Manila (AsiaNews) - " Our world needs good and strong families to overcome" the many threats they face today, those arising from the economic crisis, those pushing many to emigrate, " materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life". And " the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family".
was enthusiastically welcomed this afternoon in Manila to the "Mall of
Asia Arena", the sports hall, where the meeting with families took place. Enthusiastic
crowds continue to line the routes to the Pope's various events hundreds of
Songs, music and testimonies precede and accompany the Liturgy of the Word scheduled for this meeting, which ends with thousands of tiny multicolored lights held high by 20 thousand present, shining in the darkness of the great hall.
Francis, visibly moved, inspired by the Gospel passage that speaks of Joseph resting and hearing from an angel in his dream: "rest in the Lord, arise with Jesus and Mary, and be a prophetic voice" developed a series of reflections speaking off the cuff in Spanish.
"It is important to dream in the family. All mothers and fathers dream of their sons and daughters in the womb for 9 months. They dream of how they will be. It isn't possible to have a family without such dreams. When you lose this capacity to dream you lose the capacity to love, the capacity to love is lost. I recommend that at night when you examine your consciences, ask yourself if you dreamed of the future of your sons and daughters. Did you dream of your husband or wife? Did you dream today of your parents, your grandparents who carried forward the family to me? It is so important to dream and especially to dream in the family. Please don't lose the ability to dream in this way. How many solutions are found to family problems if we take time to reflect, if we think of a husband or wife, and we dream about the good qualities they have. It is very important to recall your love through the daily 'project' of your marriage. Never cease to be husband and wife".
"Resting in the
Lord. Rest is so necessary for the health of our minds and bodies, and
often so difficult to achieve due to the many demands placed on us. But
rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God's
voice and understand what he asks of us. Joseph was chosen by God to be
the foster father of Jesus and the husband of Mary. As Christians, you
too are called, like Joseph, to make a home for Jesus. You make a home
for him in your hearts, your families, your parishes and your communities. To
hear and accept God's call, to make a home for Jesus, you must be able to rest
in the Lord. You must make time each day for prayer. But you may
say to me: Holy Father, I want to pray, but there is so much work to do!
I must care for my children; I have chores in the home; I am too tired even to
sleep well. This may be true, but if we do not pray, we will not know the
most important thing of all: God's will for us. And for all our activity,
our busy-ness, without prayer we will accomplish very little. Resting in
prayer is especially important for families. It is in the family that we
first learn how to pray. And don't forget when the family prays together, it
remains together. This is important. There we come to know God, to
grow into men and women of faith, to see ourselves as members of God's greater
family, the Church. In the family we learn how to love, to forgive, to be
generous and open, not closed and selfish. We learn to move beyond our
own needs, to encounter others and share our lives with them. That is why
it is so important to pray as a family! That is why families are so
important in God's plan for the Church! That is why is it important to pray in the family".
" I would like to tell you something very personal. I like St Joseph very much. He is a strong man of silence. On my desk I have a statue of St Joseph sleeping. While sleeping he looks after the Church. Yes, he can do it! We know that. When I have a problem or a difficulty, I write on a piece of paper and I put it under his statue so he can dream about it. This means please pray to St Joseph for this problem. Next, rising with Jesus and Mary. Those precious moments of repose, of resting with the Lord in prayer, are moments we might wish to prolong. But like Saint Joseph, once we have heard God's voice, we must rise from our slumber; we must get up and act (cf. Rom 13:11). Faith does not remove us from the world, but draws us more deeply into it. Each of us, in fact, has a special role in preparing for the coming of God's kingdom in our world. Just as the gift of the Holy Family was entrusted to Saint Joseph, so the gift of the family and its place in God's plan is entrusted to us so we can carry it forward. To each one of you and us because I too am the son of a family - we deliver God's plan because it is being carried out. The angel of the Lord revealed to Joseph the dangers which threatened Jesus and Mary, forcing them to flee to Egypt and then to settle in Nazareth. So too, in our time, God calls upon us to recognize the dangers threatening our own families and to protect them from harm. We must be attentive to the new ideological colonization".
"Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It's not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer - it comes from outside and that's why I call it a colonization. Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past "No" to the period of colonization, as families we have to be very wise and strong to say "No" to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family. And to ask the intercession of St Joseph to know when to say "Yes" and when to say "No"....The pressures on family life today are many. Here in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters. The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality. The family is also threatened by growing efforts on the part of some to redefine the very institution of marriage, by relativism, by the culture of the ephemeral, by a lack of openness to life".
" I think of Blessed Paul VI in the moment of that challenge of population growth, he had the strength to defend openness to life. He knew the difficulties families experience and that's why in his encyclical (Humanae Vitae) he expressed compassion for specific cases and he taught professors to be particularly compassionate for particular cases. And he went further, he looked at the people on the earth and he saw that lack (of children) and the problem it could cause families in the future. Paul VI was courageous, a good pastor and he warned his sheep about the wolves that were approaching. And from the heavens he blesses us today.
Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats! The Philippines needs holy and loving families to protect the beauty and truth of the family in God's plan and to be a support and example for other families. Every threat to the family is a threat to society itself. The future of humanity, as Saint John Paul II often said, passes through the family (cf. Familiaris Consortio, 85). So protect your families! See in them your country's greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them! Instead, be living examples of love, forgiveness and care. Be sanctuaries of respect for life, proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death. What a gift this would be to society, if every Christian family lived fully its noble vocation! So rise with Jesus and Mary, and set out on the path the Lord traces for each of you.
Finally, the Gospel we have heard reminds us of our Christian duty to be prophetic voices in the midst of our communities. Joseph listened to the angel of the Lord and responded to God's call to care for Jesus and Mary. In this way he played his part in God's plan, and became a blessing not only for the Holy Family, but a blessing for all of humanity. With Mary, Joseph served as a model for the boy Jesus as he grew in wisdom, age and grace (cf. Lk 2:52). When families bring children into the world, train them in faith and sound values, and teach them to contribute to society, they become a blessing in our world. God's love becomes present and active by the way we love and by the good works that we do. We extend Christ's kingdom in this world. And in doing this, we prove faithful to the prophetic mission which we have received in baptism.
During this year which your bishops have set aside as the Year of the Poor, I would ask you, as families, to be especially mindful of our call to be missionary disciples of Jesus. This means being ready to go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need. I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them. You may be poor yourselves in material ways, but you have an abundance of gifts to offer when you offer Christ and the community of his Church. Do not hide your faith, do not hide Jesus, but carry him into the world and offer the witness of your family life!".