Vatican City, 27 December 2015 (VIS) – After celebrating the Mass for the Feast of the Holy Family, the Holy Father appeared at the window of his study in the Apostolic Palace to pray the Angelus with the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square. Before the Marian prayer, the Pope recalled this past September''s meeting with families in Philadelphia, USA as well as all the families he has met during his apostolic trips and all the families around the world with these words:
''I would like to greet you all with affection and gratitude, especially at this present time when the family is subjected to various kinds of misunderstandings and difficulties that weaken it. Today's Gospel,'' he continued, ''invites families to capture the light of hope coming from the house of Nazareth where Jesus grew up in joyfulness.''
''The family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph is, for every believer and especially for families, a true school of the Gospel. Here we admire the fulfillment of God's plan to make the family a special community of life and love. Here we learn that every Christian family is called to be a ‘domestic church'', to make the light of the Gospel virtues shine forth and to become leaven for the good in society. The typical characteristics of the Holy Family are meditation and prayer, mutual understanding and respect, a spirit of sacrifice, labor, and solidarity.''
''Each family can draw valuable guidance for lifestyles and life choices and can draw strength and wisdom for the everyday journey from the example and witness of the Holy Family. Our Lady and St. Joseph teach us how to welcome children as a gift from God, to generate and educate them by cooperating in a wonderful way with the Creator's work; giving the world a new smile with every child. It is in the united family that children bring their existence to maturity, living a meaningful and effective experience of gratuitous love, of tenderness, of reciprocal respect, of mutual understanding, of forgiveness, and of joy.''
''The true joy experienced in the family is not something casual or accidental. It is a joy born of the profound harmony among persons, which gives us a taste of the beauty of being together, of supporting one another along the journey of life. But at the heart of that joy is always God's presence, his welcoming, merciful, and patient love toward all. If the doors of the family are not opened to the presence of God and his love, the family loses its harmony, selfishness prevails, and joy is extinguished. Instead, the family that lives the joy of life, the joy of faith, spontaneously communicating it, is the salt of the earth and light of the world. It is the leaven for all of society.''