Vatican City (AsiaNews) – Pope Francis has issued a call to Christian couples to make a missionary commitment "since the image of the family – as God willed it, made up of one man and one woman in view of the good of the spouses and also of the generation and education of children – has been deformed through powerful contrary projects supported by ideological colonisations.”
The Holy Father made the call this morning, a few weeks before the Synod on the Family (4-25 October), slamming cultural movements that distort the Christian idea of the family. Speaking in the Clementine Hall in the Vatican before the participants at the world meeting of the Équipes Notre Dame, a lay movement of conjugal spirituality founded in France in 1938, he urged them to be close to “hurt families”.
"It is clear,” he said, “that a movement of conjugal spirituality such as yours is fully within the care that the Church wishes to have for families, doing so by promoting the maturation of couples that take part in your Teams, as well as through the fraternal support given to the other couples to whom they are sent."
"Christian couples and families,” he explained, “are often in better conditions to proclaim Jesus Christ to other families, and to support, fortify and encourage them. What you live as a couple and as a family, supported by your Movement’s own charism, the deep and irreplaceable joy that the Lord makes you feel in your domestic intimacy amid joys and sorrows, in the happiness of your spouse’s presence, in your children’s growth, in the human and spiritual fruitfulness that He grants you, all this must be witnessed, proclaimed and communicated outside, so that others will, in turn, place themselves on this path."
The pope went on to advise Christian couples to recite "the prayer of couples in the family”. This is a “good and necessary tradition that has always supported the faith and hope of Christians, one that has unfortunately been abandoned in so many regions of the world.”
“I am thinking also of the time of monthly dialogue between spouses – the famous and demanding ‘duty to sit down,’ which goes so against the current in relation to the habits of a frenetic and agitated world filled by individualism, a moment of exchange lived in truth under the gaze of the Lord, which is a precious time of thanksgiving, forgiveness, mutual respect and attention to the other.
In promoting missionary work, Francis urged his audience to "to commit yourselves, if it is possible, in an ever more concrete way and with ever renewed creativity, to the activities that can be organised to receive, train and support in the faith young couples in particular, before and after their marriage.”
“I also exhort you to continue to be close to hurt families, which today are so numerous, because of joblessness, poverty, health problems, mourning, concern over children, lack of balance due to estrangement, someone’s absence, or a climate of violence. We must have the courage to approach these families, in a discreet but generous way, materially, humanly or spiritually, in those circumstances in which they find themselves vulnerable.”
“Finally, I cannot but encourage the couples of the Équipes Notre Dame to be the instruments of Christ’ mercy and that of the Church towards people whose marriage has failed. Never forget that your conjugal fidelity is a gift of God, and that mercy has been given to each one of us. A united and happy couple can understand better than anyone else, from within, the hurt and suffering caused by abandonment, betrayal, and failure in love. Therefore, it is necessary for you to relay your story and experience to help Christian communities understand the concrete situations of these people, and welcome them with their wounds, as well as help them walk in faith and truth, under the gaze of Christ the Good Shepherd, so that they can take part in an appropriate way in the life of the Church. Also do not forget the unspeakable suffering of the young people who live through these painful family situations: you can give them so much.”