Pope's Video Message to Family Meeting

«Collaborate Eagerly and Joyfully in the Noble Cause of the Family»

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MEXICO CITY, JAN. 22, 2009 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the text of the video message Benedict XVI sent to the 6th World Meeting of Families, which ended Sunday in Mexico City.

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Dear brothers and sisters,
Dear families,

1. To all of you gathered to celebrate the 6th World Meeting of Family under the maternal gaze of Our Lady of Guadalupe, «grace to you and peace from God (our) Father and the Lord Jesus Christ» (2 Thessalonians 1:2).

You just finished praying the holy rosary, contemplating the joyful mysteries of the Son of God made man, who was born into the family of Mary and Joseph, and grew up in Nazareth in a domestic setting among daily tasks, prayer and neighborly relationships. His family welcomed him, and protected him with love, it initiated him in the observance of religious traditions and of the laws of his people, it accompanied him to human maturity and to the mission to which he was destined. «And Jesus advanced (in) wisdom and age and favor before God and man» (Luke 2:52).

The praying of the joyful mysteries has been alternated with listening to the testimonies of Christian families representing all the continents, which are like an echo and a reflection of our time in the history of Jesus and of his family. These testimonies have shown us that the seed of the Gospel continues to germinate and give fruit in the various situations of today.

2. The theme of this 6th World Meeting of Families — «The Family as Educator in Human and Christian Values» — reminds us that the domestic sphere is a school of humanity and of Christian life for all of its members, with beneficial consequences for all people, for the Church and for society. In effect, the home is called to live and cultivate reciprocal love and truth, respect and justice, loyalty and collaboration, service and helping others, especially those most in need. The Christian home, which should «manifest to all men Christ’s living presence in the world, and the genuine nature of the Church» («Gaudium et Spes,» 48), should be full of the presence of God, putting all of the day’s events into his hands and asking for his help to adequately fulfill its essential mission.

3. For this prayer as a family at appropriate and significant times is of great importance, for as the Lord has assured: «For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them» (Matthew 18:20). And the Teacher is certainly with the family that listens and meditates on the word of God, who learns from him what is most important in life (cf. Luke 10:41-42), and puts into practice his teachings (cf. Luke 11:28). In this way, one’s personal and family life is transformed and gradually improved, dialogue is enriched, faith is transmitted, the pleasure of being together is increased, and the home becomes more united and consolidated, like a house built on rock (cf. Matthew 7:24-25). Pastors, don’t stop helping families to fully know the word of God and sacred Scripture.

4. With the strength that springs forth from prayer, the family is transformed into a community of disciples and missionaries of Christ. In it the Gospel is welcomed, transmitted and shines forth. As my venerable predecessor Pope Paul VI said, «Parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them» («Evangelii Nuntiandi,» 71).

The Christian family, living with confidence and in filial obedience to God, being faithful and generously welcoming children, caring for the weakest and being willing to forgive, becomes a living Gospel that all can read (cf. 2 Corinthians 3:2), and a sign of credibility perhaps more persuasive and capable of confronting the world today. The family must make known its testimony of life and its explicit profession of faith in the various circles that surround it, such as the school and various associations, as well as commit itself to the catechetical formation of its children, and the pastoral activities of its parochial community, in particular those related to marriage preparation or those specifically directed toward family life.

5. Living together in the home, upon demonstrating that liberty and solidarity complement one another, that the good of each one counts on the good of all, that the demands of strict justice need to be open to understanding and forgiveness in the interest of the common good, is a gift for all and a source of inspiration for social coexistence. In effect, social relationships should take as a reference point the constitutive values of authentic family life to humanize them more and more and bring them on the path toward the construction of the «civilization of love.»

Furthermore, the family is also the vital cell of society, the first and decisive resource for its development, and many times the last refuge for those for whom the established structures of society haven’t sufficiently met their needs.

For its essential social function, the identity of the family has the right to be properly recognized, and to not be confused with other forms of living together, so as to be able to count on the due cultural, legal, economic, social and medical protections. And more specifically, it should count on the freedom of education and school choice, bearing in mind the number of children and available economic resources.

It is necessary, therefore, to develop a culture and a politics of the family that is propelled in an organized manner by the families themselves. For this I encourage them to join associations that promote the identity and rights of the family, according to an anthropologically coherent vision of the Gospel. As well, I invite these associations to coordinate themselves and collaborate among each other so that their activity be more incisive.

6. In conclusion, I exhort all of you to have great confidence, for the family is in the heart of God, Creator and Savior. To work for the family is to work for the dignified and luminous future of humanity and for the construction of the Kingdom of God. Together we humbly invoke divine grace, so that he helps us to collaborate eagerly and joyfully in the noble cause of the family, called to be evangelized and to evangelize, to be humane and to humanize. In this beautiful work, the Blessed Virgin Mary accompanies us with her maternal intercession and with her heavenly protection, who today I invoke with the glorious title of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and in whose motherly hands I put all the families in the entire world.

Thank you very much.

[Translation by Karna Swanson]
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