IN IRELAND FOR THE IX WORLD MEETING OF FAMILIES
(25-26 AUGUST 2018)
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS
Croke Park Stadium (Dublin)
Saturday, 25 August 2018
Dear brothers and sisters, good evening!
Thank you for your warm welcome. It's great to be here! It is beautiful to celebrate, because it makes us more human and more Christian. It also helps us to share the joy of knowing that Jesus loves us, accompanies us on the journey of life and every day attracts us closer to himself.
In every family celebration, the presence of everyone is felt: fathers, mothers, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts, cousins, those who could not come and those who live too far away, all. Today in Dublin we are gathered for a family celebration of thanksgiving to God for what we are: one family in Christ, spread throughout the earth. The Church is the family of the children of God. A family in which one rejoices with those who are in joy and cries with those who are in pain or feel knocked out of life. A family in which care is taken of each one, because God our Father has made us all his children in Baptism. That's why I keep encouraging parents to have their children baptized as soon as possible, so that they can become part of God's great family. We need to invite everyone to the party, even the little baby! And for this it must be baptized soon. And there is another thing: if the child is baptized, the Holy Spirit enters his heart. Let's make a comparison: a child without baptism, because the parents say: "No, when it will be great", and a child with baptism, with the Holy Spirit inside: this is stronger, because it has the power of God inside!
You, dear families, are the great majority of the People of God. What would the Church look like without you? A Church of statues, a Church of lonely people ... It is to help us recognize the beauty and importance of the family, with its lights and its shadows, which was written in the Exhortation Amoris laetitia on the joy of love, and I wanted the theme of this World Meeting of Families to be "the Gospel of the family, joy for the world". God wants every family to be a beacon that radiates the joy of his love in the world. What does it mean? It means that, after having met the love of God who saves, we try, with or without words, to manifest it through small gestures of goodness in the daily routine and in the simplest moments of the day.
And what's his name? This is called holiness. I like to speak of the saints "in the next door", of all those common people who reflect the presence of God in life and in the history of the world (see Apostolic Exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, 6-7). The vocation to love and holiness is not something reserved for the privileged few, no. Even now, if we have eyes to see, we can see it around us. It is silently present in the hearts of all those families who offer love, forgiveness, mercy when they see that it is needed, and they do it quietly, without the sound of trumpets. The Gospel of the family is truly joy for the world, since there, in our families, Jesus can always be found; there he dwells in simplicity and poverty, as he did in the house of the Holy Family of Nazareth.
Christian marriage and family life are understood in all their beauty and attractiveness if they are anchored in the love of God, who created us in his image, so that we could give him glory as icons of his love and his holiness in the world. . Dads and mothers, grandparents and grandmothers, children and grandchildren: everyone, all called to find the fulfillment of love in the family. The grace of God helps every day to live with one heart and one soul. Even the mother-in-law and the daughter-in-law! Nobody says it's easy, you know it better than me. It's like making tea: it's easy to boil water, but a good cup of tea takes time and patience; you need to leave it in infusion! So, day after day, Jesus warms us with his love, making sure that all our being penetrates. From the treasure of his Sacred Heart, pour on us the grace that we need to heal our infirmities and open our minds and hearts to listen to us, understand each other and forgive one another.
