Pope's Address at Meeting With Families

“Love isn’t easy. It isn’t easy. No. But the most beautiful thing that a man and a woman can give each other is true love, for a lifetime”

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Dear brothers and sisters,
I am grateful to be here, on Chiapaneca soil. It feels good to be here on this soil, on this land; it is good to be here in this place which, with you here, has a family flavour, a home flavour. I give thanks to God for your faces and your presence; I give thanks to God because of the heart-beat of his presence in your families. I also thank you, families and friends, for giving us your witness, for opening to us the doors of your homes and your lives; you have allowed us to sit with you sharing both in the bread that nourishes you and in the sweat of your brow as you face the difficulties of every day. It is the bread representing the joys, the hopes and the hard sweat with which you confront sadness, disillusion and failings. I thank you for allowing me to enter into your families, your homes, and to sit at your tables.
Manuel, [before thanking you for your testimony, I want to [thank] your parents, the two of them kneeling in front of you holding up the paper [of your talk]. Did you see this image? The parents on their knees before the child who is sick? Let us not forget this image. Maybe every once in a while they argue. Every once in a while. What man and wife do not fight? And more when the mother-in-law gets involved, but never mind that! But they love each other and they have shown that they love each other and they are able, because of the love they have, to be on their knees before their sick child. Thank you, friends, for this testimony that you have given. Keep going. Thank you. And you Manuel,] I thank you for your witness and especially for your example. I liked the expression you used “to put your heart into it” [echarle ganas] describing the attitude you took after speaking with your parents. You began to put your heart into your life, your family, your friends; you put your heart into us gathered here. [Thank you] I believe that this is what the Holy Spirit always wants to do in our midst: to put a new heart into us, giving us reasons to keep on taking risks [as a family], dreaming and building a life that has this sense of home, of family. [Should we put our heart into it? {Crowd cheers} Thank you!] This is something which God the Father has always dreamt of and for which [God the Father] has fought for a very long time. When everything seemed lost that afternoon in the Garden of Eden, God the Father put a new heart into that young couple and told them that everything was not lost. When the people of Israel felt that they could not go on journeying through the desert, God the Father put his heart into it by giving them manna from heaven. When the fullness of time came, God the Father put his heart into it by giving humanity the eternal gift of his Son.
Similarly, all of us here have had this experience, in different moments and different ways; God the Father has put his heart into it for us. We can ask ourselves: why? Because he cannot do otherwise. [God, our Father does not know how to do anything other than love us, put his heart into things and carry us forward. He doesn’t know how to do any other thing.] He knows how to put his best into us; why? Because his name is love, his name is gift, his name is self-giving, his name is mercy. This he has shown us with complete power and clarity in Jesus, his Son, who risked everything to the end so as to once again make possible the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom that invites us to share in a new mindset, that puts into motion a dynamic power capable of opening the heavens, capable of opening our hearts, our minds, our hands and capable of challenging us with new possibilities. This is a Kingdom which has the feeling of family, the flavour of a life shared. In Jesus and with Jesus this Kingdom is possible. He is capable of changing our perspectives, attitudes, and feelings, which are often watery and dull [in the superficial wine of fiestas]. He can heal our hearts and invite us again and again, seventy times seven, to begin anew. He can make all things new.
Manuel, you asked me to pray for the many adolescents who are disillusioned and on a wrong path, [we know about this, right?] many who are deflated, tired and without aspirations. And as you yourself rightly said, this attitude often comes from a feeling of loneliness, from not having someone to talk to.
[Think of this, fathers, think of this, mothers. Do you speak with your sons and daughters? Or are you always busy, in a hurry? Do you play with your sons and daughters?] And this reminds me of the witness which Beatrice gave us. Beatrice, you said: “the struggle has always been difficult because of uncertainty and loneliness”. [How many times you felt pointed out, judged. Let’s think of all the women who have gone through what Beatrice went through] Uncertainty, insufficiency, and often not having the bare essentials, can lead to despair, can make us deeply anxious because we cannot see a way forward, especially when we have children in our care. Uncertainty is not only a threat to our stomach (which is already serious), but it can also threaten our soul, demoralizing us and taking away our energy so that we seek apparent solutions that in the end solve nothing. [And you were courageous, Beatrice. Thank you.] There is a kind of uncertainty which can be very dangerous, which can creep in surreptitiously; it is the uncertainty born of solitude and isolation. And isolation is always a bad counsellor.
