Last year's Solemnity of St. Joseph was the starting signal for the "Amoris Laetitia" Year of the Family, which Pope Francis has called for five years after his Apostolic Exhortation "Amoris Laetitia".Amoris Laetitiaon the joy and beauty of family love. A time in which the Holy Father invited the whole Church to "a renewed and creative pastoral impulse to place the family at the center of the Church's and society's attention".
For his part, the prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and LifeCardinal Kevin J. Farrell pointed out that "it is more opportune than ever to dedicate an entire pastoral year to the Christian family, because presenting God's plan for the family to the world is a source of joy and hope; it is truly good news!
Next, there is a brief review of some models, in the case of the Holy Family, couples who have been beatified or canonized, and who can shed light on how to put into practice the Pope's orientations and indications. Subsequently, some books and initiatives in the same direction are collected. This is necessarily a synthetic outline, so new testimonies and contributions will be added in future issues.
Holy Family of Nazareth
"May St. Joseph inspire in all families the creative courage, so necessary in this change of era that we are living, and may Our Lady accompany in their marriages the gestation of the "culture of encounter", so urgent to overcome the adversities and oppositions that darken our time" (Pope Francis, Letter, 26.12.2021). "The many challenges cannot rob the joy of those who know that they are walking with the Lord. Live your vocation intensely. Do not let a sad countenance transform your faces. Your spouse needs your smile. Your children need your encouraging looks. Pastors and other families need your presence and joy: the joy that comes from the Lord!"
2. St. Joachim and St. Anne
Joachim and Anna are the names revealed by Tradition about the parents of the Virgin Mary. As parents of the Virgin Mary, they are also the grandparents of Jesus. This dignity, part of God's saving promise to the people of Israel and all mankind, is partially revealed in the names of these two saints. While Jehoiachin means 'God prepares', Ana means 'grace', 'compassion'.
3. Aquila and Priscilla, saints
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI commented that, to the gratitude for the faithfulness of those first churches mentioned by St. Paul in his Letter to the Romans, "we must also join our own, because thanks to the faith and the apostolic commitment of lay faithful, from families such as those of the Aquila and PriscillaChristianity has reached our generation. (...) In order to take root in the land, in order to develop extensively, it was necessary the commitment of these families, of these Christian communities, of lay faithful that offered the 'humus' to the growth of faith. They went to partners of St. Paul the Apostle, whom they welcomed into their home and for whose protection they exposed their own lives.
4. Saint Monica, and other fathers and mothers
"Born in Tagaste in the year 331 or 332, she occupies the first place in the gallery of saints of the Augustinian Family because she is the mother of St. Augustine. Inseparable from each other, mother and son leave in the background Patricio, father and husband, and the other two children of the couple", says agustinos.es. "She took the initiative in education, with a special emphasis on the religious aspect. Monica's pedagogy, we would say today, is that of persevering witness and accompaniment. In this way she won her husband to Jesus Christ and had a decisive influence on the conversion of her son Augustine. With immense joy she attended his baptism on Easter night in 387. She died in Ostia Tiberin, at the gates of Rome".
Also St. Gordian and St. Sylvia, fathers of St. Gregory the Great, reached the altars, and in the VII century in BelgiumSaint Vincent and Saint Valdetrudis, who were the parents of four holy children: Saint Landerico, bishop of Paris, Saint Dentellino, Saint Aldetrudis and Saint Madelberta (abbesses of the monastery of Maubeuge).
5. Saint Isidro Labrador and Saint María de la Cabeza
"The Virgin of Almudena and the Virgin of the Almudena have always been so united in the soul of the people of Madrid. saint Isidore the farmer. On the occasion of the feast of May 15, 1852, in the Official Journal of Notices of Madrid, published this brief review on the life of St. Isidore: 'Madrid, famous for many titles, is particularly so for having given birth to this illustrious and holy man. Raised in the fear of God, and having been blessed with a good soul, he was virtuous all his life, whether he is considered married to Santa Maria de la Cabeza, whether he is seen tilling the land, in fulfillment of his obligation or directing his fervent vows to the Lord and his Blessed Mother in the temples of Atocha and Santa Maria de la Almudena, all the qualities of a true servant of God will always be admired in him" (archimadrid.org).
