"Society would become cold and unbearable without welcoming families."
Pope Francis kicked-off the 10th World Meeting of Families on the evening of June 22 by responding to the testimonies offered by couples and families who showed the many struggles that come in life – from crises in relationships to illness and death of loved ones.
The Holy Father’s address responded to each testimony one by one. Here we offer 13 excerpts that provide encouragement and insight as we face our own family lives:
Start from where you are, and, from there, try to journey together: together as couples, together in your families, together with other families, together with the Church.
Take a step forward, however small.
Never forget that closeness is the “style” of God, closeness and tender love.
We can have the loveliest dreams, the loftiest ideals, but in the end, we also discover – and this is wisdom – our own limitations, which we cannot overcome by ourselves but by opening ourselves to the Father, to his love and to his grace.
Marriage is a marvelous gift, which contains the power of God’s own love: strong, enduring, faithful, ready to start over after every failure or moment of weakness.
In marriage, Christ gives himself to you, so that you can find the strength to give yourselves to one another. So take heart: family life is not “mission impossible”!
The family is not a lofty ideal that is unattainable in reality. God solemnly promises his presence in your marriage and family, not only on the day of your wedding, but for the rest of your lives.
When it’s hard
Every marriage has its moments of crisis. We need to say this, not to hide it, and to take steps to overcome those crises.
Forgiveness heals every wound. Forgiveness is a gift welling up from the grace that Christ showers on couples and whole families whenever we let him act, whenever we turn to him.
It is important for all of us not to keep dwelling on the worst, but to maximize the best, the great goodness of which every man and woman is capable, and from there to start over again.
Welcome and warmth
Welcoming is a genuine “charism” of families, and especially of large families! We may think that, in a large home, it is harder to welcome other people; yet that is not the case, for families with numerous children are “trained” to make room for others. They always have room for others. In the end, this is what family is all about. In the family, we experience what it is to be welcomed. Husbands and wives are the first to “welcome” and accept one another, as they said they would do on the day of their marriage: “I take you…” Later, as they bring a child into the world, they welcome that new life. Whereas in cold and anonymous situations, the weak are often rejected, in families it is natural to welcome them: to accept a child with a disability, an elderly person in need of care, a family member in difficulty who has no one else… This gives hope. Families are places of welcome, and woe if they were to disappear! Society would become cold and unbearable without welcoming families. Welcome and generous families give “warmth” to society.
For the world
Living in the family together with others different from ourselves, we learn to be brothers and sisters. We learn to overcome divisions, prejudices and narrow-mindedness, and to build together something grand, something beautiful, on the basis of what we have in common.
Each of your families has a mission to carry out in our world, a testimony to give. … What is the word that the Lord wants to speak through our life to all those whom we meet? What “step forward” is he asking of our family, my family, today?