A family, the Holy Father explained, must first be a “house of prayer” where relationships are regenerated in love and forgiveness.
Pope Francis will dedicate a special Year to the “Amoris laetitia family,” he announced before praying the midday Angelus on December 27, the feast of the Holy Family.
This celebration will begin on March 19, 2020, the feast of Saint Joseph, and will end in June 2022 at the World Meeting of Families, to be held in Rome. A web site with initiatives is already active here, which explains, “The family deserves a year of celebrations …”
This Year of the Family will overlap with the Year of St. Joseph, which has just begun. The Holy Father started a year dedicated to Jesus’ earthly father on December 8, feast of the Immaculate Conception, which will run till the same date in 2021.
Pope Francis reflected before leading the midday prayer that the Christmas period is conducive to contemplation of the Holy Family, which is “a sure point of reference” and “sure inspiration” for all families.
The launch of this special year on March 19 commemorates five years since the publication of the apostolic exhortation Amoris laetitia, on love in the family.
The year is about “continuing the synodal path” and deepening reflection on the synodal reflection “through pastoral proposals and tools.”
The Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life will be in charge of coordinating initiatives.
That Vatican panel has spelled out five goals of the Year:
1. Share the content of the Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitiamore widely, to let “people experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that fills hearts and lives” (AL 200). A family that discovers and experiences both the joy of having a gift, and of being a gift for the Church and society, “can become a light in the darkness of the world” (AL 66). And the world today certainly needs this light! 2. Proclaim that the sacrament of marriage is a gift and contains in itself a transforming power of human love. For this purpose, pastors and families must journey together with a sense of co-responsibility and pastoral complementarity between the different vocations in the Church (cf. AL 203). 3. Enable families to become active agents of the family apostolate. To this end, “an effort at evangelization and catechesis inside the family” (AL 200) is required, since a family of disciples turns into a missionary family. 4. Make young people aware of the importance of formation in the truth of love and in the gift of self, with initiatives dedicated to them. 5. Broaden the vision and scope of the family apostolate to embrace a cross-cutting approach, including married couples, children, young people, the elderly and situations of family fragility.
The Church family
On October 8, 2013, Pope Francis announced that the following year, in October 2014, there would be an Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, to discuss the family and evangelization.
The year after that, in October 2015, there was an Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the same topic.
Pope Francis’ post-synodal apostolic exhortation, Amoris Laetitia (“The Joy of Love”) — the result of his prayerful reflection on the discussions and outcomes of both synods — was released April 8, 2016.
Evangelizing by example
“In imitation of the Holy Family, we are called to rediscover the educational value of the family unit,” the Pontiff said today before praying the Angelus. The family must be founded “on love which always regenerates relationships, opening up horizons of hope,” and must tend towards “the ideal of conjugal and family love.”
A family, Pope Francis explained, must first be a “house of prayer” where relationships are regenerated in love and forgiveness.
The family must also find “the spiritual energy to open up to the outside world,” to become an evangelizing force with the “example of life” they give.
After the Angelus’ prayer, the pontiff entrusted to God “the families most affected” by the current pandemic.