6. St. Thomas More
"A decree of Pope Leo XIII declared Thomas More [Lord Chancellor of England, 1478-1535] blessed on December 29, 1986, 'the day consecrated to Thomas, the Archbishop of Carterbury, whose faith and constancy he so strenuously imitated.' On May 9, 1935, Pope Pius XI defined in semi-public consistory the sanctity and cult due in the future to 'the lay Thomas More'." (Sir Thomas More, Andrés Vázquez de Prada, Rialp). "There remains nothing else to do," the Pope said, but "to exhort you and all our other children in Christ to imitate his virtues and to raise your minds and spirits imploring the patronage of that martyr, for yourselves and for the universal Church."
7. Saints Célia Guerin and Luis Martín
Parents of St. Therese of Lisieux, also known as St. Therese of the Child Jesus, born in 1873 in Alençon (France) and a Discalced Carmelite. She was the fifth of 5 sisters, all of whom were religious. St. Louis Martin and St. Celia Guerin became the first marriage not martyr canonized at the same time. Therese entered the Carmelite monastery in Lisieux, France, at the age of 15 and died on September 30, 1897 at the age of 24. After their trip to Sri Lanka, Pope Francis, who canonized them in 2015, said, "When I don't know how things will go, I have the habit of asking St. Therese of the Child Jesus to carry the problem in her hands, and to send me a rose."
8. Manuel Rodrigues Moura and his wife, Blessed
Brazilian, victims of the persecution unleashed against the Catholic faith (1645). Along with them are many martyred couples in Japan and Korea.
9. Blessed Luigi Beltrame and Maria Corsini
In 2001, the Italian spouses were beatified in the same ceremony. Luis Beltrame Quattrocchi and Maria CorsiniThey married in 1905. They had two sons, who received the priesthood, and two daughters. One of her daughters married and the other became a nun. Three of his sons attended the beatification ceremony.
St. John Paul II expressed his joy because, 'for the first time two spouses have reached the goal of beatification'. They were Roman, married for fifty years and had four children. The Pope underlined that the first beatification of a married couple came just 'on the twentieth anniversary of the Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio'.
Initiatives and literary works on marriage and family values have increased in recent years, following the Apostolic Exhortation 'Amoris Laetitia' of Pope Francis, and this year established by the Pope, together with the impulse of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life, the Episcopal Conferences and the apostolic movements. By way of example, some of these can be cited.
In the first place, last year two biographies have appeared. One about Carmen Hernandez, initiator together with Kiko Arguello of the Neocatechumenal Way, who died five years ago, so that, following the canonical norms, it would be possible to request the opening of the Cause of Beatification. Carmen Hernandez was a woman "deeply in love with Christ"as described by Carlos Metola, diocesan postulator appointed by the Neocatechumenal Way, in an interview with Omnes. The biography has been managed by the Biblioteca de Autores Cristianos (BAC).
María Ascensión Romero, of the International Team of the Neocatechumenal Way, interviewed in the program 'EcclesiaThe TRECE tv program, presented by Álvaro de Juana, underlined the great contribution of Carmen Hernández to carry forward the Second Vatican Council. "She has been a great figure in the Church of the twentieth century and in its history in general," he said.
A biography of one of the first three supernumeraries of Opus Dei, Mariano Navarro Rubio, married with eleven children, who died in 2001, has also been published. There is already a biography written by Antonio Vázquez in Ediciones Palabra of the first of them, Tomás Alvira, whose Cause of Beatification has been initiated together with his wife, Paquita Dominguez.
Now an extensive biography of Mariano Navarro Rubio, Aragonese politician, author of the so-called Stabilization Plan and governor of the Bank of Spain, has been published, in which many people explain how he lived his vocation to marriage as an authentic path to sanctity, with interviews and testimonies from family and friends of the biographer's life. There are around 500 pages, with more than 80 photographs, in which appear, among others, St. Josemaría, founder of Opus Dei, Blessed Álvaro del Portillo and Bishop Javier Echevarría. The edition is published by Homo Legens.
