provided translation of Pope Francis’ homily at the canonization of Blessed Mother Teresa, held in St. Peter’s Square on Sunday (Sept. 4th) morning:
“Who can learn the counsel of God?” (Wis 9:13). This question from the Book of Wisdom that we have just heard in the first reading suggests that our life is a mystery and that we do not possess the key to understanding it. There are always two protagonists in history: God and man. Our task is to perceive the call of God and then to do his will. But in order to do his will, we must ask ourselves, “What is God’s will in my life?”
We find the answer in the same passage of the Book of Wisdom: “People were taught what pleases you” (Wis 9:18). In order to ascertain the call of God, we must ask ourselves and understand what pleases God. On many occasions the prophets proclaimed what was pleasing to God. Their message found a wonderful synthesis in the words “I want mercy, not sacrifice” (Hos 6:6; Mt9:13). God is pleased by every act of mercy, because in the brother or sister that we assist, we recognize the face of God which no one can see (cf. Jn 1:18). Each time we bend down to the needs of our brothers and sisters, we give Jesus something to eat and drink; we clothe, we help, and we visit the Son of God (cf. Mt25:40). In a word, we touch the flesh of Christ.
We are thus called to translate into concrete acts that which we invoke in prayer and profess in faith. There is no alternative to charity: those who put themselves at the service of others, even when they don’t know it, are those who love God (cf. 1 Jn 3:16-18; Jas 2:14-18). The Christian life, however, is not merely extending a hand in times of need. If it is just this, it can be, certainly, a lovely expression of human solidarity which offers immediate benefits, but it is sterile because it lacks roots. The task which the Lord gives us, on the contrary, is the vocation to charity in which each of Christ’s disciples puts his or her entire life at his service, so to grow each day in love.
We heard in the Gospel, “Large crowds were travelling with Jesus” (Lk14:25). Today, this “large crowd” is seen in the great number of volunteers who have come together for the Jubilee of Mercy. You are that crowd who follows the Master and who makes visible his concrete love for each person. I repeat to you the words of the Apostle Paul: “I have indeed received much joy and comfort from your love, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you” (Philem 1:7). How many hearts have been comforted by volunteers! How many hands they have held; how many tears they have wiped away; how much love has been poured out in hidden, humble and selfless service! This praiseworthy service gives voice to the faith – it gives voice to the faith! – and expresses the mercy of the Father, who draws near to those in need.
Following Jesus is a serious task, and, at the same time, one filled with joy; it takes a certain daring and courage to recognize the divine Master in the poorest of the poor and those who are cast aside, and to give oneself in their service. In order to do so, volunteers, who out of love of Jesus serve the poor and the needy, do not expect any thanks or recompense; rather they renounce all this because they have discovered true love. And each one of us can say: “Just as the Lord has come to meet me and has stooped down to my level in my hour of need, so too do I go to meet him, bending low before those who have lost faith or who live as though God did not exist, before young people without values or ideals, before families in crisis, before the ill and the imprisoned, before refugees and immigrants, before the weak and defenseless in body and spirit, before abandoned children, before the elderly who are on their own. Wherever someone is reaching out, asking for a helping hand in order to get up, this is where our presence – and the presence of the Church which sustains and offers hope – must be”. And I do this, keeping alive the memory of those times when the Lord’s hand reached out to me when I was in need.
Mother Teresa, in all aspects of her life, was a generous dispenser of divine mercy, making herself available for everyone through her welcome and defense of human life, those unborn and those abandoned and discarded. She was committed to defending life, ceaselessly proclaiming that “the unborn are the weakest, the smallest, the most vulnerable”. She bowed down before those who were spent, left to die on the side of the road, seeing in them their God-given dignity; she made her voice heard before the powers of this world, so that they might recognize their guilt for the crime – the crimes! – of poverty they created. For Mother Teresa, mercy was the “salt” which gave flavour to her work, it was the “light” which shone in the darkness of the many who no longer had tears to shed for their poverty and suffering.
Her mission to the urban and existential peripheries remains for us today an eloquent witness to God’s closeness to the poorest of the poor. Today, I pass on this emblematic figure of womanhood and of consecrated life to the whole world of volunteers: may she be your model of holiness! I think, perhaps, we may have some difficult in calling her “Saint Teresa”: her holiness is so near to us, so tender and so fruitful that we continual to spontaneously call her “Mother Teresa”. May this tireless worker of mercy help us increasingly to understand that our only criterion for action is gratuitous love, free from every ideology and all obligations, offered freely to everyone without distinction of language, culture, race or religion. Mother Teresa loved to say, “Perhaps I don’t speak their language, but I can smile”. Let us carry her smile in our hearts and give it to those whom we meet along our journey, especially those who suffer. In this way, we will open up opportunities of joy and hope for our many brothers and sisters who are discouraged and who stand in need of understanding and tenderness.
Today, dear Brothers and Sisters, I wish to welcome you because I have seen so many families among you. Good morning to all the families! We continue to reflect on the family. Today we pause to reflect on an essential characteristic of the family, namely, its natural vocation to educate the children so that they grow in responsibility for themselves and for others. What we heard from the Apostle Paul at the beginning is so beautiful: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not exasperate your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:20-21). This is a wise rule: the child is educated to listen to his parents and to obey his parents who must not command in a bad way, lest they discourage the children. The children, in fact, must grow without being discouraged, step by step. If you parents say to the children: “Let’s go up that flight of steps” and you take them by the hand and step by step you make them go up, things will go well. But if you say: ”Go up! – ‘But I can’t” – “Go!” this is called exasperating the children, asking the children to do what they are not capable of doing. Therefore, the relation between parents and children must be one of wisdom, of very great balance. Children, obey your parents, this pleases God. And you, parents, do not exasperate your children, asking them to do things they cannot do. And this must be done so that the children grow in responsibility for themselves and for others.
It would seem to be an obvious observation, yet even in our times, difficulties are not lacking. It is difficult for parents to educate their children when they see them only in the evening, when they return home tired from work – those who have the good fortune of having work! It is even more difficult for separated parents, who are weighed down by their condition: poor souls, they have had difficulties, they have separated and so often the child is taken as hostage and the father speaks badly to him of his mother and the mother speaks badly to him of the father, and so much harm is done. But I say to separated parents: never, never, never take the child as hostage! You have separated because of many difficulties and motives, life has given you this trial, but the children must not bear the weight of this separation, they must not be used as hostages against the other spouse. They must grow hearing the mother speak well of the father, even though they are not together, and the father speaking well of the mother. For separated parents this is very important and very difficult, but they can do it.
However, above all, is the question: how to educate? What tradition do we have today to transmit to our children?
“Critical” intellectuals of all kinds have silenced parents in a thousand ways, to defend the young generations from harm -- real or imagined -- of family education. Among other things, the family has been accused of authoritarianism, favoritism, conformism, and of emotional repression that generates conflicts.
In fact, a rupture has been opened between the family and society, between the family and school; today the educational pact has been broken. And thus, the educational alliance of society with the family has entered into crisis because reciprocal trust has been undermined. The symptoms are many. For instance, relations between parents and teachers in the school have been damaged. At times there are tensions and mutual mistrust and the consequences naturally fall on the children. On the other hand, the so-called “experts” have multiplied, who have taken the role of parents even in the most intimate aspects of education. On emotional life, on
personality and on development, on rights and duties the “experts” know everything: objectives, motivations, techniques. And parents must only listen, learn and adapt themselves. Deprived of their role, they often become excessively apprehensive and possessive in dealing with their children, to the point of not correcting them ever: “You can’t correct your child.” They tend increasingly to entrust them to the “experts,” even for the most delicate and personal aspects of their life, putting themselves in the corner, and thus parents today run the risk of excluding themselves from the life of their children. And this is very grave!
Today there are cases of this type. I don’t say it happens always, but there are cases. The schoolteacher reprimands the child and writes a note to the parents. I remember a personal anecdote. Once when I was in the fourth year of elementary school I said a bad word to the teacher and the teacher, a good woman, had my mother called. She came the next day, they spoke together and then I was called. And, in front of the teacher, my mother explained to me that what I had done was a bad thing, which I must not do, but my mother did so with such gentleness and she asked me in front of her to ask the teacher for forgiveness. I did so and then I was happy because I said: the story ended well. However, that was the first chapter! When I returned home, the second chapter began ... Imagine if today the teacher does something of the sort, the next day the two parents or one of the two reprimands her, because the “experts” say that children must not be reprimanded like that. Things have changed! For this reason parents must not exclude themselves from the education of their children.
Evidently this approach is not good: it isn’t harmonious, it isn’t dialogic, and instead of fostering collaboration between the family and the other educational agencies, the school, it opposes them. How have we arrived at this point? There is no doubt that parents, or better, certain educational models of the past had some limitations, there’s no doubt. However, it is also true that there are mistakes that only parents are allowed to make, because they can compensate for them in a way that is impossible for anyone else. On the other hand, we know it well, life has become stingy of time to talk, to reflect, to deal with one another.
Many parents are “kidnapped” by work – father and mother must work – and by other preoccupations, hampered by the new needs of the children and the complexity of present-day life – which is like this, we must accept it as it is – and they feel paralyzed out of feart of making a mistake. However, the problem is not only to speak. In fact, a superficial “dialogism” does not lead to a true encounter of the mind and of the heart. Rather, we should ask ourselves: do we try to understand “where” the children really are in their journey? Do we know where their heart really is? And, above all: do we want to know it? Are we convinced that, in reality, they don’t expect something else?
The Christian communities are called to offer support to the educational mission of families, and they do so first of all with the light of the Word of God. The Apostle Paul reminds us of the reciprocity of duties between parents and children: “Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged” (Colossians 3:20-21). At the base of everything is love, what God gives us, “it is not arrogant or rude, does not insist on its own way, is not irritable or resentful, ... bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things” (1 Corinthians 13:5-6). Even in the best families it is necessary to endure one another, and so much patience is needed to endure one another! But life is like this. Life is not made in a laboratory, it is made in reality. Jesus himself went through family education. In this case also, the grace of the life of Christ leads to fulfillment what is inscribed in human nature. How many wonderful examples we have of Christian parents full of human wisdom! They show that a good
family education is the spinal cord of humanism. Their social radiation is the resource that makes it possible to compensate for the lacunae, the wounds, the voids of paternity and maternity that touch less fortunate children. This radiation can do genuine miracles. And these miracles happen every day in the Church.
