Pope to spouses: "Make strong bets, for life - take a risk!"

Giovanni Tridente-September 4, 2018-Reading time: 5 minutes

At the 2018 World Encounter held on Irish soil, the Holy Father encouraged spouses to realize. "strong bets, for life".and called on families to be "a lighthouse that radiates the joy of his love in the world."through "small daily gestures of kindness".  The next meeting will be held in Rome in 2021.

Text - Giovanni Tridente, Rome

A congress, a festival, several appointments with the participation of Pope Francis, tens of thousands of married couples from various countries, with their children: the family and its joy for the Church and for the world have become topical again in recent weeks, thanks to the World Meeting of Families 2018 that took place in Dublin. The entire exhortation "Family, Family, Family, Family, Family" served as the thread of the event. Amoris laetitia, studied in all its aspects in common reflections, with speakers from various backgrounds, laboratories, seminars, testimonies and debates.

There was great expectation, obviously, for the words of Pope Francis, given the specificity of the country hosting the initiative, which a Pontiff visited for the first time in almost forty years (St. John Paul II had visited Galway in 1979) and still shaken by the great drama of abuse, which in recent years has strongly weakened the credibility of the Irish Church and its ministers. It is precisely for this reason that these issues have accompanied many of the Holy Father's interventions and have obviously attracted the attention of the world's media.

But at the center of the Meeting should have been, and indeed were, families. And the Pope's words were unequivocal, emphasizing in no uncertain terms the importance of the first cell of society and the beauty of witnessing to the world lasting commitments that can even help to overcome the conflicts and contradictions of our disillusioned world. He also made references to the indissolubility of marriage and against abortion.

Prophetic testimony

The first public meeting of Pope Francis, once he landed in Ireland, was with the authorities and civil society. On that occasion, he highlighted the Dublin World Meeting initiative as an important "prophetic witness" and the family as "binder of society".whose good is to be "promoted and guarded by all appropriate means.".

In the face of the social and political upheavals, the Pope recalled the need to recover "the sense of being a true family of peoples".without ever losing hope; on the contrary, by persevering with courage "in the moral imperative to be peacemakers, reconcilers and protectors of one another.". An approach that requires constant conversion and attention to the last ones, and among them the poor, but also to the poorest of the poor. "the most defenseless members of the human family, including the unborn, deprived of the right to life.".

Unique and indissoluble marriage

The Pope spoke of the fruitfulness, uniqueness and indissolubility of marriage during his dialogue with young married couples and engaged couples in St. Mary's Cathedral in Dublin, where he stressed the importance of the sacramental sign, which protects the spouses and sustains them throughout their lives. "in the reciprocal gift of self, in fidelity and in indissoluble unity.". And here is the exhortation: "Make strong bets, for life - take a chance!"because marriage "It's a risk that's worth it. For life, because love is like that.".

The Pope had just listened to the testimonies of a couple celebrating 50 years of marriage and those of two younger couples, inviting them to overcome the culture of the provisional that does not favor decisions. "for life".and recalled that "God has a dream for us and asks us to make it our own.": "Dream big! Treasure it and dream it together anew every day!".

Francis also pointed out the importance of passing on the faith to one's children, and that "the first and most important place to transmit the faith is the home", where by means of a typical "dialect"you learn the "meaning of fidelity, honesty and sacrifice.". He then went back to the importance of family prayer and the need for a "revolution of tenderness". to give life to "a more premature, gentle, faith-rich generation, for the renewal of the Church and of Irish society as a whole.".

Each one of you is Jesus Christ

"Each one of you is Jesus Christ. Thank you for the trust you give us."With these words Pope Francis addressed the families of the homeless who are staying at the reception center run by the Capuchin Fathers in the Irish capital, which he visited on the first day of his visit. "You are the Church, you are the people of God. Jesus is with you."He then added, after emphasizing the importance of the apostolic work carried out by the Franciscan religious.

A lighthouse that radiates joy in the world

"How good it is here. It is beautiful to celebrate, because it makes us more human and more Christian.". This is how the Holy Father began the colorful feast of families celebrated on the afternoon of August 25 in the Croke Park Stadiumwhere several married couples have shared their experiences in the most intense and demanding moments of their family life.

What does the Church expect from families? What God desires, Francis has said, namely, that it be "a beacon that radiates the joy of his love in the world".through the small daily gestures of goodness, characteristic of that holiness. "from next door" which he had already raised in his last exhortation Gaudete et exsultate.

Referring then to the testimonies heard, Francis recalled that forgiveness is "a special gift from God that heals our wounds and brings us closer to others and to him."while love and faith in the family can be "sources of strength and peace even in the midst of violence and destruction caused by war and persecution.". "It's beautiful to have ten children. Thank you."The Pope, moved by the testimony of Mary and Damian, added "of love and faith"capable of transforming "completely your life". At the center of the Pope's speech were also the elderly - the grandparents - and the need to always value them because "from them we received identity, values and faith".. Among other things, if this is missing "the alliance between generations will end up lacking what really matters, love.".

Bastions of faith and hope

On the esplanade of the Knock Shrine, very dear to the Irish people, Francis spoke of the importance of the Rosary, inviting them to continue this tradition and praying to the Blessed Virgin - who is Mother - that families may be "bastions of faith and goodness". in the face of a world that would like to diminish the dignity of man. At the closing Mass in Phoenix Park, however, the Pope returned to the necessity and the call of the Church as a whole "to 'go forth' to bring the words of eternal life to the peripheries of the world.".

Before taking leave of Ireland, the Pope finally met with the country's bishops at the Dominican Sisters' convent, encouraging them to "in these challenging times" to persevere in their ministry as "heralds of the Gospel and shepherds of Christ's flock." and underlining that the World Meeting just held has shown greater awareness on the part of the families "of their irreplaceable role in the transmission of the faith".. A process that the bishops are called upon to accompany, pushing towards "a culture of faith and a sense of missionary discipleship.".

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