At World Meeting of Families, the Holy Father offered advice and support to all of us.
The Holy Father began by comparing the family to a celebration, emphasizing the importance of each member, even the littlest ones.
“I keep encouraging parents to baptize their children as soon as possible, so that they can become part of this great family of God,” he said. “We need to invite everyone to the party, even the smallest child! That is why children should be baptized soon after birth.”
Next he strongly affirmed the importance of families to the Church as a whole.
“What would the Church look like without you?” he asked, describing holy lay people as “saints next door” and encouraging them to live in a way that proclaims the Gospel: “God wants every family to be a beacon of the joy of his love in our world.”
He offered some advice to family members, urging them to practice frequent and ready forgiveness.
“Small and simple acts of forgiveness, renewed each day, are the foundation upon which a solid Christian family life is built,” he said.
God’s grace and continual acts of love and forgiveness will create a family culture that is “the fulfilment in love” for its members, he said, comparing the building of this environment to “a good cup of tea” that “takes time and patience” to brew.
Above all, he encouraged family members to build their lives on the solid foundation of faith in and love for God.
“Christian marriage and family life are only seen in all their beauty and attractiveness if they are anchored in the love of God,” he said, reminding his audience of the old saying: “The family that prays together, stays together.”
Finally, he exhorted families not to lose hope if their own families fail to live up to their ideal.
“There is no such thing as a perfect family,” he said. Instead, “without the practice of forgiveness, families can grow sick and eventually collapse.”
As the family goes, so goes the nation and all of society. Today’s families are continually under threat from a culture that regards just about everything as temporary and disposable, making Pope Francis’ message of faithful perseverance particularly needed.
“As families, you are the hope of the Church and of the world,” Pope Francis said at the end of his address. His words remind Christian families of their vocation, to be domestic churches and sanctuaries of love in the midst of the world.
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