Zagreb (AsiaNews) - In today's secularized and materialistic society, the presence of Christian families is "urgently needed" who, through their exemplary witness cooperate actively in evangelization. "Dear families, be courageous," " the hour of the family has arrived in the Church, which is also the hour of the missionary family”. Benedict XVI today appealed to the Christian world to witness to the value of marriage and defend life, an appeal launched from Zagreb, Croatia, where he arrived yesterday on a two day visit that ends today.
In Zagreb Hippodrome where he celebrated mass for the first National Day of the Croatian Catholic families, addressing the 300 thousand people who flocked to the big race track, Benedict XVI thanked God that today "many Christian families are now becoming increasingly aware of their missionary vocation, and arre firmly committed to witnessing to Christ the Lord. "
“Everyone knows - he noted - that the Christian family is a special sign of the presence and love of Christ and that it is called to give a specific and irreplaceable contribution to evangelization”. “The Christian family has always been the first way of transmitting the faith and still today retains great possibilities for evangelization in many areas”.
“In today’s society the presence of exemplary Christian families is more necessary and urgent than ever. Unfortunately, we are forced to acknowledge the spread of a secularization which leads to the exclusion of God from life and the increasing disintegration of the family, especially in Europe. Freedom without commitment to the truth is made into an absolute, and individual well-being through the consumption of material goods and transient experiences is cultivated as an ideal, obscuring the quality of interpersonal relations and deeper human values; love is reduced to sentimental emotion and to the gratification of instinctive impulses, without a commitment to build lasting bonds of reciprocal belonging and without openness to life. We are called to oppose such a mentality! Alongside what the Church says, the testimony and commitment of the Christian family – your concrete testimony – is very important, especially when you affirm the inviolability of human life from conception until natural death, the singular and irreplaceable value of the family founded upon matrimony and the need for legislation which supports families in the task of giving birth to children and educating them”.
“Dear families, be courageous! Do not give in to that secularized mentality which proposes living together as a preparation, or even a substitute for marriage! Show by the witness of your lives that it is possible, like Christ, to love without reserve, and do not be afraid to make a commitment to another person! Dear families, rejoice in fatherhood and motherhood! Openness to life is a sign of openness to the future, confidence in the future, just as respect for the natural moral law frees people, rather than demeaning them! The good of the family is also the good of the Church. I would like to repeat something I have said in the past: "the edification of each individual Christian family fits into the context of the larger family of the Church which supports it and carries it with her ... And the Church is reciprocally built up by the family, a ‘small domestic church’" (Address of His Holiness Benedict XVI to the Participants in the Ecclesial Diocesan Convention of Rome, 6 June 2005). Let us pray to the Lord, that families may come more and more to be small churches and that ecclesial communities may take on more and more the quality of a family!”
At the end of mass, before reciting the Angelus, the Pope entrusted to the Virgin Mary “parents, children, grandparents; the journey of husband and wife, the task of education, professional activities and home-making. We invoke her intercession that public institutions may always sustain the family, the basic cell of the social fabric”.