September 30, 2014 // Uncategorized

The Gospel of the Family

“The Holy Family, the beacon of true love, is to be contemplated in every family situation so as to draw light, strength and consolation,” states the working document of the extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops. The Synod topic is “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization,” and will assemble Oct. 5-19. Above is the painting for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. Shown in the painting is St. Anne and St. Joachim with Mary, Joseph and the child Jesus.

In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis wrote: The family is experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds. In the case of the family, the weakening of these bonds is particularly serious because the family is the fundamental cell of society, where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another; it is also the place where parents pass on the faith to their children. 

In light of this cultural crisis, the Holy Father has convoked an extraordinary assembly of the Synod of Bishops to treat the topic: The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelization. The Synod Assembly will take place from October 5th to the 19th. It will be followed up by the Ordinary General Assembly of Bishops in October 2015, demonstrating Pope Francis’ deep concern for the challenges facing marriage and family throughout the world.

The Preface of the working document for the Synod affirms that “the proclamation of the Gospel of the Family is an integral part of the mission of the Church.” The Church has the duty to proclaim the truth and beauty of God’s plan for marriage and the family. It has the duty to promote the dignity of marriage and the family. The Church faces much resistance in today’s culture to its teaching on moral issues related to the family. The bishops will be looking at ways to better present the Church’s teaching and to promote its wider acceptance. They will also be looking at how the Church can better support parents and families through its pastoral care.

The Synod will also be addressing some difficult pastoral situations, including cohabitation and de facto unions. It will be devoting attention to the situation of separated and divorced persons as well as those who have divorced and remarried. The working document for the Synod states that “pastoral charity impels the Church to assist people who have suffered the breakdown of their marriage and are living with their situation relying on the grace of Christ. A more painful wound results when these people remarry and enter a state of life which does not allow them to receive Holy Communion.” The document states: “With patience and understanding, the Church must explain to these people that their not being able to celebrate the sacraments does not mean that they are excluded from the Christian life and a relationship with God.”

The Synod will also be addressing the lack of acceptance by many of the Church’s teaching on openness to life, especially in a highly secularized society. In the face of a contraceptive mentality, the working document states that “the Church needs to reflect on how to encourage a mentality which is more open to life.”

The bishops will also be discussing the challenges of the upbringing of children today, particularly their upbringing in the faith. They will be looking, for example, at the challenges faced when parents are living in irregular situations. We must be committed to transmitting the gift of faith to our children and young people.

The challenges facing the Church regarding marriage and family may seem overwhelming. I can’t think of an area where the “new evangelization” is needed more. I am grateful for the priority that Pope Francis is giving to the proclamation of the Gospel of the Family, in continuity with Popes Paul VI, John Paul II, and Benedict XVI. We must pray for “a new springtime for the family.”

It is important that, in the face of so many challenges, we not lose hope. The source of our hope is God and His love. The working document of the Synod states in its last paragraph that “the love of God shines in a particular way in the Holy Family of Nazareth, the sure point of reference and comfort for every family. The Holy Family, the beacon of true love, is to be contemplated in every family situation so as to draw light, strength and consolation.” I, therefore, invite you during the month of October to pray the following Prayer to the Holy Family written by Pope Francis:

Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

in you we contemplate

the splendor of true love,

to you we turn with trust. 


Holy Family of Nazareth,

grant that our families too

may be places of communion and prayer,

authentic schools of the Gospel

and small domestic Churches.


Holy Family of Nazareth,

may families never again

experience violence, rejection and division:

may all who have been hurt or scandalized

find ready comfort and healing. 


Holy Family of Nazareth,

may the approaching Synod of Bishops

make us once more mindful

of the sacredness and inviolability of the family,

and its beauty in God’s plan. 


Jesus, Mary and Joseph,

graciously hear our prayer.

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