I hope that the Lord will give Christian families the faith, the freedom and the courage necessary for their mission. If family education rediscovers the pride of its leadership, many things will change for the better, for hesitant parents and for disappointed children. It is time that fathers and mothers return from their exile – because they have exiled themselves from the education of their children --, and reassume fully their educational role. We hope that the Lord will give parents this grace: not to exile themselves from the education of their children. And only love, tenderness and patience can do this.
Today’s catechesis is like an entrance door to a series of reflections on the life of the family, its real life, with its times and its circumstances. Written above this entrance door are three words, which I have already used several times. And these words are: may I, thank you, pardon. In fact, these words open the way to live well in the family. They are simple words, but not so simple to put into practice. They enclose a great strength: the strength to take care of the home, including through thousands of difficulties and trials. However, its absence opens cracks that can even make it collapse.
We generally understand them as words of “good manners.” That’s fine. A polite person asks for permission, gives thanks and asks for pardon if he makes a mistake, because politeness is very important. A great Bishop, Saint Francis of Sales, used to say that “politeness is already half of holiness.” However, beware, in history we have also known a formalism of good manners that can become a mask that hides aridity of soul and indifference to the other. There is a saying: “behind many good manners bad customs hide.” Not even religion is immune to this risk, which sees a formal fulfilment slide into spiritual worldliness.
The devil that tempts Jesus shows good manners – he is a real lord, a gentleman – and quotes the Sacred Scriptures; he seems to be a theologian. His style seems correct, but his intention is to divert from the truth of the love of God. We, however, understand politeness in its authentic term, where the style of good relations is firmly rooted in love of the good and respect of the other. The family lives from this fineness of loving well.
The first word is "may I". When we are concerned to ask politely for what we think we deserve, we put a real defense in the spirit of marital and family coexistence. To enter into the life of the other, also when he forms part of our life, calls for the delicacy of a non-invasive attitude, which renews trust and respect. Trust does not authorize to take everything for granted. And, the more intimate and profound love is, the more it calls for respect of the freedom of the other and the capacity to wait for him to open the door of his heart. In this connection, we recall Jesus’ word in the Book of Revelation: ”See that I stand at the door and knock. If someone hears my voice and opens the door to me, I will go with him, eat with him and he with me. The Lord also asks for permission to enter! Let us not forget this. Before doing something in the family, permission, may I do so? Do you like me to do it this way? It is truly polite language, but full of love. And this does much good to families.
The second word is thank you. Often we can think that we are becoming a civilization of bad manners and bad words, as if it were a sign of emancipation. We hear them said also publicly. Politeness and the capacity to give thanks are seen as a sign of weakness, and sometimes they even arouse mistrust.
This tendency is contrasted in the very heart of the family. We must be intransigent when it comes to education in gratitude, in recognition: both the dignity of persons and social justice pass through here. If family life neglects this style, social life will also lose it. For a believer, moreover, gratitude is at the very heart of the faith: a Christian who does not give thanks is one who has forgotten God’s language. Listen well, I say! A Christian who does not give thanks is one who has forgotten God’s language. Hey, this is ugly!
Let us recall Jesus’ question when he healed the ten lepers and only one returned to thank him. I once heard an elderly person say, very wise, very good and simple, but with that wisdom of piety, of life ... “Gratitude is a plant that grows only in the earth of noble souls,” – that nobility of soul, that grace of God in the soul that drives one to say: Thank you for gratitude. It is the flower of a noble soul. This is something lovely.
And the third word is “pardon,” -- a difficult word, yes, but also necessary. When it is lacking small cracks are enlarged – even without wishing it – until they become wide gaps.
Not for nothing, in the “Our Father,” the prayer taught by Jesus that summarizes all the essential questions of our life, we find this expression: “Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” We must admit we have done wrong, and be anxious to restore what we have taken – respect, sincerity, love – makes us worthy of forgiveness. And thus the infection stops. If we do not have the capacity to be sorry, it means that we are also incapable of forgiving. In a home where pardon is not requested, air begins to lack, the waters become stagnant. Many emotional wounds, many lacerations in families begin with the lost of this precious word: pardon. In marital life there are often quarrels, “plates” also “fly,” but I give this advice: do not end the day without making peace. Listen well. Husband and wife, have you quarrelled? -- Children with parents? Did you quarrel intensely? It’s not right, but it isn’t the problem: the problem is that this sentiment must not be there the next day.
Therefore, if you have quarrelled, the day must never end without making peace in the family. And how do I make peace? Do I kneel down? No! -- just a small gesture, a little thing. And, hey, family harmony returns! A caress suffices, without words, but never end the day without making peace in the family. Understood? Hey, it’s not easy! But it must be done. And with this life will be more beautiful.
These three key-words of the family are simple words, and perhaps initially they make us smile. However, when we forget them, there’s nothing to laugh about, no? Perhaps our education neglects them too much. May the Lord help us to put them back in the exact place, in our heart, in our home, and also in our civil co-existence. And now I invite all to repeat these three words together: “permission, thank you, pardon” ... all together! “Permission, thank you, pardon.” They are three words to enter really in the love of the family, so that the family will be well. Now repeat all together the advice I have given: never end the day without making peace. Everyone. “Never end
the day without making peace.” Thank you.
Continuing these catecheses on the family, today I would like to speak about the [time of] engagement. Engagement -- we hear it in the word – it has to do with trust, confidence, reliability -- confidence in the vocation that God gives, because marriage is first of all the discovery of a call from God. It is certainly a good thing that today young people can choose to marry on the basis of mutual love. However, the freedom of the bond in fact requires a harmonious awareness of the decision, not only a simple understanding of the attraction or of the sentiment, of a moment, of a brief time ... it requires a course.
In other terms, the engagement is the time in which the two are called to work hard on love, a participated and shared work that goes in depth. As they discover one another, that is, man “gets to know” woman by getting to know this woman, his fiancée; and the woman “gets to know” man by getting to know this man, her fiancé. We must not underestimate the importance of this knowledge: it is a fine obligation, and love itself requires it, because it is not only a light-hearted happiness, an enchanted emotion ... The biblical account speaks of the entire creation as the fine work of the love of God; the Book of Genesis says that “God saw everything that he had
made, and behold, it was very good” (Genesis1:31). Only at the end did God “rest.” From this image we understand that the love of God, which gave origin to the world, was not an extemporaneous decision. No! It was fine work. The love of God created the conditions of an irrevocable, solid alliance destined to last.
The covenant of love between man and woman, a covenant for life, is not improvised; it is not made from one day to another. There is no express marriage: one must work on love, one must journey. The alliance of love of man and woman is learned and refined. I allow myself to say that it is a crafted alliance. To make two lives only one life, is also almost a miracle, a miracle of freedom and of the heart, entrusted to faith. Perhaps we must make more of an effort on this point, because our “sentimental coordinates” have become somewhat confused. One who pretends to want everything immediately, then yields also on everything – and right away -- at the first difficulty -- (or on the first occasion). There is no hope for the trust and the fidelity of the gift of self, if the habit prevails to consume love as a sort of “integrator” of psychic-physical wellbeing. This is not love! The engagement puts in focus the will to protect together something that must never be purchased or sold, betrayed or abandoned, no matter how tempting the offer might be. However God also, when he speaks of the alliance with his people, does so at times in terms of engagement.
In the Book of Jeremiah, speaking of the people that had distanced themselves from him, he reminds them when they were the “bride” of God and says thus: “I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride” (2:2). And God undertook this journey of engagement; then he also made a promise: we heard it at the beginning of the audience, in the Book of Hosea: “I will make you my bride for ever, I will make you my bride in justice and in law, in love and in benevolence. I will make you my bride in fidelity and you will know the Lord” (2:21-22). Long is the way that the Lord travels with his people in this course of engagement. In the end God marries his people in Jesus Christ: he marries the Church in Jesus. The People of God is the bride of Jesus. But what a long way! And you, Italians, in your literature have a masterpiece on engagement [I Promessi Sposi]. It is necessary that young people should know it, that they should read it. It is a masterpiece, which tells the story of an engaged couple that suffered so much pain; they travelled a path full of difficulties until they arrived in the end at marriage. Do not leave aside this masterpiece on engagement that Italian literature has in fact offered you. Go ahead, read it and you will see the beauty, the suffering, but also the fidelity of the engaged couple.
In her wisdom, the Church keeps the distinction between being engaged and being married – it is not the same – precisely in view of the delicacy and depth of this verification. Let’s be careful not to scorn light-heartedly this wise teaching, which is nourished also by the experience of conjugal love happily lived. The strong symbols of the body hold the keys of the soul: we cannot treat the bonds of the flesh with heedlessness, without opening some lasting wound in the spirit (1 Corinthians 6:15-20).
Certainly today’s culture and society have become rather indifferent to the delicacy and the seriousness of this passage. And on the other hand, it cannot be said that they are generous with young people that are seriously intending to start a home and bring children into the world! Rather, they often put a thousand obstacles, mental and practical. The engagement is a course of life that must mature as fruit, it is a path of maturation in love, until the moment it becomes marriage.
The pre-marital courses are a special expression of the preparation. And we see so many couples, that perhaps arrive at the course somewhat against their will, “But these priests makes us do a course! But why? We know!” – and they attend against their will. But afterwards they are happy and thank us, because in fact they found there the occasion – often the only one! – to reflect on their experience in terms that aren’t trivial. Yes, many couples are together for a long time, perhaps also in intimacy, sometimes living together, but they don’t really know one another. It seems strange, but experience shows that it is so. Because of this, the engagement is re-evaluated as a time of getting to know one another and of a sharing a plan. The course of preparation for marriage is marked in this perspective, also making use of the simple but intense testimony of Christian spouses.
And pointing here also on the essential: the Bible, to be rediscovered together, in a conscious way; prayer, in its liturgical dimension, but also in “domestic prayer,” to be lived in the family, the Sacraments, the sacramental life, Confession, ... in which the Lord comes to dwell with the engaged couple and prepares them to truly receive one another “with the grace of Christ”; and fraternity with the poor, with the needy, who stir us to sobriety and sharing. Engaged couples that work on this grow and all this leads to preparing a lovely celebration of Marriage in a different way, not in a worldly but in a Christian way! We think of these words of God that we heard when he spoke to his people as the fiancé to his fiancée: “I will make you my bride for ever, I will make you my bride in justice and in law, in love and in benevolence. I will make you my bride in fidelity and you will know the Lord” (Hosea 2:21-22). May every engaged couple think of this and say to one another: “I will make you my bride, I will make you my husband.” To wait for that moment; it is a moment, it is a course that goes slowly ahead, but it is a course of maturation. The stages of the course must not be burnt. Maturation is done like this, step by step.
