The greatest answer to the world’s questions and concerns about marriage and family, said St. Pope John Paul II, was to see it witnessed and lived by Catholics.
He used the word “witness” 40 times in his groundbreaking document on the Family in the Modern World.
The only way to “win” on marriage and family is the hard way. No one will follow Church teaching unless each of us becomes a “genuine witness,” a “credible witness,” a “witness of love,” a “witness of faith” — a “witness of a life lived in conformity with the divine law in all its aspects.”
5. Threats to the family are as urgent as threats to peace.
“At the start of a millennium, which began with the terrifying attacks of September 11, 2001 … one cannot recite the Rosary without feeling caught up in a clear commitment to advancing peace,” said St. John Paul II, then added, “A similar need for commitment and prayer arises in relation to another critical contemporary issue: the family.”
It was when Pope John Paul II made that urgent call that my own family, which had been spotty at best at praying the rosary, began to do so in earnest. This October, the month of the rosary, is a great time to redouble our efforts.
St. John Paul was indeed a prophet: Lose the family and you lose personal identity, real couple-love and solidarity, the love that holds society together.
Lose the family and you lose everything.
As Cardinal George Pell of Australia said at the close of the Synod, we are in no danger of losing our rich Catholic teaching on the family. “Our task now is to ask people to pause, pray, and catch their breath.”
St. John Paul II, join us in this prayer. Help us be worthy witnesses of the great and vital truths of the family that you expressed so eloquently — and so urgently.
Tom Hoopesis writer-in-residence at Benedictine College.