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What the World Meeting of Families means for your family

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Ben STANSALL | AFP

Soren and Ever Johnson  - published on 06/20/22

#WMOF22 is happening in Rome this month, and it has more implications for your family than you may think.

We get it. Big events come and go, while daily family life is relentlessly pushing you forward. It can be challenging to remember what your spouse said one minute ago, let alone translate last Sunday’s homily into a meaningful takeaway for your family’s pursuit of holiness. But an event taking place far away from all that? Forget about it.

Given that reality, why should any family care about the Year of the Family’s culminating event — the 10th Annual World Meeting of Families in Rome happening this month? (June 22-26 in Rome, but check your own diocese to see whether there is a similar event for families this summer.)

You can download the Vatican app that allows you to follow the event, watch videos, and read resources, but at the end of the day, what do a bunch of far-away talks on Pope Francis’ chosen theme—“Family Love: A Vocation and a Path to Holiness”—have to do with your own family?

Here are 5 specific ways the World Meeting connects with your own family: 

1. The Church is affirming your vocation to family life as a profound and salvific path to holiness.

It’s easy to slip into thinking that the work of the Church rests on the shoulders of priests and religious—and that the rollercoaster of family life is somehow “less than.” In fact, the Catechism affirms that the family is the “original cell” of society, that your family’s “communion of persons” closely resembles the persons of the Holy Trinity, and, as Pope St. John Paul II said, “The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” Full stop. All of this will be front and center at the World Meeting.   

2. The Church is saying that without your family being healthy, it cannot fulfill its mission in the world.

What happens in your home—the way you relate, the way you pray, the way you serve one another—has short- and long-term consequences for the life of the Church. Your family is a “domestic church,” a beacon of the universal Church in your neighborhood. The focus of the World Meeting will be on how every family can advance on the path to holiness.  

3. The Holy Father is asking your 1.2 billion fellow Catholics around the world to pray for the spiritual health of your family.

Leaders set the tone. There are countless issues Pope Francis could focus on, but he is prioritizing the need to pray for families—to strengthen and encourage them at a time when the chips, for so many, are down. The power and reality of intercessory prayer means that your brothers and sisters in Christ are lifting up your family’s intentions to the Lord. And with the World Meeting of Families official prayer, you and your family are also invited to intercede for others. 

4. The Church is investing resources to give your family better options for addressing your pain points.

Many families feel alone in their struggles—whether marital communication, finances, addiction, digital media, adoption, caring for their elderly, betrayal, or mental illness. In fact, each of these issues—and many more—will be given prime-time focus on a global stage. Here’s the program. From the pope all the way to your bishop and diocese’s office of Marriage and Family, to your own parish, the Church has a pressing concern for understanding your family’s struggles and delivering resources to you as you seek to build a flourishing Catholic home. (For a deep dive into how your bishop is looking at assisting your family, check out the U.S. Bishops’ Called to the Joy of Love framework, released in 2021).  

5. The Church is inviting you to invest in your own family’s life of faith.

How many families invest untold resources into college savings accounts, sports teams, or music lessons, but somehow drop the ball when it comes to investing the “10,000 hours” caliber of time needed to build a faith-filled culture in the home? It’s so easy to get distracted. Even just a few minutes on the WMOF site—which includes brief articles (our favorite is Pope Francis’ “Please, Thank You, Sorry” talk on the three words critical for family life)—may provide the motivation to take the next step in your home. 

Sure, we know how quickly the summer will come and go. Certainly not every family is going to focus on the proceedings of a far-off meeting. But that was never the Holy Father’s main point in convening the World Meeting of Families.  

Instead, he’s inviting every Catholic—and all those of goodwill, of any faith or no faith—to simply recognize the incontrovertible fact that humanity’s future rests on the foundation of the family, that the family is a vocation and a path to holiness, and that the family is under attack from every side.

And if all this is true, we would do well to roll up the sleeves and reflect deeply—and practically—on how to up our investment in our family’s life of faith.

As we do this, let’s join together in praying,

“Heavenly Father, we come before you to praise you and to thank you for the great gift of the family … Lord, grant that each family might live their specific vocation to holiness in the Church as a call to become missionary disciples …” (Prayer for the 10th World Meeting of Families). Amen. 

Soren and Ever Johnson have been invited to present a talk entitled “Discernment in Daily Family Life” at the World Meeting of Families on June 25, 2022.

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