The time of engagement can truly become a time of initiation, to what? To surprise! -- to the surprise of spiritual gifts with which the Lord, through the Church, enriches the horizon of the new family that prepares to live in his blessing. Now I invite you to pray to the Holy Family of Nazareth: Jesus, Joseph and Mary. Pray that the family will undertake this course of preparation; pray for engaged couples. Let us pray all together to Our Lady a Hail Mary for all engaged couples, that they may understand the beauty of this course to Marriage. [Hail Mary ...] And to the engaged couples that are in the Square: “Have a good course of engagement!”
In our series of catecheses on the family, today we touch directly on the beauty of Christian marriage. It is not simply a ceremony carried out in church, with flowers, the dress, photos. Christian marriage is a Sacrament
that takes place in the Church and that the Church also does, starting a new family community.
It is what the Apostle Paul summarizes in his well-known expression: “This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:32). Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Paul affirms that the love
between spouses is an image of the love between Christ and the Church – an unthinkable dignity! However, in reality it is inscribed in the creative design of God, and with the grace of Christ innumerable Christian couples,
although with their limitations and their sins, have realized it!
Speaking of the new life in Christ, Saint Paul says that all Christians are called to love one another as Christ has loved them, namely “subject to one another” (Ephesians 5:21), which means at the service of one another. And
here he introduces the analogy between the husband-wife couple and that of Christ-Church. It is clearly an imperfect analogy, but we must gather the spiritual sense which is very lofty and revolutionary, and at the same time simple, within the reach of every man and woman that entrusts himself/herself to the grace of God.
The husband – Paul says –must love his wife “as his own body” (Ephesians 5:28); he must love her as Christ “loved the Church and gave himself up for her” (v. 25). But do you husbands who are present here understand this? To
love your wife as Christ loves the Church? These are not jokes but serious things! The effect of this radicalism of the dedication asked of man, for the love and dignity of the woman, on the example of Christ, must have been
great in the Christian community itself.
This seed of the evangelical novelty, which re-establishes the original reciprocity of dedication and of respect, matured slowly in history but in the end prevailed.
The Sacrament of Marriage is a great act of faith and love: it witnesses the courage to believe in the beauty of God’s creative act and to live that love that pushes one to always go beyond, beyond oneself and also beyond
the family itself. The Christian vocation to love without reservation and without measure is what, with Christ’s grace, is also at the base of the free consensus that constitutes marriage.
The Church herself is fully involved in the history of every Christian marriage: she is built on its successes and suffers in its failures. However, we must ask ourselves seriously: do we ourselves, as believers and
as pastors, fully accept this indissoluble bond of the history of Christ and of the Church with the history of marriage and of the human family? Are we prepared to assume this responsibility seriously, namely, that every
marriage goes on the way of love that Christ has with the Church? This is great!
In this depth of the creaturely mystery, recognized and re-established in its purity, a second great horizon opens that characterizes the Sacrament of Marriage. The decision to “be married in the Lord” also contains a
missionary dimension, which means to have in the heart the willingness to be so through the blessing of God and the grace of the Lord for all. In fact, Christian spouses participate in as much as spouses in the mission of
the Church. Courage is needed for this! That is why when I greet newlyweds I say: “See these courageous ones!” – because courage is needed to love one another as Christ loves the Church.
The celebration of the Sacrament cannot leave out this co-responsibility of family life in regard to the great mission of love of the Church. Thus the life of the Church is enriched every time by the beauty of this spousal
alliance, as it is impoverished every time that it is disfigured. To offer to all the gifts of faith, of love and of hope, the Church is also in need of the courageous fidelity of spouses to the grace of their Sacrament! The People of God is in need of their daily journey in faith, in love and in hope, with all the joys and efforts that this journey entails in a marriage and in a family.
The route is thus marked forever, it is the route of love: one loves the way God loves, forever. Christ does not cease to take care of the Church: he always loves her, he always guards her, as himself. Christ does not cease to take away from the human face stains and wrinkles of all sorts. Moving and beautiful is this radiation of the strength and tenderness of God that is transmitted from couple to couple, from family to family. Saint Paul was right: this is in fact a “great mystery”! Men and women who are sufficiently courageous to carry this treasure in the “clay pots” of our
humanity – these very courageous men and women are an essential resource for the Church, also for the whole world! May God bless them a thousand times for this!
ROME, April 29, 2015 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during his Wednesday General Audience in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
After having considered the two accounts of the book of Genesis, our reflection on God’s original design on the man-woman couple is now addressed directly to Jesus
At the beginning of his Gospel, the Evangelist John recounts the episode of the Wedding at Cana, in which the Virgin Mary and Jesus, with his first disciples, were present (Cf. John 2:1-11). Not only did Jesus participate in that marriage, but he “saved the celebration” with his miracle of the wine!
Therefore, the first of his prodigious signs, with which he revealed his glory, he carried out in the context of a marriage, and it was a lovely gesture for that nascent family, solicited by Mary’s maternal concern. This makes us recall the Book of Genesis, when God finishes the work of creation and makes his masterpiece; the masterpiece is man and woman. And here, in fact, with this masterpiece is where Jesus begins his miracles, in a marriage, in a wedding feast: a man and a woman. Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: man and woman who love one another! This is the masterpiece!
Since the time of the Wedding at Cana, so many things have changed, but that “sign” of Jesus contains a message that is always valid.
Today it does not seem easy to speak of marriage as a celebration that is renewed in time, in the different stages of the whole life of the spouses. It is a fact that persons who marry are always fewer; this is a fact: young people do not want to get married. Instead, in many countries the number of separations increases, while the number of children decreases. The difficulty to remain together – be it as a couple, be it as a family – leads to breaking the bonds with ever greater frequency and rapidity, and, in fact, it is the children that are the first to bear the consequences. But let us think that the first victims, the most important victims, the victims that suffer most in a separation are the children. If you experience from the time you are little that marriage is a bond for “a determined time,” it will be so for you unconsciously. In fact, many young people are led to renounce the project itself of an irrevocable bond and of a lasting family. I think we have to reflect very seriously on why so many young people “don’t feel like” getting married. There is this culture of the provisional ... everything is provisional, it seems there is nothing definitive.
This fact of young people not wanting to marry is one of the concerns that emerges today: why don’t young people marry? Why do they often prefer to live together and, so often, with “limited responsibility”? Why do many – also among the baptized – have little trust in marriage and the family? It is important to try to understand, if we want young people to be able to find the right way to follow. Why don’t they have confidence in the family?
The difficulties are not only of an economic character, although these are truly serious. Many hold that the change that has happened in these last decades has to do with the emancipation of woman.
However, this argument is not valid either; it is a falsehood, it’s not true! It is a form of machismo that always wants to dominate woman. We make the bad figure that Adam made when God said to him: “Why have you eaten the fruit of the tree?” and he <answered>: “The woman gave it to me.” And the fault is the woman’s. Poor woman! We must defend women! In reality, almost all men and women would like affective stability, a solid marriage and a happy family. The family is at the top of all the indexes of satisfaction among young people; however, out of fear of making a mistake, many do not even want to think about it; although they are Christians, they do not think of sacramental marriage, unique and unrepeatable sign of the alliance, which becomes a testimony of faith. In fact, perhaps this fear of failing is the greatest obstacle to receiving the word of Christ, who promises his grace to the conjugal union and to the family. The most persuasive testimony of the blessing of Christian marriage is the good life of Christian spouses and of the family. There is no better way to describe the beauty of the Sacrament! Marriage consecrated by God to safeguard that bond between man and woman that God has blessed since the creation of the world; and it is source of peace and of goodness for the whole of conjugal and family life. For instance, in the early times of Christianity, this great dignity of the bond between man and woman overcame an abuse held then to be altogether normal, that is, the right of husbands to repudiate their wives, even with the most pretentious and humiliating motives. The Gospel of the family, the Gospel that in fact announces this Sacrament has overcome this culture of habitual repudiation.
The Christian seed of the radical equality between spouses must bear new fruits today. The testimony of the social dignity of marriage will become persuasive in fact this way, the way of witness that attracts, the way of reciprocity between them, of the complementarity between them.
Therefore, as Christians, we must become more exacting in this regard. For instance: to support with determination the right of equal compensation for equal work, why is it taken for granted that women must earn less than men?
No! They have the same rights. The disparity is a pure scandal! At the same time, to recognize the maternity of women and the paternity of men as an always valid richness, for the benefit especially of children. Likewise,
the virtue of hospitality of Christian families is of crucial importance today, especially in situations of poverty, degradation and family violence.
Dear brothers and sisters, we are not afraid to invite Jesus to the marriage feast, to invite him to our home, so that he is with us and watches over the family. And we are not afraid to invite his Mother Mary also! When Christians marry “in the Lord,” they are transformed into an effective sign of the love of God. Christian do not marry only for
themselves: they marry in the Lord in favor of the whole community, of the entire society.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters: As we continue our catechesis on the family, we look to the marriage feast at Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, changing water into wine, at the prompting of Mary his Mother. In this way, he showed his loving concern for the couple and gave a “sign” which has much to tell us about the meaning and importance of marriage itself. Today, society is confronted with fewer marriages. In many countries, separation of couples is increasing, while the number of children is decreasing. These broken marriage bonds affect the young most of all, as they come to view marriage as something temporary. Perhaps there is a fear of failure which prevents men and women from trusting in Christ’s promise of grace in marriage and in the family.
And yet, in truth we know that almost every man and woman desires a secure and lasting relationship, a stable marriage and a happy family. The most effective witness to the blessing of marriage is the good life of Christian
spouses and their families. The consecration of their love by God is the font of their peace and fidelity. To make these blessings more evident to the world, the equality enjoyed by the spouses must produce new fruit equal
opportunities in the workplace; a new valuing of motherhood and fatherhood; and a greater appreciation for the openness of families to those most in need. Let us not be afraid to invite Jesus and Mary to the marriage feast,
for Christian spouses marry not only for themselves but for the good of the community and for all of society.
VATICAN CITY, April 22, 2015 (Zenit.org) - Here is a translation of the address Pope Francis gave at this morning’s general audience in St. Peter’s Square.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning.