Both, unknowingly, used the same expression; both showed us that very often the greatest temptation we face is to cut ourselves off, and far from putting our heart into things, this attitude of isolation ends up, like a moth, [corroding the soul] drying up our souls.
The way to overcome the uncertainty and isolation which makes us vulnerable to so many apparent solutions, [as Beatrice said,] can be found on different levels. One is through legislation which protects and guarantees the bare necessities of life so that every home and every person can develop through education and dignified employment. There is, on the other hand, what the witness of Humberto and Claudia made evident when they explained how they tried to convey to others the love of God that they experienced through service and generous giving. Laws and personal commitment make a good duo that can break the spiral of uncertainty. [And you took heart, and you pray, and you are with Jesus, and you are integrated in the life of the Church. You used a very nice expression, we receive communion through our weak brother or sister, through the ill, through the needy. Thank you. Thank you] Today we see how on different fronts the family is weakened and questioned. It is regarded as a model which has done its time, but which has no place in our societies; these, claiming to be modern, increasingly favour a model based on isolation. [And they inoculate in our societies, which are called free, democratic societies, they go inoculating ideological colonizations that destroy them and in the end we are colonies of destructive ideologies that destroy the nucleus of the family, of the family, which is the base of every healthy society.] It is true that living in family is not always easy, and can often be painful and stressful but, as I have often said referring to the Church, I prefer a wounded family that makes daily efforts to put love into play, to a [family or] society that is sick from isolationism and habitually afraid of love. I prefer a family that makes repeated efforts to begin again, to a [family or] society that is narcissistic and obsessed with luxury and comfort. [‘How many children do you have?’ ‘No, we don’t have children because, of course, we like to go on vacations, be tourists, I want to buy myself a house in the country.’ Luxury and comfort and children get left behind. And when you want to have a child, your time already passed. What damage this does, eh?]  I prefer a family with tired faces from generous giving, to faces with makeup that know nothing of tenderness and compassion.
[I prefer a man and a woman — Don Aniceto and Mrs. — with the face wrinkled by the fight of every day, who after more than 50 years still love each other. And there they are. And their son learned the lesson! He has already been married for 25 years. These are the families … When I asked them just now, who had more patience in these 50 years. Both of them, [they answered]. Because in a family, to get where they got, there must be patience, love. You have to know how to forgive. ‘But, Father, a perfect family never fights.’ That’s a lie! It’s advisable that sometimes they argue. And that a plate or two flies. It’s fine. Don’t be afraid of this. My only advice is that you don’t finish the day without making peace. Because if you finish the day at war then you wake up in a cold war, and a cold war is very dangerous in a family, because it goes undermining the relationship from below. The wrinkles of conjugal fidelity. Thank you for loving each other for more than 50 years. Thank you very much.
[And speaking of wrinkles, to change the subject a bit, I remember the testimony of a great actress, a Latin American movie actress — when she was reaching her 70s, some wrinkles began to show a bit, and so they recommended to her a little lift so that she could continue working successfully. Her response was very clear: These wrinkles required a lot of work, a lot of effort, a lot of sorrow and a full life. Not even in my wildest dreams do I want to touch them. They are the footprints of my history. And she continued being a great actress.
[In a marriage, the same thing happens. Married life has to be renewed each day. As I said before, I prefer wrinkled families, with wounds, with scars, but that continue going forward because these wounds, these scars, these wrinkles are the fruit of fidelity in a love that was not always easy. Love isn’t easy. It isn’t easy. No. But the most beautiful thing that a man and a woman can give each other is true love, for a lifetime.] I have been asked to pray for you and I want to do so now, with you. You Mexicans have something extra; you run ahead with an advantage. You have a Mother, la Guadalupana. She wanted to visit this land and this gives us the certainty of her intercession so that our dream, which we call the family, may not be lost through uncertainty or solitude. [She is a mother.] She is always ready to defend our families, [to defend] our future; she is always ready to put her heart into it by giving us her Son. For this reason, I invite you to join our hands and say together: “Hail Mary…”.
[At the end of his address, the Pope invited the people to ask for St. Joseph’s intercession] [Vatican translation with a ZENIT transcription and translation of the off-the-cuff remarks added in brackets.]

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