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Christian families light up society, Pope tells pilgrims

Catholic World News - October 28, 2013

“Christian families are missionary families,” Pope Francis said in his homily on October 27, as he celebrated Mass in St. Peter’s Square to conclude a Pilgrimage for Families.

The Pilgrimage, organized for the Year of Faith, had drawn more than 150,000 people to St. Peter’s Square the previous day. After completing their family pilgrimages to the tomb of St. Peter, the participants gathered in the Square to hear testimony from several families, and then an address by the Pope.

Responding to several people who spoken of the difficulties that families face, the Pontiff acknowledged: “Life is often wearisome, and many times tragically so. We have heard this recently.” However, he continued, “what is most burdensome in life is not this: what weighs more than all of these things is a lack of love.”

“Dear families, the Lord knows our struggles,” the Holy Father said, repeating with emphasis: “He knows them!” He encouraged the pilgrimage families to persevere amid difficulties and to have faith in God and in each other. He warned them, “do not pay attention to this makeshift culture, which can shatter our lives.”

In his homily at the Sunday Mass, the Pope mentioned three important characteristics of families:

First, “the family prays.” Pope Francis reminded the faithful to pray in the fashion of the tax collector from the Gospel story: “humbly, before God.” For the family, he suggested, saying the Our Father together “is not something extraordinary; it’s easy.” Praying the Rosary as a family “is very beautiful and a source of great strength,” he said. The Pope added that family members should not forget to pray for each other.

Second, “the family keeps the faith,” the Pope continued. Here he stressed the missionary dimension of family life:

How do we keep our faith as a family? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure like a bank account, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness?

Finally, the Pope said, “the family experiences joy.” A family that lives by the light of Christian faith will naturally communicate that joy, he said. “That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society as a whole.”

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