We have just heard the testimonies of Felicité, Isaac and Ghislain, who come from Burkina Faso. They told us a moving story of forgiveness in the family. The poet said that "to err is human, to forgive is divine". And it is true: forgiveness is a special gift from God that heals our wounds and brings us closer to others and to him. Small and simple gestures of forgiveness, renewed every day, are the foundation on which a solid Christian family life is built. They force us to overcome pride, detachment and embarrassment to make peace. Many times we are angry with each other and we want to make peace, but we do not know how. It's an embarrassment to make peace, but we want to do it! It is not difficult. It's easy. Caress, and so peace is made! It's true, I like to say that in families we need to learn three words - you [Ghislain] said them - three words: "sorry", "please" and "thank you". Three words. How were the three words? All: [Sorry, please, thank you] Another time: [Sorry, please, thank you] I do not hear ... [Sorry, please, thank you] Thank you very much! When you argue at home, make sure you have apologized and said you are sorry before going to bed. Before the day ends, make peace. And do you know why it is necessary to make peace before ending the day? Because if you do not make peace, the next day, the "cold war" is very dangerous! Watch out for the cold war in the family! But perhaps sometimes you are angry and you are tempted to go to sleep in another room, alone and secluded; if you feel like that, simply knock at the door and say: "Please, can I come in?". What is needed is a look, a kiss, a sweet word ... and everything returns as before! I say this because, when families do it, they survive. There is no perfect family; without the habit of forgiveness, the family grows sick and gradually collapses.
Forgiving means giving something of oneself. Jesus always forgives us. With the strength of his forgiveness, we can forgive others too, if we really want it. Is not that for which we pray when we say our Father? Children learn to forgive when they see their parents forgiving each other. If we understand this, we can appreciate the greatness of Jesus' teaching about fidelity in marriage. Far from being a cold legal obligation, it is above all a powerful promise of God's fidelity to his word and his boundless grace. Christ died for us because we in turn can forgive and reconcile one another. In this way, as individuals and as families, we learn to understand the truth of those words of Saint Paul: while everything passes, "love will never end" (1 Cor 13: 8).
Thank you Nisha and Ted for your testimonies from India, where you are teaching your children to be a true family. You have also helped us understand that social media is not necessarily a problem for families, but can help build a "network" of friendships, solidarity and mutual support. Families can connect through the internet and benefit from it. Social media can be beneficial if used sparingly and moderately. For example, you, who participate in this World Meeting of Families, form a spiritual "network", a plot of friendship; and social media can help you maintain this link and extend it to other families in many parts of the world. It is important, however, that these means never become a threat to the true network of flesh and blood relations, imprisoning us in a virtual reality and isolating us from concrete relationships that stimulate us to give our best in communion with others. Perhaps the story of Ted and Nisha can help all families to question the need to reduce the time they spend on these technological means, and spend more quality time with each other and with God. But when you use social media too much, you "go into orbit". When at the table, instead of talking to the family, everyone has a cell phone and connects outside, it is "in orbit". But this is dangerous. Because? Because it takes you from the concrete of the family and leads you to a "gassy" life, without consistency. Beware of this. Remember the story of Ted and Nisha, who teach us how to use social media well.
We have heard from Enass and Sarmaad how love and faith in the family can be sources of strength and peace even in the midst of violence and destruction, caused by war and persecution. Their history brings us back to the tragic situations that many families suffer every day, forced to abandon their homes in search of security and peace. But Enass and Sarmaad have also shown us how, starting from the family and thanks to the solidarity shown by many other families, life can be rebuilt and hope can be reborn. We saw this support in the video of Rammy and his brother Meelad, in which Rammy expressed deep gratitude for the encouragement and for the help that their family received from many other Christian families around the world, who made them possible to return to their villages. In every society, families generate peace, because they teach love, acceptance, forgiveness, the best antidotes against hatred, prejudice and revenge that poison the lives of people and communities.
As a good Irish priest taught, "the family that prays together stays together", and radiates peace. Such a family can be a special support for other families who do not live in peace. After the death of Father Ganni, Enass, Sarmaad and their families chose forgiveness and reconciliation rather than hatred and resentment. They saw, in the light of the Cross, that evil can only be opposed with good and hatred can only be overcome with forgiveness. Almost unbelievably, they have been able to find peace in the love of Christ, a love that makes all things new. And tonight they share this peace with us. They prayed. Prayer, pray together. While listening to the choir, I saw a mother there teaching her son to make the sign of the cross. I ask you: do you teach children to make the sign of the cross? Yes or no? [Yes] Or do you teach to do something like this [makes a quick gesture], that you do not understand what it is? It is very important that children from small children learn to do well the sign of the cross: it is the first Creed that they learn, the Creed in the Father, in the Son and in the Holy Spirit. This evening, before going to bed, you parents ask: do I teach my children to make the sign of the cross well? Think about it, it's your thing!
