“The Church is the family of God’s children and God wants every family to be a beacon of the joy of his love in our world.”
That was the essence of the message Pope Francis delivered August 25, 2018, in Croke Stadium Park, Dublin, at the World Meeting of Families.
Calling the event a “family celebration,” the Holy Father said it is the sort of event where everyone’s presence is felt: “fathers, mothers, grandparents, grandchildren, uncles, and aunts, cousins, those who cannot come and those who live too far away.
“Today in Dublin we are gathered for a family celebration of thanksgiving to God for who we are: one family in Christ, spread throughout the world. The Church is the family of God’s children.”
The Pope reminded the overflow crowd in the vast stadium – more commonly the site of Irish Hurling and Gaelic Football – that families make up the vast majority of the People of God.
“What would the Church look like without you?” the Pope asked. “It was to help us recognize the beauty and importance of family, with its lights and shadows that I wrote my Exhortation Amoris Laetitia on the joy of love, and wanted the theme of this World Meeting of Families to be The Gospel of the Family, Joy for the World.”
Francis stressed that Christian marriage and family life must be anchored in the love of God if they are to be seen in all their beauty. Through that love, we are able to live “as one in mind and heart… even daughters-in-law and mothers-in-law!”
The Pope admitted that there is no such thing as a perfect family and there often is need to ask and grant forgiveness. It isn’t easy, but possible with God’s grace.
“The love of Christ that renews all things is what makes possible marriage and a conjugal love marked by fidelity, indissolubility, unity, and openness to life,” the Pope continued.
“Families everywhere are challenged to keep growing, to keep moving forward, even amid difficulties and limitations, just as past generations did,” he reminded listeners. “All of us are part of a great chain of families stretching back to the beginning of time. Our families are a treasury of living memory, as children become parents and grandparents in turn.”
And he concluded with a special note about grandparents:
“A society that does not value grandparents is a society that has no future. A Church that is not mindful of the covenant between generations will end up lacking the thing that really matters, which is love. Our grandparents teach us the meaning of conjugal and parental love.”