Vatican City, 26 October 2013 (VIS) – More than 150,000 people from 75 countries representing all five continents gathered in Rome this afternoon to meet the Pope in St. Peter's Square, following the pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter as part of the Year of Faith. The pilgrimage was entitled “Family, live the joy of faith”, and the Holy Father, who toured St. Peter's Square by open car, embracing children along the way, dedicated his address to this theme.
Francis entered the square, shaking hands with ten children carrying balloons; before his address he listened to several people who recounted their experiences: families going through difficult times and young people who would like to marry but are unable to find work, and he asked, “How is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today? … Life is often wearisome, and many times tragically so. We have heard this recently… But what is most burdensome in life is not this: what weighs more than all of these things is a lack of love. … Without love, the burden becomes even heavier, intolerable”.
“Dear families”, he continued, “the Lord knows our struggles: he knows them. He knows the burdens we have in our lives. But the Lord also knows our great desire to find joy and rest! … Jesus wants our joy to be complete! He said this to the apostles and today he says it to us. … Take home this Word of Jesus, carry it in your hearts, share it with the family”.
Francis took his second word from the Rite of Marriage. “'I promise to be true to you, in joy and in sadness' … At that moment, the couple does not know what will happen, nor what joys and pains await them. They are setting out, like Abraham, on a journey together. And that is what marriage is! Setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands. Hand in hand, always and for the rest of your lives. And do not pay attention to this makeshift culture, which can shatter our lives. With trust in God’s faithfulness, everything can be faced responsibly and without fear. Christian spouses are not naive; they know life’s problems and temptations. But they are not afraid to be responsible before God and before society. They do not run away, they do not hide, they do not shirk the mission of forming a family and bringing children into the world”.
He added, “Christians celebrate the sacrament of marriage because they know they need it! … They need Jesus’ help to walk beside one another in trust, to accept one another each day, and daily to forgive one another. And this is important! To know how to forgive one another in families because we all make mistakes, all of us! Sometimes we do things … which harm others. It is important to have the courage to ask for forgiveness when we are at fault in the family”.
He repeated the three key words for family life: please, thank you and sorry. “We say please so as not to be forceful in family life. ... We say thank you, thank you for love! … And the last word: sorry. We all make mistakes and … harsh words are spoken but please listen to my advice: don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Peace is made each day in the family. … If love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus gives always gives us that love: he is its endless source”.
Finally, he offered as an example the scene of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, chosen by the Pontifical Council for the Family as the image to represent this event. “Like all of you, the persons depicted in this scene have a journey to make: Mary and Joseph have travelled as pilgrims to Jerusalem in obedience to the Law of the Lord; the aged Simeon and the elderly prophetess Anna have come to the Temple led by the Holy Spirit. In this scene three generations come together, the interweaving of three generations. … These two elderly persons represent faith as memory. But let me ask you: Do you listen to your grandparents? … Grandparents are like the wisdom of the family, they are the wisdom of a people. … And a people that does not listen to grandparents is one that dies! … Mary and Joseph are the family, sanctified by the presence of Jesus who is the fulfilment of all God’s promises. Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it. Therefore, today we have grandparents and children. The children learn from their grandparents, from the previous generation”.
“Dear families”, he concluded, “you, too, are a part of God’s people. Walk joyfully in the midst of this people. Remain ever close to Jesus and bring him to everyone by your witness”.