In the previous catechesis on the family, I reflected on the first passage of the creation of the human being, in the first chapter of Genesis, where it is written: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Today I would like to complete the reflection with the second passage, which we find in the second chapter. Here we read that the Lord, after having created heaven and earth, “formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” He is the pinnacle of creation. Then God put man in a most beautiful garden so that he would till and keep it.
The Holy Spirit, who has inspired the whole Bible, suggests for a moment the image of man alone, and that he is lacking something without woman. And he suggests God’s thought, almost God’s sentiment, who looks at him, who
sees Adam alone in the garden: he is free, he is lord ... but he is alone. And God sees that this “is not good,” it is as though communion is lacking, plenitude is lacking. “It is not good” – God says – and adds: “I will make him a helper fit for him.”
Then God presents all the animals to man; man gives each one of them its name – and this is another image of man’s lordship over creation -- however, he does not find in any animal one that is like him. Thus, man continues alone.
When, finally, God presents woman to him, exulting man recognizes that creature, and only that one, which is part of him: “bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh.” Finally, there is a reflection of himself, a reciprocity.
And when a person – it is an example to understand this well – wants to shake hands with another, he must have another before him: if one puts out one’s hand and has nothing, the hand is there, but reciprocity is lacking. So was man, he was lacking something to reach his plenitude, he was lacking reciprocity.
Woman is not a “replica” of man; she comes directly from the creative gesture of God. The image of the “rib” does not express inferiority or subordination but, on the contrary, that man and woman are of the same substance and are complementary. And the fact that – still in the parable – God molded woman while man slept, stresses in fact that she is in no way creature of man, but of God. And it also suggests something else: To find woman, and we can say to find love in woman, to find woman, man must first dream about her and then he finds her.
God’s trust in man and woman, to whom he entrusts the earth, is generous, direct and full. However, it is here where the Evil One introduces in his mind suspicion, incredulity, mistrust and finally disobedience to the
commandment that protected them. They fall into that delirium of omnipotence that contaminates everything and destroys harmony. We also feel it within ourselves, so many times, all of us.
Sin generates mistrust and division between man and woman. Their relationship is threatened by thousands of ways of prevarication and submission, of deceitful seduction and humiliating arrogance, even the most dramatic and violent. History bears the imprints. Let us think, for instance, of the negative excesses of patriarchal cultures. Let us think of the many forms of machismo, where woman is considered to be second class. Let us think of the instrumentalization and merchandising of the feminine body in the present media culture. However, let us also think of the recent epidemic of mistrust, skepticism and even hostility that is spreading in our culture – in particular beginning with a comprehensible mistrust of women – in relation to an alliance between man and woman that is capable at the same time of refining the intimacy of communion and of guarding the dignity of the difference.
If we do not find a wave of sympathy for this alliance, capable of establishing the new generations to repair the mistrust and the indifference, children will come into the world ever more uprooted from the maternal womb. The social devaluation of the stable and generative alliance of man and woman is certainly a loss for all. We must reassess marriage and the family! And the Bible says a beautiful thing: man finds woman, they find one another, and man must leave something to find her fully. And for this, man will leave his father and his mother to go with her. It is
beautiful! This means to begin a journey. Man is all for woman and woman is all for man.
The care of this alliance of man and woman -- also if they are sinners and are wounded, confused or humiliated, mistrustful and uncertain -- is therefore for us believers a demanding and exciting vocation, in the present condition. The same passage of creation and of sin, at the end, gives us a most beautiful icon: “And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them.” It is an image of tenderness to that sinful couple that leaves us with our mouth open: the tenderness of God for man and for woman. It is an image of paternal custody of the human couple. God himself takes care of and protects his masterpiece.
Dear Brothers and Sisters: Continuing our catechesis on the family, we recall God’s creation of man from the ground. He is placed in the garden, where he is to care for creation. Yet God sees that man is alone, and so he
creates woman, someone complementary with whom man can share his life. Man and woman are created to live a life of reciprocity, to enter into a covenant together. Yet sin introduces discord into their relationship, lack of trust and suspicion. We see throughout history the fruit of this sin, especially towards women – oppression, violence and exploitation. Most recently, this mistrust and scepticism has led our culture to disregard the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, that covenant which deepens communion and safeguards the dignity of their uniqueness. When the stable and fruitful covenant between a man and a woman is devalued by society, it is a loss for everyone, especially the young. For all our sins and weaknesses, our vocation is to care for the covenant of marriage. It is a vital and energizing vocation, through which we cooperate with our heavenly Father, who himself always cares for and protects this great gift.
"A society of children who do not honor their parents is a society without honor" VATICAN CITY, February 11, 2015 (Zenit.org) - Here is the translation of the Holy Father's address during his weekly General Audience in St. Peter's Square.
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Dear Brothers and Sisters,
After having reflected on the figure of the mother and the father, in this catechesis on the family I would like to talk about the child or, better, the children. I take my cue from a beautiful image of Isaiah. The Prophet writes: “your sons shall come from far, and your daughters shall be carried in the arms. Then you shall see and be radiant, your heart shall thrill and rejoice” (60:4-5a). It is a splendid image of the happiness that is realized in the reunion of parents and children, who walk together towards a future of freedom and peace, after a long time of privations and separation, when the Hebrews found themselves far from their homeland.
In fact, there is a close connection between the hope of a people and the harmony between generations. We should think of this well. There is a close connection between the hope of a people and the harmony between generations.The joy of children makes the hearts of their parents palpitate and re-opens the future. Children are the joy of the family and of society. They are not a problem of reproductive biology, or one of the many ways of fulfilling themselves, and much less so, are they a possession of their parents. No. Children are a gift: do you understand? Children are a gift. Each one is unique and unrepeatable and, at the same time, unmistakeably connected to his roots. In fact, according to God’s plan, to be a son and a daughter means to bear in oneself the memory and the hope of a love that has realized itself precisely by kindling the life of another original and new human being. And for parents, each child are unique, different, and diverse.
Allow me to recall a family memory. I remember my mother would tell us – we were five [children]-: "I have five children." When they asked her: "Which one is your favourite, she would answer: "I have five children, like five fingers. [He shows his fingers to the crowd] If you hit this one, it hurts me; if you hit this other one, it hurts me. All five will hurt me. They are all my children, but they are all different like the finger on a hand." And that is how the family is! Children are different, but they are all children.
A child is loved because he is a child: not because he is beautiful, or because he is like this or like that; no, it is because he is your child! Not because they think like me or fulfil my wishes.A child is a child: a life generated by us but destined to him, to his good, to the good of the family, of society and of the whole of humanity.
From here stems also the depth of the human experience of being a son and daughter, which enables us to discover the most gratuitous dimension of love, which endlessly amazes us. It is the beauty of being loved first: children are loved before they arrive. How many times I meet mothers in the square who show their bellies and ask me for a blessing…these children are loved before coming into the world. And this is free, this is love; they are loved before birth, like the love of God who always loves us first. They are loved before doing anything to merit it, before being able to talk or think, in fact, before coming into the world! To be children is the fundamental condition to know the love of God, who is the ultimate source of this authentic miracle. In the soul of every child, in as much as vulnerable, God puts the seal of this love, which is the basis of his personal dignity, a dignity that nothing and no one can destroy.
Today it seems more difficult for children to imagine their future. Parents – I referred to it in preceding catecheses – have perhaps taken a step backwards and children have become more uncertain about taking their steps forward. We can learn the good relation between generations from our Heavenly Father, who leaves each one of us free but never leaves us alone. And if we make a mistake, He continues to follow us with patience without diminishing His love for us.
Our Heavenly Father does not take steps backwards in his love for us, never! He always goes in front of us and if we can't go forward, He waits for us, but he doesn't go back. He wants His children to be courageous and to take their steps forward.
For their part, the children must not be afraid of the commitment to build a new world: it is right for them to desire that it be better than the one they have received! However, this must be done without arrogance, without presumption. One must be able to recognize the value of children, and parents must always be rendered honor.
The fourth Commandment asks children – and we are all children! – to honor their father and their mother (Cf. Exodus 20:12). This Commandment comes immediately after those that concern God Himself. In fact, it contains something sacred, something that is at the root of all other kinds of respect between men. And, added in the biblical formulation of the fourth Commandment is: “that your days may be long in the land which the Lord your God gives you.” The virtuous connection between the generations is guarantee of the future, and it is the guarantee of a truly human history. A society of children who do not honor their parents is a society without honor; when parents are not honoured, one loves their own honor! It is a society destined to fill itself with arid and avid young people. However, a society that is greedy with its generation, which does not like to surround itself with children, that considers them above all a worry, a weight, a risk, is a depressed society, because they do not want children, they don't have children, the birthrate never reaches one percent. Why? Each one of us must think and respond. If a family that is full of children is regarded as if it were a weight, there is something that’s not right! The generation of children must be responsible, as the Encyclical Humanae vitae of Blessed Pope Paul VIalso teaches, but to have more children cannot become automatically an irresponsible choice. To not have children is a selfish choice. Life rejuvenates and acquires energies by multiplying itself: it is enriched, not impoverished! The children learn to take charge of their family, they mature in the sharing of their sacrifices, they grow in the appreciation of their gifts. The happy experience of fraternity animates the respect and the care of parents, to whom we owe our gratitude.
Many of you here present have children and we are all children. Let us do something, a minute of silence. Each one of us think in their hearts to their children – if you have them -; think in silence. And let us all think about our parents and thank God for the gift of life. In silence, those who have children, think of them, and everyone think about our parents. [Moment of silence] May the Lord bless our parents and bless your children.
May Jesus, the eternal Son, who was made a son in time, help us to find the way of a new radiation of this very simple and very great human experience, which is being children. In the multiplication of generation there is a mystery of enrichment of the life of all, which comes from God Himself. We must rediscover it, challenging the prejudice, and live it, in faith and in perfect joy. And I tell you: how beautiful it is when I pass among you and see the moms and dads who raise up their children to be bless. This is an almost divine gesture. Thank you for doing that!
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1. "I like St. Joseph very much. He is a strong man of silence. On my desk, I have a statue of St. Joseph sleeping. While sleeping, he looks after the Church. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. This means please pray to St. Joseph for this problem." ( Discover the powerful devotion to St. Joseph which is unknown to many )
2. "You must make time each day for prayer. You may say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do! This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the most important thing of all. God’s will for us. Without prayer we will accomplish very little." ( The Sacred Icon is a special grace given to those that are committed in their prayer life )
3. "It is in the family that we first learn how to pray. And don’t forget when the family prays together, it remains together. That is why it is so important to pray as a family! That is why families are so important in God’s plan for the Church."
