When God takes us at our word

“Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness” is the theme of the Tenth World Meeting of Families promoted by the Catholic Church, to take place June 22-26, in 2022. Two married Focolarini, Marcelo Chávez and Pia Noria who coordinate the New Families Movement in part of South America (Argentina, Chile, Uruguay and Paraguay) share their own story and the build up to this event.

“As a child I felt God calling me to follow Him, even though I didn’t know what way I should take. After a time of discernment I understood marriage would be my way”, explains Marcelo Chávez, husband to Pia and father to three wonderful daughters. With Pia he found a vocation born from long years of friendship in which they shared the same ideal of life, leading to a a beautiful engagement journey and the great adventure of matrimony. They form a family which hopes to be a “living Church” alongside many other protagonists of the tenth World Meting of Families in Rome, Italy, from 22 to 26 June, 2022. The theme: “Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness

How are you preparing for this event which, in his introductory message Pope Francis has described as, due to the pandemic, bearing a “multicentered and widespread format”?
When Pope Francis inaugurated the Year of Amoris Laetitia Family in March 2021 and announced that there would be a concluding World Meeting of Families in Rome, we immediately felt called to be present at this event. Then in July 2021, the Pope invited everyone to participate using a new format with all dioceses gathering families together for a local experience. In this, we saw how Rome was opening wide its arms to the world, towards all families no matter how far away, so no-one need be excluded.  We realised we could experience this miracle of unity among families as protagonists and not as distant observers. So we’ll now participate in the Meeting in our own place, supporting the initiatives of our Archdiocese of Santiago del Cile, together with other ecclesial movements.

As a family, what does it mean to follow a way towards holiness?
On 6 September 2021 we celebrated 18 years of marriage. And we’ve never had any doubts, not even in the hardest of times. Our calling is and always will be to love one another as God wants. God has taken our “yes” at our word, and He helps us to go ahead. We see this way towards holiness in marriage as a shared journey, something we do together, united, both of us contributing to the sanctification of each other.

How does Jesus support you in your life and what role does prayer have, particularly in this period of the Covid pandemic?
Day by day, throughout the past 18 years, we’ve come to realise that the measure of married love is truly to give our lives for one another. Making ourselves available for this, with Christ’s grace, has allowed us to discover how our very differences can take on a new dimension. Naturally, there’ve been plenty of situations when we found it more or less difficult to resolve our differences. But whenever we found ourselves in conflict, we experienced a strong desire to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and to continue to love Jesus in these challenges. We need courage and great strength of will, entrusting ourselves to God, to the Holy Family, in order to face all the complex situations life can and does present.  Prayer has always sustained us and keeps on sustaining us along the journey. It gives us strength and conviction that everything is the Love of God. Throughout the pandemic, in particular, praying as a family has been so important, as well as praying with the Focolare community and with other families. Even if we’ve been unable to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, we’ve understood that we still meet Him and His love can manifest itself among us.

In the press conference to launch the Meeting, Cardinal Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Vatican Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life said “Families are the seed to be sown in the world in order to make it fertile with real and credible witnesses of the beauty of family love.” How can this witness reach beyond the walls of the family home?
We look to the Holy Family of Nazareth. The greatness and importance of being a family today is still to be found there: to become the place where Jesus can be born and be given to the world. We experience how the love of God manifest in our lives can never remain within our own families, but must radiate outwards as the basis for meeting other families, other married and engaged couples. Everything is an opportunity to love and to give God’s love. Journeying together with other families means building community, sharing goods, needs, worries and taking care of the needs of all.

(Source: www.focolare.org – Maria Grazia Berretta)

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