Vatican City, 5 October 2014 (VIS) – At 6 p.m. yesterday, Saturday, in St. Peter's Square, a prayer vigil was held for the Third Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, organised by the Presidency of the Italian Episcopal Conference. The Synod Fathers participated in the event, which alternated moments of prayer with reflection and testimonies of family life. At 7 p.m., the Holy Father joined the families and the faithful to say, “This is the time at which we willingly return home to find ourselves at the same table, surrounded by affection, the good we have done and received, the encounters that have warmed the heart or helped it grow, the good wine that offers us a glimpse in our days of the feast without end. It is also the most difficult time for those who find themselves face to face with their own solitude, in the bitter twilight of shattered dreams and unfulfilled plans: how many people pass their days in the blind alley of resignation, neglect, even rancour; in how many homes is there a lack of the good wine of joy and thus of the flavour, the very knowledge, of life. This evening let us become the voice of prayer for all; a prayer for all”.
Francis went on to speak about “the communion of life assumed by married couples, their openness to the gift of life, mutual care, the encounter and the memory of generations, educational accompaniment, the transmission of Christian faith to children … in all this, the family continues to be an unequalled school in humanity, an indispensable contribution to a just and caring society. And the deeper its roots are, the further it is possible to go in life without becoming lost or feeling like a stranger in any land. This horizon helps us to grasp the importance of the Synod Assembly that opens tomorrow”.
“To seek what the Lord asks of His Church now, we must listen to the heartbeat of our times and perceive the spirit of humanity today, remaining impressed by their joys and hopes, their sadness and anguish. At that point we will know how to propose credibly the good news on the family”. Before concluding the Pope asked the Holy Spirit to offer the Synod Fathers the gift of listening to God and His people, invoking a sincere, open and fraternal encounter enabling them to face with pastoral responsibility the questions that come with changing times, yet always looking to Jesus Christ. He added, “With the joy of the Gospel we will recover the traces of a reconciled and merciful Church, poor and a friend to the poor; a Church able, 'in patience and in love, to overcome its sorrows and its challenges, both within itself and from without'”.