4. "It is important to dream in the family. When you lose this capacity to dream you lose the capacity to love, the capacity to love is lost. Do we dream of our husband or wife?... When we dream about the good qualities they have… Don’t ever lose the illusion of when you were boyfriend and girlfriend."
5. "Our world needs good and strong families to overcome threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families."
( This is the reason why the Holy Family is prescribed by all the Popes in history as the best model and remedy, for a family to remain faithful to God’s plan )
6. "Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf Familiaries Consortio 85) So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of sacraments."
7. "Be sanctuaries of respect for life. Proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation!"
8. "Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace. (cf Luke 2:52).
9. When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world."
( Begin with a daily prayer to the Holy Family as they will form us in the spiritual and Christian life as we learn to meditate before the presence of their Sacred Icon. If you do not have one then please get one, that you may understand how to receive this gift of contemplation. ) 9. "Do not hide your faith. Do not hide Jesus, but carry Him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!"
10. "Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It is not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer -- it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization. As families we have to be very wise and strong to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family. And ask the intercession of St. Joseph to know when to say “YES: and when to say “NO”."
( The multi-media and the internet are often misused as a form of recreation that leads to addiction instead of a tool for communication )
Pope Francis central message at the Luneta
“But through sin, man has disfigured that natural beauty; through sin, man has also destroyed the unity and beauty of our human family, creating social structures which perpetuate poverty, ignorance and corruption.”
“The Bible tells us that the great threat to God’s plan for us is, and always has been, the lie. The devil is the father of lies. Often he hides his snares behind the appearance of sophistication, the allure of being “modern”, “like everyone else.” He distracts us with the promise of ephemeral pleasures, superficial pastimes. And we forgot to remain focused on the things that really matter. We forgot to remain, at heart, children of God.” In such a context, after listening to Pope Francis himself, and as followers of Christ, we cannot remain idle!
Now is the Time for Action
We must be convinced that what is needed is the powerful message of salvation from all these evils! This is the message that you and I and all men of good will are called to do and this begins in every home.
Therefore, we should not cease to proclaim it throughout the world, as do many Christians who try to put the Gospel into practice. And the great message of salvation is Christ Himself who began His mission in the Holy Family! As Saint Paul says in the scriptures, how can this message spread if there is no one to proclaim it? This is the Holy Family’s mission; this is also your mission! We want to be protagonists in the challenges that we face today. No doubt you already are engaged in this battle with your daily work and sacrifice. I will expound on these issues in the next succeeding write-ups. As of the moment, we need your active participation to help us carry out the mission of the Holy Family! We need to continue and reach out to more people now more than ever that they may receive enlightenment from so many confusions and distractions sent by the “evil One.” If you are convinced, then please let us know in how you can support us. Thanking you in advance for what you might be able to contribute! May you always be on fire for God, as we offer our prayers and good wishes to all of you in the care of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
VATICAN CITY, January 28, 2015 (Zenit.org) - Pope Francis continued his catechesis on the family during his weekly General Audience, reflecting on the important role of fathers. The Holy Father was in good spirits as he entered the Paul VI Audience Hall, even taking a moment to pose for a picture with a group of pilgrims.
The Pope began his address by noting that the word father is important for Christians because "it is the name in which Jesus taught us to call God."
"The meaning of this name has received a new depth just from the way in which Jesus used it to address God and manifest his special relationship with Him," he said. "The blessed mystery of the intimacy of God, Father, Son and Spirit, revealed by Jesus, is the heart of our Christian faith."
Reflecting on the symbolic role of the father, the Holy Father lamented the its decreasing role in today's society. This absence, he explained, is perceived in Western culture as the emancipation from an obstacle to happiness. While there are cases where fathers have been overly authoritative or treat children as servants, the Pope said that the situation can go to the opposite extreme: where the presence of the father is completely absent.
"Even as bishop of Buenos Aires," the Pope recalled, "I warned of this sense of orphan-hood that children live today. And I regularly asked fathers if they played with their children; if they had the courage to have the love to waste time with their children. The answer wasn't good, eh! The majority would say: 'But, I can't because I have so much work to do…' And the father was absent from that child that was growing up and didn't play with him, he didn't waste time with him."
The 78 year old Pontiff called on the Christian community to be more attentive to their children, saying that the absence of the father causes gaps and wounds that, over time, can become very serious.
'Orphaned within the Family'
Continuing his catechesis, Pope Francis continued to explain detrimental effects that a father's absence can have on children. Due to this absence, children at times are like "orphans but within the family." He also warned that because of this, fathers risk having a relationship on the same level of the children instead of a role as "educator".
"At times, it seems that fathers do not know well which place to occupy within the family and how to educate the children," he explained. "So, when in doubt they abstain, they withdraw and neglect their responsibilities, perhaps taking refuge in an unlikely relationship 'on par' with the children."
"It is true that you should be a companion for your child but without forgetting that you are the father. If you act as a companion equal to your child, it will not do him well."
Concluding his address, Pope Francis said that while his catechesis may have seemed to have taken a serious or negative tone regarding the role of fathers, it is for good reason.
"I wanted to emphasize this because next Wednesday, I will continue this catechesis by highlighting the beauty of fatherhood," he said. "For this reason I chose to begin from the darkness to arrive to the light. May the Lord help us to understand well these things."
Father Cantalamessa Says the Family Is Church's Backbone
Considers What Revelation Can Contribute to Marriage Problems Today
ROME, May 08, 2014 (Zenit.org) - Here is the text of an address given last week in Norfolk, Virginia, by the preacher of the Pontifical Household, Capuchin Father Raniero Cantalamessa.
The conference was titled Awakening the Domestic Church and Father Cantalamessa gave three addresses there. This one is called "Family: The Backbone of the Church."
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I divide my address into three parts. In the first part I will focus on God’s initial plan for marriage and the family and how it came about throughout the history of Israel. In the second part I will speak about the renewal brought by Christ and how it was interpreted and lived in the Christian community of the New Testament. In the third part I will try to consider what biblical revelation can contribute to the solution of the challenges that marriage and family life are facing today.
Marriage and Family: the Divine Project
And Human Achievements in the Old Testament
The Divine Project
We know that the Book of Genesis has two different accounts of the creation of the first human couple, which go back to two different traditions: the yahwehist (10th century B.C.) and the more recent (6th century B.C.) called the “priestly” tradition.
In the priestly tradition (Genesis 1:26–28) man and woman are created at the same time, not one from the other. Being man and woman are related to being an image of God: “God created mankind in his image, in his image he created them, man and woman he created them.” The primary purpose of the union between man and woman is found in being fruitful and filling the earth.
In the Yahwehist tradition (Genesis 2:18-25) the woman is taken from the man; the creation of the two sexes is seen as a remedy for solitude: “It is not good that man be alone; I will make him an adequate helper;” The unitive factor is highlighted more than the procreative: “The man will cling to his wife and the two will be one flesh;” Each one is free with regard to their own sexuality and to the other: “Both were naked, the man and his wife, but they were not embarrassed by each other.”
Neither of the two accounts references any subordination of the woman to the man, before sin: The two are on a level of absolute equality, although it is the man who takes the initiative at least in the yahwehist account.
I’ve found the most convincing explanation for this divine "invention" of the difference between the sexes not from a biblical scholar, but from a poet, Paul Claudel:
“Man is a proud being; there was no other way to make him understand his neighbor except introducing him in the flesh. There was no other way to make him understand dependence and need other than through the law of another distinct being (woman) over him, due to the simple fact that she exists.
Opening oneself to the opposite sex is the first step toward opening oneself to others, our neighbors, and to the Other with a capital O, which is God. Marriage is born under the sign of humility; it is the recognition of dependence and therefore of one’s condition of being a creature. Falling in love with a woman or a man is the completion of the most radical act of humility. It is becoming a beggar and telling the other person, “I’m not enough for myself, I need your being.” If, as Schleiermacher said, the essence of religion is the “sense of dependence” (Abhaengigheitsgefuehl) on God, then human sexuality is the first school of religion.
Thus far we have examined God’s plan. Nevertheless, the rest of the Bible’s text cannot be explained without also including the account of the fall in addition to creation, above all what was said to the woman: “I will greatly increase your pains in childbearing; with pain you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16). The rule of the man over the woman is part of man’s sin, not of God’s plan; with those words God predicts it, he does not approve it.
The Bible is a human and a divine book, not just because its authors are both God and man, but also because it describes, weaved throughout the text, both God’s fidelity and man’s infidelity. This is especially evident when we compare God’s plan over marriage and family with the way it was put into practice in the history of the Chosen People.
It is useful to be aware of the human deficiencies and aberrations so that we’re not too surprised by what happens around us today and also because it shows that marriage and family are institutions that, at least in practice, evolve over time, as any other aspect of social and religious life. Following the book of Genesis, the son of Cain, Lemek, violates the law of monogamy taking two wives. Noah, with his family appears as an exception in the middle of general corruption of his time. The very Patriarchs, Abraham and Jacob have children with a number of women. Moses authorizes the practice of divorce; David and Solomon keep a veritable harem of women.
Nevertheless the deviations appear, as always, more present at the higher levels of society, among the leaders, than at the level of the people, where the initial idea of monogamous marriage was likely the norm, not the exception. In order to form an idea of the relationships and family values that are held and lived in Israel we can turn to the wisdom books: Psalms, Proverbs and Sirach. These help us more than the historical books (which deal precisely with the leaders). They highlight marital fidelity, education of offspring and respect for parents. This last value is one of the Ten Commandments: "Honor your father and mother."
The deviation from the initial idea can be seen in the underlying idea of marriage in Israel, even more than in particular individual transgressions. The principal involution is related to two basic points. The first is that marriage changes from being an end to being a means. Overall, the Old Testament considers marriage to be “a patriarchal structure of authority, primarily driven to the perpetuation of the clan. In this sense we must understand the institutions of the levirate (Deuteronomy 25:5-10), concubine (Genesis 16), and provisional polygamy.” The ideal of a communion of life between man and woman, founded on a reciprocal and personal relationship, is not forgotten, but becomes less important than the good of the offspring.
The second great deviation refers to the condition of women: She goes from being a companion of man, gifted with equal dignity, to appearing more and more subordinated to man and serving a function for man.
The prophets played an important role by shedding light on God’s initial plan for marriage, especially Hosea, Isaiah and Jeremiah.
