Pope's Address at Meeting of Families in Manila

«What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.»

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Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s address at a Meeting with Families at the «Mall of Asia Arena» in Manila, Philippines. 

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The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm. Be attentive, be attentive with the new ideological colonization.

[In Spanish] There is an ideological colonization that we have to be careful of that tries to destroy the family. It’s not born of the dream that we have with God from prayer and from the mission that God gives us. It comes outside. And that’s why I say it’s colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take that mission forward that God has given us. And just as our peoples in a moment in their history were able to say no to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and very strong with fortitude to these initiatives of ideological colonization that could destroy the families and to ask the intercession of St. Joseph, who is a friend of the angel, to know when to say yes and when to say no.

The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. This is the ideological colonization. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life.

[In Spanish] I think of Blessed Paul VI, in a moment of that challenge of the growth of populations, he had the strength to defend openness to life. He knew the difficulties that families experienced and that’s why in his encyclical, he expressed compassion for particular cases. And he taught professors to be particularly compassionate with particular cases. But he went further. He looked to the peoples beyond. He saw the lack and the problem it could cause families in the future.

Paul VI was courageous, he was a good pastor and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching. And from the heavens, he blesses us today.

Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God’s plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf.Familiaris Consortio, 85). The future passes through the family! So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.

Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God’s call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God’s plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace (cf. Lk 2:52). When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. A family can become a blessing to the world. God’s love becomes present and active by the way of love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ’s kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.

During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them.

[In Spanish]: I was very moved by the Mass today, when I visited that that home for children who had no parents. How many people in the Church work so that that house can become a home, a family! This is what it means to take forward prophetically the mission of the family.

You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!

Dear friends in Christ, know that I pray for you always! I pray today for the families. I do it! I pray that the Lord may continue to deepen your love for him, and that this love may manifest itself in your love for one another and for the Church. Don’t forget Jesus sleeping, don’t forget Joseph sleeping. Jesus slept under the protection of Joseph. Don’t forget to sleep is the prayer. Don’t forget the prayer of the family.

Pray often and take the fruits of your prayer into the world, that all may know Jesus Christ and his merciful love. Please, sleep also for me, pray also for me, for I truly need your prayers and will depend on them always!

Thank you very much!

[Original text: English]

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