Family, the welcoming face of the Church.

The 10th World Meeting of Families just concluded. “Be the seed of a more fraternal world” was Pope Francis’ mandate to all those families present.

“The Church is with you, indeed, the Church is in you!… May the Lord help you every day to remain in unity, peace, joy, and perseverance in difficult moments too.”

With these wishes Pope Francis greeted participants at the 10th World Meeting of Families, during the concluding Mass on 25 June in St. Peter’s Square. It was presided over by Cardinal Kevin Joseph Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life.

The celebration was preceded by intense days that, touching on various themes, highlighted the witness of so many families from all over the world. They were days that many lived in their own dioceses, creating, as the pope called it, “a sort of immense constellation.”

“They were moments full of beauty that touched us deeply, and we were truly able to experience God’s love for us, and for each family in the world,” says Keula, a member of the New Families Movement, an offshoot of the Focolare. She came to Rome with her husband Rogerio from Brazil.

Forgiveness, openness to life, accompanying children, the role of the elderly, and hope in providence were just some of the themes discussed during this 10th World Meeting of Families.

Held at the close of the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family, it had listening and consultation between family and marriage pastoral workers at its heart, with the goal of developing the theme chosen by the pope this year – “Family love: vocation and way to holiness”.

Among the stages of this journey were discussion about the shared responsibility of spouses and priests in the pastoral care of particular churches, the concrete difficulties of families in today’s societies, the preparation of couples for married life, and training the trainers in family pastoral care, which is full of challenges.

“We realized these past days how much the family can be a strength for the whole world today,” said Suse and Angelo from Korea. It is a force that must be defended and accompanied, and it can find a welcoming home in the Church and even become its expression.

In line with the readings from the liturgy, the pope also spoke of the importance of freedom during his homily in St. Peter’s Square, “one of the most-valued goods sought after by modern and contemporary man.” It takes shape when lived in the family sphere.

“All of you spouses, forming your family, with the grace of Christ have made this courageous choice: not to use freedom for yourselves, but to love the people God has placed beside you. Instead of living as ‘islands,’ you have put yourselves ‘at each other’s service.’

“This is how you live freedom in the family! There are no ‘planets’ or ‘satellites’, each traveling in its own orbit. The family is the first place where we learn to love.”

It is precisely in service that the family responds to its calling and moves forward on the path of family love, an outgoing love that is “always open, extroverted, capable of touching the weakest… fragile in body and fragile in soul,” continued Pope Francis.

“Love, in fact, even family love, is purified and strengthened when it is given.”

Keeping our feet firmly planted on the ground, realising the challenges of our time, but with our eyes always fixed on heaven – all this could be found in the missionary mandate to families that the Holy Father read at the end of the celebration. It was a true mandate: the invitation to respond to this call toward holiness and walk together.

“Be the seed of a more fraternal world. Be families with big hearts, be the welcoming face of the Church.”

(Source: – Maria Grazia Berretta)

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