They posited the union of man and woman as a symbol of the covenant between God and his people. As a result of this, they once again shed light on the values of mutual love, fidelity and indissolubility that characterize God’s love for Israel. All the phases and sufferings of spousal love are described and used in this regard: the beauty of love in the early stage of courtship (Cf. Jeremiah 2:2), the fullness of joy on the wedding day (Cf. Isaiah 62:5), the drama of separation (Cf. Hosea 2:4) and finally the rebirth, full of hope, of the old bond (Cf. Hosea 2:16, Isaiah 54:8).
Malachi shows the positive effect that the prophetic message could have on human marriage, and especially, on the condition of women. He writes:
“The Lord is acting as the witness between you and the wife of your youth, because you have broken faith with her, though she is your partner, the wife of your marriage covenant. Has not the Lord made them one? In flesh and spirit they are his. And why one? Because he was seeking godly offspring. So guard yourself in your spirit, and do not break faith with the wife of your youth.” (Malachi 2:14-15)
We have to read the Song of Songs in the light of this prophetic tradition. This represents a rebirth of the vision of marriage as eros, as attraction of the man to the woman (in this case, also of the woman to the man) according to the oldest account of creation.
Marriage and Family in the New Testament
I. Christ’s renewal of marriage
St. Irenaeus explains the “recapitulation (anakephalaiosis) of all things” performed by Christ (Ephesians 1:10) as a “taking things from the beginning to lead them to their fulfillment.” The concept implies continuity and novelty at the same time and in this sense it is fulfilled in an exemplary way in Christ’s work with regards to marriage.
Chapter 19 of the Gospel of St. Matthew alone is enough to illustrate the two aspects of renewal. Let us see first of all how Jesus takes things anew from the beginning.
“Some Pharisees came to him to test him. They asked, ‘Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any and every reason?’ ‘Haven't you read,’ he replied, ‘that at the beginning the Creator "made them male and female," (Genesis 1:27) and said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Genesis 2:24). So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate’” (Matthew 19:3-6).
The adversaries move in the restricted confines of the case-based reasoning proper to different schools (is it licit to divorce the woman for any motive or is a specific and serious motive required); Jesus responds by tackling the problem at the root, going to the beginning. In his response, Jesus refers to the two accounts of the institution of marriage; he takes elements from both, but above all he highlights the aspects of the communion of persons present in both accounts.
What follows in the text, regarding the problem of divorce, also follows this same direction; in fact he confirms the fidelity and indissolubility of the marital bond above even the good of offspring, on the basis of which polygamy, levirate and divorce had been justified in the past.
“'Then why did Moses command that a writ of dismissal should be given in cases of divorce?' He said to them, 'It was because you were so hard-hearted, that Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but it was not like this from the beginning. Now I say this to you: anyone who divorces his wife -- I am not speaking of an illicit marriage -- and marries another, is guilty of adultery'” (Matthew 19:7-9).
In Jesus’ response we can see an implicit sacramental foundation of marriage present. The words “What God has joined” say that marriage is not a purely secular reality, fruit of human will; there is a sacred aspect to marriage that is rooted in divine will. The elevation of marriage to a “sacrament” therefore is not based solely on Jesus’ presence at the wedding of Cana, nor in the text of Ephesians 5 alone. In a certain way it begins with the earthly Jesus and is part of his leading all things to the beginning. John Paul II is also right when he defines marriage as the “oldest sacrament.”
Thus far we have focused on the continuity. What is the novelty? Paradoxically it consists in making marriage relative. Let’s listen to the following text from Matthew:
"The disciples said to him, 'If that is how things are between husband and wife, it is advisable not to marry. But he replied, 'It is not everyone who can accept what I have said, but only those to whom it is granted. There are eunuchs born so from their mother's womb, there are eunuchs made so by human agency and there are eunuchs who have made themselves so for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can'" (Matthew 19:10-12).
With these words Jesus institutes a second state of life, justifying it by the coming to the earth of the Kingdom of Heaven. It does not eliminate the other possibility, marriage, but it makes it relative. What happens to it is similar to the idea of the state in the political sphere: It is not abolished, but rather radically limited by the revelation of the contemporary presence, within history, of the Kingdom of God.
Therefore, voluntary continence does not need to deny or despise marriage so that its own validity can be recognized. (Some ancient authors made this mistake in some of their writings on virginity). What’s more, it derives its meaning from none other than contemporary affirmation of the goodness of marriage. The institution of celibacy and virginity for the Kingdom ennobles marriage in the sense that it becomes a choice, a vocation, and not just simply a moral duty to which it was impossible not to submit oneself in Israel without exposure to the accusation of trespassing God’s commandment.
Marriage and family in the Apostolic Church
Just as we have done with God’s original project, also concerning the renewal worked by Christ we intend to see how it was received and lived in the life and catechesis of the Church, limiting ourselves to the reality of the apostolic Church for the moment. Paul is our primary source of information, having had to dedicate himself to the problem in some of his letters, above all in the First Letter to the Corinthians.
The Apostle distinguishes between what comes directly from the Lord and the particular applications that he himself makes when required by the context in which he preaches the Gospel. The confirmation of the indissolubility of marriage is part of the first type: “To the married I give this ruling, and this is not mine but the Lord's: a wife must not be separated from her husband or if she has already left him, she must remain unmarried or else be reconciled to her husband -- and a husband must not divorce his wife. (1 Corinthians 7:10-11); the guidance regarding marriage between believers and nonbelievers and the provisions regarding celibates and virgins is part of the second type of the Apostle's teaching: “I have no directions from the Lord, but I give my own opinion” (1 Corinthians 7:10;7:25).
The Church has received from Jesus also the element of novelty which consists, as we have seen, in the institution of a second state of life: celibacy and virginity for the Kingdom. To them, Paul, he himself not married, dedicates the final part of Chapter 7 of his letter. Based on the verse: “I should still like everyone to be as I am myself; but everyone has his own gift from God, one this kind and the next something different” (1 Corinthians 7:7), some think that the Apostle considers marriage and virginity as two charisms.
But that is not accurate; virgins have received the charism of virginity, married people have other charisms (understood, not that of virginity). It’s meaningful that the Church’s theology has always considered virginity a charism and not a sacrament, and marriage a sacrament and not a charism.
The text of the Letter to the Ephesians will have a noteworthy effect in the process that will bring about the recognition of the sacramentality of marriage:
“This is why a man leaves his father and mother and becomes attached to his wife, and the two become one flesh. This mystery (in Latin, sacramentum) has great significance, but I am applying it to Christ and the Church” (Ephesians 5:31-32).
As the apostolic community grows and consolidates, we see how an entire familial pastoral practice and spirituality flower. The most meaningful texts in this regard are the letters to the Colossians and to the Ephesians. Both of them show the two fundamental relationships that constitute family: the relationship between husband and wife and the relationship between parents and children.
With regard to the first relationship, the Apostle writes:
“Submit to each other in the fear of Christ. Women to their husbands, as to the Lord… As the Church is submissive to Christ, so also should wives submit to their husbands in all. Husbands, love your wives as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her.”
Paul recommended that husbands “love” their wife (and this seems normal to us), but then he recommends that wives be “submissive” to their husband, and this, in a society that is strongly (and rightfully) conscious of the equality of the sexes, seems unacceptable. On this point St. Paul is, at least in part, conditioned by the customs of his time. The difficulty, on the other hand, changes if we keep in mind the phrase from the beginning of the text: “Be submissive to one another in the fear of Christ,” which establishes reciprocity in submission and in love.
With regard to the relationship between parents and children, Paul emphasizes the traditional advice of the wisdom books:
“Children, be obedient to your parents in the Lord -- that is what uprightness demands. The first commandment that has a promise attached to it is: Honor your father and your mother; and the promise is: so that you may have long life and prosper in the land. And parents, never drive your children to resentment but bring them up with correction and advice inspired by the Lord” (Ephesians 6:1-4).
The pastoral letters, especially the Letter to Titus, offer detailed rules for every category of person: women, spouses, bishops and priests, old people, young people, widows, owners and slaves (cf. Titus 2:1-9). In fact slaves were also part of the family in the broad understanding of the time.
In the early Church as well, the ideal of marriage that Jesus proposes will not be put into practice without shadows and resistance. In addition to the case of incest of Corinth (1 Corinthians 8:1), this is borne out by the need the apostles feel of insisting on this aspect of the early Christian life. But overall, the Christians presented the world a new family model that became one of the principal factors in evangelization.
The author of the letter to Diognetus, in the second century, says that the Christians “marry as everyone else does and have children, but they do not abandon the newborns; they have a common table, but not a common bed” (V:6-7). In his Apology, Justin constructs an argument that we Christians of today should be able to make our own in dialogue with political authorities. In essence he says the following: You, Roman emperors, multiply the laws about family, which have proven to be incapable of stopping its dissolution. Come to see our families and you will be convinced Christians are your better allies in the reform of society, not your enemies. In the end, as is known, after three centuries of persecution, the Empire accepted the Christian family model in its own legislation.
What The Bible Teaches Us Today
Rereading the Bible in a context like the present one cannot be limited to a simple reminder of revealed knowledge, but rather it should be able to enlighten current problems. “Scriptures, as St. Gregory the Great said, grow with the one that reads them” (cum legentibus crescit); They reveal new implications to the measure in which new questions are posed to them. And today there are many new and provocative questions.
Objection to the biblical ideal
We are confronted by a seemingly global objection to the biblical plan for sexuality, marriage and family. How should we react in the face of this phenomenon? The first error we should avoid, in my opinion, is spending the whole time fighting contrary theories, in the end giving them more importance than they deserve. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagita noted a long time ago that the exposition of one’s truth is always more successful than rebutting the errors of others (Letter VI, in PG 3, 1077A). Another error is to rely too much on civil laws to defend Christian values. The first Christians, as we have seen, changed the laws of the state through their lifestyle. We cannot do the contrary today, hoping to change lifestyles with the laws of the state.
The Council opened a new method, that of dialogue, not confrontation with the world: a method which does not even exclude self criticism. One of the Council documents said that the Church can benefit even from the criticism of those that attack it. I believe that we should apply this method also in discussing the problems of marriage and the family, as "Gaudium et Spes" did in its own time.
Applying this method of dialogue means trying to see if even behind the most radical attacks there is a positive request that we should welcome. It is the old Pauline method of examining everything and keeping the good (cf. 1 Thessalonians 5:21).