Initiatives and other contributions
Among the publishing initiatives to help young married couples, and not so young, are those of Ediciones Palabra, which has published 'Más que juntos', by Lucía Martínez Alcalde and María Alvarez de las Asturias, in 2021.
The two authors, married with children and with different professional paths, address in a practical way the moments before and the first years after the wedding. Written in a direct and simple style, it puts 'things in their place', starting with the key: the decision to get married is based on building a non-temporary relationship together - to be a tandem.
In the meantime, from the same publisher Palabra, 'Una decisión original', with the subtitle 'Guía para casarse por la Iglesia' (Guide to getting married in the Church), by Nicolás Álvarez de las Asturias, Lucas Buch and María Álvarez de las AsturiasThe book offers keys to founding a unique family, to grow in love, and to never lose strength.
Other helpful titles include 'Christian courtship in a hypersexualized world' by T.G. Morrow (Rialp), a readable and theological guide that deals with everything from first friendship to the wedding day, love and morality during courtship, chastity and communication crises. Arguments has also recently reviewed ‘How to find your soul mate without losing your soul', by Jason Evert, which conveys the message, among others, that we should not idealize relationships: there are no perfect and easy courtships, each one has its difficulties and the important thing is to overcome them.
15 women speak
CEU Ediciones has launched this year 'Familias sin filtro', a book of photographs and family testimonies of self-improvement and motivation, based on 15 Spanish mothers, many of them entrepreneurs, who speak freely about their family and their relationship with their vocation, their work, their desires and their presence in social networks. Although no one asks them specifically about their faith, many also talk about their relationship with God and with saints they admire.
The book has the peculiarity that all proceeds from its sale go to child cancer research through the 'Vicky's Dream' Foundation, which has been working for this cause since 2017. Among the mothers are Laura García Marcos, Vicky's mother; Lara Alonso del Cid, businesswoman of the Mentidero restaurants;
Virginia Villa, mother of a large family, director of the Irene Villa Foundation for disability support; Marian Rojas Estapé, daughter of psychiatrist Enrique Rojas.
Marriage and the Christian family
That is precisely the title of a recent work by professors Augusto Sarmiento Franco y José María Pardo Sáenzpublished by Eunsa (University of Navarra). Through the family runs the history of man, the history of the salvation of humanity. Among the numerous paths that the Church proposes to save the human being, the family is the first and most important, the authors point out. In the same publishing house, Jorge Manuel Miras Puso has published 'Matrimonio y familia', and José Miguel Granados Temes, 'El evangelio del matrimonio y de la familia'.
José Miguel Granados asks: What is the essence of the Gospel of marriage and the family? The answer is simple: the good news of the human love of man and woman, in the divine design. This answer contains the appropriate anthropology in accordance with the order of the Creator (of universal value and accessible to the well-configured reason) and is brought to fullness in the mystery of the Redemption of Jesus Christ". In the book, Professor Granados Temes, a parish priest in Madrid, presents in an orderly and clear way the magisterium of St. John Paul II on the theology of the body.
Promotion of the family
Also last year, the magazine Misión, published by the Universidad Francisco de Vitoria, in Madrid, awarded its prizes to a dozen persons and entities "whose work has been outstanding in the promotion of the family, in the defense and care of human life and in evangelizing activity". The award winners were, among others, the 'Plataforma Más Plurales'; the radio broadcaster Javi Nieves; 40 Días por la Vida; the Amor Conyugal Project, whose work in "making possible a real conversion of Catholic marriages", and the Aladina Foundation, "for its close and tender accompaniment of the families of children suffering from cancer".
Another interesting book of the past year has been 'Harmony', by Alfred Sonnenfeld, published by Rialp. On this occasion, the author deals with perfectionism and imperfection, respect for the other, egocentrism and romanticism as dissolvents of an authentic couple relationship, and the correct understanding of love and sex, aimed at making it last. Through modesty, moreover, sex will retain much of its value and mystery.