MEXICO CITY, JAN. 26, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The key phase of the World Meeting of Families is just now getting under way, as families put into practice what they learned, says the superior-general of the lay Regnum Christi movement.
Legionary of Christ Father Álvaro Corcuera was one of the speakers at the World Meeting, which was held Jan. 14-18 in Mexico City.
He spoke with ZENIT about what the World Meeting of Families means for the Church and why Christians should view the future of family life with hope.
Q: How does God act during events like the World Meeting of Families? What fruits can we expect?
Father Corcuera: I am convinced that during these days, God has worked in a profound way and has sown seeds of grace in many hearts. The meeting has ended, but these seeds will grow little by little. The Pope reminded us in June, in the port of Brindisi, that the characteristic and unmistakable style of God is that he tends to bring about the greatest things in the simplest and most humble way; his work is always silent and non-spectacular, but these humble and discreet gestures, such as the beginning of the Church in Galilee, have a great renewing strength.
Christ wants to rein in the “small and decisive world that is the heart of man” — to use the Pope’s words — and in every home. This World Meeting of Families has been like a Pentecost, where we have asked the Holy Spirit to transform us. In turn, I think that he asks us, in these times that are not easy, to live like Jesus Christ, with an urgency to do good, in a state of mission, forming one heart and one soul among all, just like the first Christians.
Q: During your intervention at the theological congress of the World Meeting, you stressed faith, hope and charity as pillars of Christian life and as a challenge for Catholic families. Why?
Father Corcuera: If we Christians want to build up the family, we cannot lose sight of the essential of Christian life, which is to live faced to God. The theological virtues are the properly Christian way to relate with God, the backbone that keeps the family united and going forward, even though other things might be lacking. If faith is lacking, or hope and charity, the Christian family will not survive even in the best of external circumstances.
And the family is the spontaneous place where children learn to live [these virtues] naturally and spontaneously. They learn not as a theory but with testimony, that faith is not fulfilling some commandments out of obligation, but rather a living response to the love of God, where the gratuitousness of love is a decisive factor. That Christ is not an idea, but rather the center of our life and the answer to every problem; that the sacraments are not social events, but a true celebration of the presence of God in our lives, an encounter with him.
In the family, one learns to live the faith without falling into routine, but as something alive that is renewed and grows, that is shared without fears, that unites in love. In the family, children learn from the parents and the older siblings to speak with God, to listen to him, to follow his will, to go beyond suffering and sadness. And in the family, love is learned, which gives meaning to everything and without which, nothing would have meaning.
Forgiveness is learned, and compassion, patience, justice; one learns to pardon, to speak well, to think well, to flee from criticism and all that which could make the soul die. In seeing their parents live like this, children open themselves to the ultimate realities of life, and discover the value of time faced to eternity.
Within the family is where one understands that God is Father and that loving him is man’s greatest happiness. The family becomes, even in the midst of difficulties, a paradise on earth. And this world needs little paradises that irradiate the transforming strength of the love of God.
Q: Let’s talk about hope. With all of the statistical data and the gradual decline of the family, what can be a basis for hope in this reality?
Father Corcuera: Benedict XVI said it very clearly at the end of the meeting: “The Christian response to the challenges … consists in intensifying trust in the Lord and the vigor that springs from one’s faith, which is nourished by attentive listening to the Word of God.” And also at the end of the World Meeting of 2006 in Valencia, he insisted that if couples remain open to the Spirit and ask his help, he will not fail to communicate to them the love of God the Father manifested in Christ, helping the couple to collaborate with him to reflect him and incarnate him, and stirring up the desire for the encounter with Christ.
God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit: He is the base of our hope. The testimonies of families from all over the world, which we have shared in this meeting, are a sign that God acts when his children open ourselves to his grace, despite our limitations, weaknesses and falls. He is the example of the perfect Father, of the perfect Son, of the perfect Brother and the perfect Friend. As he is, that’s how he teaches us to be in the world. It is the Spirit that works and we collaborate with him.
It is also very important that joy is lived in the family, as an essential characteristic of the virtue of hope. An authentic joy, which is like one who already reflects the beauty of heaven in the home. And from this virtue, also in the family one learns to take advantage of time, because he becomes aware, above all before the events that are lived together, of the brevity of our life and that it is worthwhile to take each day faced to eternity, each day as the only day of our lives. It’s there also that the family participates together in the apostolate, being missionaries of Christian hope, because they go teaching with their words and their example that everything brings us to heaven, to the eternal embrace with God.
Q: What relationship is there between the family and personal happiness? Is the family irreplaceable?
Father Corcuera: We are happy when we are loved and we love. The family is the privileged place to experience this profound love, which is most similar to the love of God, because in the family, we are loved without conditions, because of who we are, not because of what we do or have; [our family] doesn’t love us because of our qualities or capacities or fail to love us because of our limitations and defects. This unconditional-ness and gratuitousness in love, though we are not always capable of loving this way, is a reflection of the love of God.
They see us as God sees us. Parents are a privileged witness of the infinite value of the life of children. They have participated in the miracle, but they know they are not the authors, that not everything has been in their hands. Thus they get a glimpse of the gift that is life, the divine that is in it. The family is the suitable and irreplaceable place, according to the plans of God, for the encounter with Christ, because it is called to be a mirror of the love of God. The family becomes a true home, like in Nazareth, where joys and sadnesses are shared, and where it can be said that the attitude is formed of being just one body, one soul and one heart.
The base of this is found in prayer, and in particular, in family prayer. How right indeed was Father Peyton, when he said that “the family that prays together stays together.” We can also say that the family is happier in the measure in which it gives and supports, like in the missionary family. In this case too we could say that the family that prays together, and that together does good by spreading the Gospel, remains even more united.
Q: What is God asking today of the Regnum Christi movement you direct so as to respond to the challenges that families face today?
Father Corcuera: Regnum Christi and the Legion of Christ only have meaning in the Church and for the Church, and God speaks to us through our pastors. Last December, Cardinal Franc Rodé, prefect of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, visited the works of Regnum Christi in Chile and Brazil. And during the conference that he gave in Santiago, he left the families of Regnum Christi with the guideline of making Christ present always and everywhere.
And he told us: “Live your spiritual and apostolic charism in plenitude, grow to arrive to more people, and form yourselves very well. The world of today needs apostles who can guide their brothers in the good and the truth.”
A few days later in Brazil, he reminded us that we should always be “joyful men and women who transmit Christ, the true joy of every human being.” This is what God asks us: to share the discovered gift.
This is something that we see simply as servants, with humility, because this gift is not a fruit of our qualities, but rather it is something received for the good of men, our brothers. If we value this gift, it is because we believe that it is a sign of the love of God and it makes us unite ourselves intimately with other groups, movements and realities in the Church, in the common mission of bringing the love of God. It makes us support and learn, so that in the end, more people come to discover the most marvelous truth of life: that God loves us.