The criticism of the traditional model of marriage and family, which have led to the current, unacceptable, proposals of deconstructionism, begun with the Enlightenment and Romanticism. With different intentions, these two movements objected to traditional marriage, seen exclusively as its objective “ends" -- offspring, society, Church; and to little in itself -- in its subjective and interpersonal value. Everything was asked of the future spouses, except that they love each other and choose each other freely. Marriage as a pact (Enlightenment) and as a communion of love (Romanticism) between the spouses was proposed to contradict such a model.
But this criticism follows the original meaning of the Bible, it does not contradict it! The Second Vatican Council took in this request when it recognized as equally central to marriage both mutual love and support of the spouses. John Paul II, in a Wednesday catechesis said:
“The human body, with its sex, and its masculinity and femininity seen in the very mystery of creation, is not only a source of fruitfulness and procreation, as in the whole natural order. It includes right from the beginning the nuptial attribute, that is, the capacity of expressing love, that love in which the person becomes a gift and -- by means of this gift -- fulfills the meaning of his being and existence.”
In his encyclical “Deus Caritas Est,” Pope Benedict XVI has gone even farther, writing deep and new things with regards to eros in marriage and in the very relationship between God and man. “This close relationship between eros and marriage that the Bible presents has practically no parallel in literature outside itself."
We are far from agreeing with the consequences that some today draw from this premise: for example, that any type of eros is enough to constitute a marriage, even that between persons of the same sex; but this rejection gains greater strength and credibility if it is connected to the recognition of the underlying goodness of the request and as well with a healthy self criticism.
Another request we can make our own is that of the dignity of women in marriage. As we can see, it is at the very heart of God’s original plan and Christ’s thought, but it has almost always been neglected. God’s word to Eve: “You will be drawn to your spouse and he will dominate you” has been tragically played out throughout history.
Among the representatives of the so-called gender revolution, this idea has led to crazy proposals, such as that of abolishing the distinction between sexes and substituting it with the more elastic and subjective distinction of “genders” (masculine, feminine, variable) or that of freeing women from the slavery of maternity, providing other means, invented by man, for the production of children. (It is not clear who would continue to have interest or desire at this point in having children.)
It is precisely through choosing to dialogue and engage in self-criticism that we have the right to denounce these projects as “inhuman," in other words, contrary to not only God’s will, but also to the good of humanity. If they were to become common practice on a large scale, they would lead to unforeseeable damages.
Our only hope is that people’s common sense, together with the “desire” for the other sex, with the need for maternity and paternity that God has written in human nature, resist these attempts to substitute God. They are inspired more by belated feelings of guilt in men than by genuine respect and love for women.
An ideal that must be rediscovered
Christian’s task of rediscovering and fully living the biblical ideal of marriage and family is no less important than defending it. In this way it can be proposed again to the world with facts, more so than with words.
Let’s read today the account of the creation of man and woman in the light of the revelation of the Trinity. Under this light, the phrase: “God created mankind in his image, in his image he created him, male and female he created them” finally reveals its meaning, which was mysterious and uncertain before Christ. What relation could there be between being “in the image of God” and being “male and female?” The God of the Bible does not have sexual connotations; he is neither male nor female.
The analogy consists in this: God is love and love demands communion, interpersonal exchange; it needs to have an “I” and a “you."
There is no love that is not love for someone. Where there is only one subject there can be no love, only egotism and narcissism. Where God is thought of as Law and as absolute Power, there is no need for a plurality of persons. (Power can be exercised alone!). The God revealed by Jesus Christ, being love, is one and only, but he is not solitary; he is one and triune. In him coexist unity and distinction: unity of nature, of will, of intention, and distinction of characteristics and persons.
Two people that love each other, and the case of man and woman in marriage is the strongest, reproduce something that happens in the Trinity. There two persons, the Father and the Son, loving each other, produce (“breathe”) the Spirit that is the love that joins them. Someone once defined the Holy Spirit as the divine “We,” that is, not the “third person of the Trinity," but rather the first person plural.
Precisely in this way the human couple is an image of God. Husband and wife are in effect a single flesh, a single heart, a single soul, even in the diversity of sex and personality. In the couple, unity and diversity reconcile themselves. The spouses face each other as an “I” and a “you”, and face the rest of the world, beginning with their own children, as a “we," almost as if it was a single person, no longer singular but rather plural. “We," in other words, “your mother and I," “your father and I."
In light of this we discover the profound meaning of the prophets’ message regarding human marriage, which is a symbol and reflection of another love, God’s love for his people. This doesn’t involve overburdening a purely human reality with mystical meaning. It is not a question simply of symbolism; rather it involves revealing the true face and final purpose of the creation of man and woman: leaving one’s own isolation and “egotism," opening up to the other, and through the temporal ecstasy of carnal union, elevating oneself to the desire for love and for happiness without end.
What’s the reason for the incompleteness and dissatisfaction that sexual union leaves within and outside of marriage? Why does this impulse always fall over itself and why does this promise of infinity and eternity always end up disappointed? The ancients coined a phrase that paints this reality: “Post coitum animal triste”: just like any other animal, man is sad after carnal union.
As Christians, do we want to find an explanation once and for all for this devastating dysfunction? The explanation is that sexual union is not lived in the way and with the purpose in which God intended it. The purpose was, through this ecstasy and fusion of love, that man and woman would be elevated to the desire and have a certain taste for infinite love. They would remember from whence they came and where they were going.
Sin - beginning with the biblical sin of Adam and Eve -, has gutted this plan; it has “profaned” this gesture, in other words, it has stripped it of its religious value. It has turned it into a gesture that is an end in itself, which finishes with itself, and is therefore “unsatisfactory." The symbol has been separate from the reality is symbolizes, bereft of its intrinsic dynamism and therefore mutilated. Never as much as in this case is St. Augustine's saying true: “You made us, Lord, for you and our heart is restless until it rests in you.”
Even couples that are believers don’t come to find this richness of the initial meaning of sexual union due to the idea of concupiscence and original sin associated with the act for so many centuries. Only in the witness of some couples that have had a renewing experience of the Holy Spirit and that live Christian life charismatically do we find something of that original meaning of the conjugal act. They have confided with wonder, to friends or a priest, that they unite praising God out loud, and even singing in tongues. It was a real experience of God’s presence.
It is understandable why it is only possible to find this fullness of the marital vocation in the Holy Spirit. The constitutive act of marriage is reciprocal self-giving, making a gift of one’s own body (which in biblical language means of one’s whole self) to the spouse. In being the sacrament of the gift, marriage is, by its nature, a sacrament that is open to the action of the Holy Spirit, who is the Gift par excellence, or better said, the reciprocal self-giving of the Father and the Son. It is the sanctifying presence of the Spirit that makes marriage not only a celebrated sacrament, but a lived sacrament.
The secret to getting access to these splendors of Christian love is to give Christ space within the life of the couple. In fact, the Holy Spirit that makes all things new, comes from him. A book by Fulton Sheen, popular in the 50s, reiterated this with its title: “Three to Get Married.” From a deeper point of view Teilhard de Chardin had arrived to the same conclusion: “Love is a function between three terms: man, woman and God”.
I end with some words taken once again from "The Satin Slipper" by Claudel. It is a dialogue between the woman of the drama and her guardian angel. The woman struggles between her fear and the desire to surrender herself to love:
- So, is this love of the creatures, one for another, allowed? Isn’t God jealous?
- How could He be jealous of what He Himself made?
- But man, in the arms of the woman, forgets God…
- Can they forget Him when they are with Him, participating in the mystery of his creation?
--- --- ---
 P. Claudel, Le soulier de satin, a.III. sc.8 (éd. La Pléiade, II, Paris 1956, p. 804) : «Cet orgueilleux, il n'y avait pas d'autre moyen de lui faire comprendre le prochain, de le lui entres dans la chair.
Il n'y avait pas d'autre moyen de lui faire comprendre la dépendance, la nécessité et le besoin, un autre sur lui,
La loi sur lui de cet être différent pour aucune autre raison si ce n'est qu'il existe».
 B. Wannenwetsch, Mariage, in Dictionnaire Critique de Théologie, a cura di J.-Y. Lacoste, Parigi 1998, p. 700.
 Cf. G. Campanini, Matrimonio, in Dizionario di Teologia, Ed. San Paolo 2002, pp. 964 s.
 Giovanni Paolo II, Uomo e donna lo creò. Catechesi sull'amore umano, Rome 1985, p. 365.
 Cf. B. Griffin, Was Jesus a Philosophical Cynic? [http://www-oxford.op.org/allen/html/acts.htm]; C. Augias e M. Pesce, Inchiesta su Gesú, Mondadori, 2006, pp. 121 ss.
 E.P. Sanders, Gesù e il giudaismo, Marietti, 1992, pp.324 ss.; J. Neusner, A Rabbi Talks with Jesus, McGill-Queen's University Press, 2000, pp. 53-72.
 T. Anatrella, Définitions des termes du Néo-langage de la philosophie du Constructivisme et du genre, a cura del Pontificium Consilium pro Familia, Città del Vaticano Novembre 2008.
 John Paul II, Discours at the general audience of 16 gennaio 1980 (Insegnamenti di Giovanni Paolo II, Libreria Editrice Vaticana 1980, p. 148).
 Benedict XVI, Enc. Deus caritas est, 11.
 Cf. Cf. H. Mühlen, Der Heilige Geist als Person. Ich -Du -Wir, Muenster, in W. 1966.
 Lucretius, De rerum natura, IV,2 vv. 1104-1107.
 F. Sheen, Three to Get Married, Appleton-Century-Crofts 1951.
 P. Teilhard de Chardin, Esquisse d’un Univers personnel, 1936.
 P. Claudel, Le soulier de satin, a.III. sc.8 (éd. La Pléiade, II, Paris 1956, pp. 804):
Pope Francis on Friday night urged Filipino families to serve as “sanctuaries of respect for life” by proclaiming the sacredness of life from birth to death.
“What a gift this would be to society if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation,” Francis said, addressing a rally of Filipino families at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
In what could be the best received address so far of his five-day apostolic visit to the Philippines, Francis exhorted the families to “[r]est in the Lord like Joseph, and rise with Jesus and Mary” and urged them to protect the family from the “ideological colonization” of migration, materialism and redefinition, and raise holy families.
Showing that the family is close to his heart, Francis deviated from his prepared text and spoke about a couple dreaming of their child during the nine months of pregnancy.
“Is it true or not?” he asked the crowd. “It is not possible to have a family without such a dream.”