The love of Christ that renews everything is what makes marriage possible and a conjugal love marked by fidelity, indissolubility, unity and openness to life. This is what is seen in the fourth chapter of Amoris laetitia. We have seen this love in Mary and Damian and in their family with ten children. I ask you [to Mary and Damian]: do they make you angry, children? Eh, life is like that! But it's nice to have ten children. Thank you. Thank you for your words and for your testimony of love and faith! You have experienced the capacity of God's love to completely transform your life and to bless you with the joy of a beautiful family. You have told us that the key to your family life is sincerity. We understand from your story how important it is to continue to go to that source of truth and love that can transform our lives. Who is it? Jesus, who inaugurated his public ministry at a wedding party. There, at Cana, he changed the water into a new and good wine that allowed to proceed magnificently with the joyful celebration. But, you thought, what would have happened if Jesus had not done this? Have you thought how bad it is to end a wedding party with water only? It's ugly! Our Lady understood and said to the Son: "They have no wine". And Jesus understood that the party would end badly only with water. Thus it is with conjugal love. The new wine begins to ferment during the time of engagement, necessary but fleeting, and matures along the married life in a mutual gift of self, which makes spouses capable of becoming, as two, "one flesh". And also to open hearts to those in need of love, especially to those who are alone, abandoned, weak and, as vulnerable, often shelved from the culture of waste. This culture that we live today, that discards everything: discards everything that is not needed, discards the children because they annoy, discard the old because they do not serve ... Only love saves us from this culture of waste.
Families are everywhere called to continue to grow and move forward, despite difficulties and limitations, just as the past generations have done. We are all part of a large chain of families, which dates back to the beginning of time. Our families are living treasures of memory, with children who in turn become parents and then grandparents. From them we receive identity, values and faith. We have seen him in Aldo and Marissa, married for more than fifty years. Their marriage is a monument to love and fidelity! Their grandchildren keep them young; their home is full of joy, happiness and dancing. It was nice to see Grandma teach her granddaughters dancing! Their mutual love is a gift from God, a gift that they are transmitting with joy to their children and grandchildren.
A society - listen to this! - a company that does not value grandparents is a society without a future. A Church that does not care about the alliance between generations will end up lacking what really matters, love. Our grandparents teach us the meaning of conjugal and parental love. They themselves grew up in a family and experienced the affection of sons and daughters, brothers and sisters. This is why they constitute a treasure of experience, a treasure trove of wisdom for the new generations. It is a big mistake not to ask the elderly about their experiences or to think that talking to them is a waste of time. In this regard, I would like to thank Missy for her testimony. She told us that, among the nomads, the family has always been a source of strength and solidarity. His testimony reminds us that in the house of God there is a place at the table for everyone. No one must be excluded; our love and our attention must extend to everyone.
It's late and you're tired! Me too! But let me tell you one last thing. You, families, are the hope of the Church and of the world! God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, created humanity in his image and likeness to make her share in his love, to be a family of families and to enjoy that peace that only he can give. With your testimony to the Gospel, you can help God realize his dream. You can help bring all the children of God closer together, because they grow in unity and learn what it means for the whole world to live in peace like a big family. For this reason, I wanted to give each of you a copy of Amoris laetitia, prepared in the two Synods on the family and written to be a sort of guide for living the Gospel of the family with joy. May our Mother, Queen of the family and of peace, support all of you in the journey of life, love and happiness!
And now, at the end of our evening, we will recite the prayer of this Meeting of Families. Together we recite the official prayer of the Meeting of Families: [great applause]
God, our Father, ...
Prayer and Blessing (in English)
Goodnight, sleep well! And see you tomorrow!
Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation of Italian
Source: Vatican.va - Unofficial Translation of Italian