“Society Needs You,” Pope Francis Tells Large Families

Large families benefit society by offering a “model for solidarity and sharing,”  Pope said in one of his last public meetings of 2014…

Addressing an estimated 7,000 members of the Italian National Association of Large Families at the Paul VI Audience Hall on December 28, Francis said: “In a world often marked by selfishness, the large family is a model for solidarity and sharing, and this attitude then becomes a benefit for the whole society.”

He continued: “The presence of large families is a hope for society. And for this reason, the presence of grandparents is very important: a precious presence for both practical help and above all, educational support.

“Grandparents preserve in themselves the values of a people, of a family, and help parents to transmit them to children. In the last century, in many countries of Europe, the grandparents were those who transmitted the faith: they secretly brought the child to receive baptism and transmitted the faith to them.”

The Pope also urged policy-makers to support larger families.

“I hope, therefore, thinking also of the low fertility rate that Italy has had for a long time … one per cent, almost nothing … there will be greater attention from politians and public administrators at every level to give support to these families,” Francis said, according to the website Crux.

The meeting took place on the feast of the Holy Family. In his Sunday Angelus address, the Pontiff reflected on the challenges facing families around the world, the topic of next October’s synod of bishops.

He said: “This light which comes from the Holy Family encourages us to offer human warmth in those family situations in which, for various reasons, there is a lack of peace and harmony and forgiveness. Our concrete solidarity is just as present, especially when it comes to families who are undergoing difficult situations because of illness, lack of work, discrimination and the need to emigrate.”

Pope Francis suggested New Year’s resolutions to the families and asked them to do 10 things. The list sounded remarkably like suggestions for New Year’s resolutions:

• “Take care of your spiritual life, your relationship with God, because this is the backbone of everything we do and everything we are.”

• “Take care of your family life, giving your children and loved ones not just money, but most of all your time, attention and love.”

• “Take care of your relationships with others, transforming your faith into life and your words into good works, especially on behalf of the needy.”

• “Be careful how you speak, purify your tongue of offensive words, vulgarity and worldly decadence.”

• “Heal wounds of the heart with the oil of forgiveness, forgiving those who have hurt us and medicating the wounds we have caused others.”

• “Look after your work, doing it with enthusiasm, humility, competence, passion and with a spirit that knows how to thank the Lord.”

• “Be careful of envy, lust, hatred and negative feelings that devour our interior peace and transform us into destroyed and destructive people.”

• “Watch out for anger that can lead to vengeance; for laziness that leads to existential euthanasia; for pointing the finger at others, which leads to pride; and for complaining continually, which leads to desperation.”

• “Take care of brothers and sisters who are weaker … the elderly, the sick, the hungry, the homeless and strangers, because we will be judged on this.”

A Table for Grandpa

A young Jorge Bergoglio.

A young Jorge Bergoglio.

Pope Francis once said that, as a child, he heard a story of a family with a mother, father, many children and… a grandfather. The grandfather, suffering from Parkinson’s illness, would drop food on the dining table, and smear it all over his face when he ate. His son considered it disgusting. Hence, one day he bought a small table and set it off to the side of the dining hall so the grandfather would eat, make a mess and not disturb the rest of the family.

One day, the Pope said, the grandfather’s son came home and found one of his sons playing with a piece of wood. “What are you making?” he asked his son. “A table,” the son replies. “Why?” the father asks. “It’s for you, Dad, when you get old like grandpa, I am going to give you this table.” From that day on, the grandpa was given a prominent seat at the dining table and all the help he needed in eating by his son and daughter-in-law. “This story has done me such good throughout my life,” said Pope Francis. “Grandparents are a treasure. Often old age isn’t pretty, right? There is sickness and all that, but the wisdom our grandparents have is something we must welcome as an inheritance.” A society or community that does not value, respect and care for its elderly members “doesn’t have a future because it has no memory, it’s lost its memory,” Pope Francis added.

 

“See How the Elderly Are Treated” Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth Pope Francis Angelus in St. Peter’s Square — Sunday, December 28, 2014

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning! On this first Sunday after Christmas, the Liturgy invites us to celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Indeed, every nativity scene shows us Jesus together with Our Lady and St. Joseph in the grotto of Bethlehem. God wanted to be born into a human family; he wanted to have a mother and father like us.

And today the Gospel presents the Holy Family to us on the sorrowful road of exile, seeking refuge in Egypt. Joseph, Mary and Jesus experienced the tragic fate of refugees, which is marked by fear, uncertainty and unease (cf. Mt 2:13-15; 19-23). Unfortunately, in our own time, millions of families can identify with this sad reality. Almost every day the television and papers carry news of refugees fleeing from hunger, war and other grave dangers, in search of security and a dignified life for themselves and for their families.

In distant lands, even when they find work, refugees and immigrants do not always find a true welcome, respect and appreciation for the values they bring. Their legitimate expectations collide with complex and difficult situations which at times seem insurmountable. Therefore, as we fix our gaze on the Holy Family of Nazareth as they were forced to become refugees, let us think of the tragedy of those migrants and refugees who are victims of rejection and exploitation, who are victims of human trafficking and of slave labor. But let us also think of the other “exiles”: I would call them “hidden exiles,” those exiles who can be found within their own families: the elderly, for example, who are sometimes treated as a burdensome presence. I often think that a good indicator for knowing how a family is doing is seeing how their children and elderly are treated.

Jesus wanted to belong to a family who experienced these hardships, so that no one would feel excluded from the loving closeness of God. The flight into Egypt caused by Herod’s threat shows us that God is present where man is in danger, where man is suffering, where he is fleeing, where he experiences rejection and abandonment; but God is also present where man dreams, where he hopes to return in freedom to his homeland and plans and chooses life for his family and dignity for himself and his loved ones.

Today our gaze on the Holy Family lets us also be drawn into the simplicity of the life they led in Nazareth. It is an example that does our families great good, helping them increasingly to become communities of love and reconciliation, in which tenderness, mutual help, and mutual forgiveness are experienced. Let us remember the three key words for living in peace and joy in the family: “may I,” “thank you” and “sorry.” In our family, when we are not intrusive and ask “may I,” in our family when we are not selfish and learn to say “thank you,” and when in a family one realizes he has done something wrong and knows how to say “sorry,” in that family there is peace and joy. Let us remember these three words. Can we repeat them all together: may I, thank you, sorry. (Everyone: may I, thank you, sorry!) I would also like to encourage families to become aware of the importance they have in the Church and in society. The proclamation of the Gospel, in fact, first passes through the family to reach the various spheres of daily life.

Let us fervently call upon Mary Most Holy, the Mother of Jesus and our Mother, and St. Joseph her spouse. Let us ask them to enlighten, comfort and guide every family in the world, so that they may fulfil with dignity and peace the mission which God has entrusted to them.

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

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