“If you lose this capacity to dream, then you lose the capacity to love…,” he said, drawing cheers from the crowd. “I recommend that you examine your consciences: Today, did I dream about my sons and daughters?”
“Did I dream about the love of my husband and wife?” he added. “Don’t lose this ability to dream.”
Addressing himself to the thousands of families in the arena and across the country, Francis issued a pastoral message, nudging Filipinos not to lose their capability to dream of others.
Despite the serious tone, he showed yet again his tenderness and candor when he kissed, hugged and blessed babies, the sick and the elderly on the road, and inside the arena.
“Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always,” he said.
The Pope celebrated a liturgy program for the thousands of families that gathered in and out of the arena, where he delivered an allocution after a reading from the Gospel from Matthew.
Representing Filipino families, three select families—the Dizons, Pumaradas and Cruzes—delivered testimonies on poverty, migration and disability.
Drawing from Matthew’s Gospel on an angel’s warning in a dream to St. Joseph on the dangers facing the Holy Family, the Pope divided his talk into three segments: “Resting in the Lord, rising with Jesus and Mary, and being a prophetic voice.”
“The Scriptures seldom speak of St. Joseph, but when they do we often find him resting, as an angel reveals God’s will to him in his dreams,” he began, noting that in the reading, Joseph was resting not once but twice.
“This evening I would like to rest in the Lord with all of you, and to reflect with you on the gift of family,” he added before a packed audience.
Then he proceeded to speak on the three subtopics, reading from a text in English, but often digressing in Spanish to speak about his personal thoughts and feelings.
The Pope said that rest was essential for spiritual health “so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us.”
Make home for Jesus
“Joseph was chosen by God to be the foster father of Jesus, and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. You make a home for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities,” he said.
“To hear and accept God’s call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest in the Lord,” he added.
To accomplish this, everyone must make time for prayer every day, otherwise “we will not know the most important thing of all: God’s will for us.”
“And for all our activity, our busy-ness, without prayer, we will accomplish little,” he said, urging Filipinos to pray as a family, and learn “to move beyond our needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them.”
Speaking on the topic of Rising with Jesus and Mary, the Pontiff urged families to “rise from our slumber,” saying that each one has a “special role in preparing for the coming of God’s kingdom” in the world.
He cautioned Filipinos against the “ideological colonization” of poverty-driven migration of Filipinos abroad in search of jobs, materialism and attempts to redefine family.
A tenth of the Philippines’ population of 100 million work in other countries because of the lack of jobs at home, creating an imbalance in which only one parent raises the children, who care little about the absence of the other parent because they get all of their material needs, bought with the absent parent’s foreign earnings.
“The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers that threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth,” he said.
“So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families, and to protect them from harm,” he said.
Speaking of the Philippines, the Pope cited the countless families reeling from the aftermath of disasters, as well as families separated by migration and search for employment.
“While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles, which are destructive of family life, and the most basic demands of Christian morality,” he said.
Redefinition of marriage
Also, the family is threatened by “growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life,” the Pope said.
He then exhorted Filipinos to build good, strong, holy and loving families.
“Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats,” he said.
“Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of the humanity as St. John Paul often said, passes through the family,” he said.
“So protect your families. See in them your country’s greatest treasure, and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them,” he said.
“Don’t ever lose the illusion of your boyfriend and girlfriend,” he continued, drawing wild cheers, and faint chants of “Viva, Papa.”
In his message, the Pope also reminded Filipinos about their Christian duty to serve as prophetic voices in communities.
“When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world,” he said.
At the same time, in the Year of the Poor, he also reminded Filipinos about their call as “missionary disciples of Jesus.”
“This means being ready to go beyond your homes, and to care for our brothers who are most in need,” he said, calling on Filipinos to show concern especially for the elderly and children without parents.
The Pope motored to the arena in his open-side popemobile, and as soon as it rolled into view on the wide screen, the families roared into cheers. He arrived at around 5:30 p.m., and was welcomed by Antipolo Bishop Gabriel V. Reyes.
Reyes chairs the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ Episcopal Commission on Family and Life.
Lawyer Francisco “King” Rodrigo, his wife Boots Anson-Rodrigo and their family welcomed the Pope with a message, and a garland of sampaguitas.
The ceremony began with a gathering song, greeting and opening prayer. This was followed by the testimonies from the three families. And it ended with the Lord’s Prayer, with the families singing along.
Before he arrived in the arena, he stopped to kiss a girl in a red bonnet, drawing cheers from the crowd.
Once inside, amid chants and roars, he walked into the front-row seats to kiss, hug and bless babies, toddlers, the sick, the disabled and elderly.
Touched by the Pope
In one such moment of tenderness, he touched the face of a boy crying on the lap of his father, as if to hush him.
“He was smiling. That’s the image I have of him,” said wheelchair-bound Peter John Barcelon, 24, of Calapan, Mindoro, who was touched on the forehead by the Pope.
“He’s a very simple and humble guy. He’s Jesus Christ personified,” said cardiologist Victoria Edna Monzon, who was also in a wheelchair, and also blessed by the Pope.
“He’s very warm. I don’t know how to express,” said Justa Dy, 88, also in a wheelchair.
“I felt so blessed. I had an on-and-off pain, and today is the most painful,” Susan Chong, who was also blessed by the Pope, said of a pinched nerve. “It was really the Lord’s blessing.”
The Pope’s exhortation to protect the families resonated with Marites Burce, 35, who showed up with her husband, Enrico, a person with disability like her, and their two daughters.
“We should pray together so the family will be strong. He also said that the family can be a blessing of the world,” she said.
VIPs also attended the Pope’s meeting with the families for different reasons.
Former Sen. Joey Lina and his wife, Lory, both members of the Elim Catholic community, turned up with their five children at the arena to “pray” together with the Pope.
“This is an opportunity to pray together for believers, for people who are active in the church. You don’t know how the Holy Spirit will work. But I think it’s important to be here,” Lory said hours before the Pope motored to the arena.
Their children, who are members of their community’s youth ministry, accompanied them, but stayed behind outside the arena.
Direction of the Church
While invited as chair of the Philippine National Red Cross, former Sen. Richard Gordon saw the event as an opportunity to see the Pope up close.
“I met John Paul II twice. I also saw Pope Benedict. I’m very fortunate to have seen two or three great Popes in my lifetime. The Pope is the Vicar of Christ here on earth, and obviously the way he speaks, he shows the direction of the Church,” Gordon said.
“I like the way this Jesuit Pope is taking the Church into a more meaningful Church. In the same way, the government should be more meaningful, and go beyond forms, go beyond substance, go beyond recriminations, and focus on building the nation,” he added.
The liturgy program was preceded by the praying of the rosary, a family’s consecration to Jesus, Mary and Joseph, and hours of entertainment, including songs, dances, a play and games
Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/665398/pope-dont-lose-ability-to-dream#ixzz3P2S2mYMW
Key Messages of Pope Francis Family at the Center of Society By Father John Flynn, LC
ROME, January 25, 2015 (Zenit.org) - In his visit to Sri Lanka and the Philippines, Pope Francis left behind in his speeches and homilies a number of important points worth reflecting on.
In Sri Lanka inter-religious relations was a key point. On his arrival at the airport he said that it was important that all the religions work together in overcoming past civil conflict and rebuilding the country.
“All must be free to express their concerns, their needs, their aspirations and their fears. Most importantly, they must be prepared to accept one another, to respect legitimate diversities, and learn to live as one family.”
Later, at an interreligious meeting he declared that the Catholic Church has a “deep and abiding respect for other religions.”
“It is in this spirit of respect that the Catholic Church desires to cooperate with you, and with all people of good will, in seeking the welfare of all Sri Lankans,” he continued.
At the same time if the dialogue between religions is to be successful it has to be based on a clear and full presentation of the respective beliefs. Only if we are honest in setting forward what we believe in will there be cooperation and mutual esteem.
At the canonization of Saint Joseph Vaz, Pope Francis again touched on inter-religious matters commenting that the Church is prepared to serve all, no matter which religion they follow. He also insisted on the need for religious freedom so that every individual is free from intimidation or external compulsion.
Honesty and integrity
After his arrival in the Philippines, Pope Francis met with government authorities and the diplomatic corp. Two of the themes that were to be a constant in his visit there were raised at the very start, namely the need for social justice and respect for human dignity.
He said it was, “necessary that political leaders be outstanding for honesty, integrity and commitment to the common good. In this way they will help preserve the rich human and natural resources with which God has blessed this country.”
We need to hear the voice of the poor, he insisted, and reforming the social structures requires a conversion of mind and heart, as well as a rejection of every form of corruption.
The Pope then turned to the family, another key theme during his visit: “Families have an indispensable mission in society. It is in the family that children are trained in sound values, high ideals and genuine concern for others. But like all God’s gifts, the family can also be disfigured and destroyed. It needs our support.”
He insisted on the right to life and the need to transmit to children the core values that sustain a culture of integrity.
In his homily at the Mass with bishops, priests, and religious Pope Francis once again mentioned the need to be concerned about poverty, but not only material poverty as preaching the Gospel is an essential task for all.
“We proclaim the joy of the Gospel. For the Gospel is the promise of God’s grace, which alone can bring wholeness and healing to our broken world. It can inspire the building of a truly just and redeemed social order.”
“The poor are at the center of the Gospel, are at heart of the Gospel, if we take away the poor from the Gospel we can’t understand the whole message of Jesus Christ,” he continued. He also said that the Gospel “means rejecting worldly perspectives and seeing all things anew in the light of Christ.”
At the meeting of families in Manila Pope Francis insisted on the need of prayer in family life. “You must make time each day to rest in the Lord, to pray.”
More than once in his visit he referred to the need to beware of false ideas that threaten family life: “Let us be on guard against colonization by new ideologies.” He also referred to the danger of attempts to redefine marriage and of the lack of openness to human life.
In his homily at the final mass last Sunday, Pope Francis once more said it was necessary to defend families. St Joseph, he said, reminds us of the importance of protecting our families, and those larger families which are the Church, God’s family, and the world, our human family.
At the first general audience last Wednesday after returning to Rome, Pope Francis commented on his recent trip and once more turned to consider the family. “Healthy families are essential to the life of society,” he said.
He also denied that large families were the main cause of poverty. “I can say that the main cause of poverty is an economic system that has removed the person from the center and put the god of money there,” he noted.
With one Synod on the family just finished and another to come we can expect to hear a lot more from the Pope about this subject.