PRAYER VIGIL IN PREPARATION FOR THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY
ADDRESS OF POPE FRANCIS
St. Peter’s Square
Feast Day of St Francis of Assisi, Saturday, Oct. 4, 2014
Dear families, good evening!
Now falls the evening on our assembly. It is the time when you willingly return home to find themselves at the same table, in the depth of affection, the good done and received, meetings that warm the heart and make it grow, the good wine which anticipates in the days of mankind the celebration without sunset.
It is also the burdened for whoever who now finds himself face to face with his own loneliness, in the bitter twilight of broken dreams and projects: how many people drag their days in the blind alley of resignation, abandonment, if not resentment; in how many houses the wine of joy has failed and, therefore, the flavour – the same wisdom – of life … Of the one and the other tonight we lift our voice with our prayer, a prayer for everyone.
It is significant that – even in the individualistic culture that distorts and makes ephemeral the ties that bind us – in each born of a woman remain alive an essential need of stability, an open door, someone with which to develop and share the story of the life ,of a story of belonging. The communion of life taken by the couple, their openness to the gift of life, mutual caring, the meeting and the memory of the generations, educational support, the transmission of the Christian faith to their children …: with all this, the family continues to be a school of humanity without equal, an indispensable contribution to a just and “solidarity” society (cf. Evangelii gaudium , 66-68). And the more its roots are deep, the more in life you can go forth and go far, without getting lost or feeling foreigners in any land. This horizon helps us to grasp the importance of the Synodal Assembly which opens tomorrow.
Already the gathering as one around the Bishop of Rome is an event of grace, in which episcopal collegiality is manifested in a journey of spiritual and pastoral discernment. To search for what is the Lord asks His Church today, we need to lend our ear to the heartbeats of this time and feel the ” smell ‘the people of today, to be impregnated their joys and hopes, their sorrows and anxieties (see Gaudium et Spes , 1). At that point we will know how to propose with credibility with the good news about the family.
We know, in fact, as in the Gospel there is a strength and tenderness able to overcome whatever creates misery and violence. Yes, in the Gospel is the salvation that fills the deepest needs of man! Of this salvation – the work of God’s mercy and His grace – as a Church we are a sign and instrument, the live and effective sacrament (cf. Evangelii gaudium , 112). If this were not so, our building would be only a house of cards and the shepherds would be reduced to a clerical bureaucracy, on whose lips the people would search in vain for the freshness and the “scent of the Gospel” ( Ibid. , 39).
Thus there emerge, in this frame, the contents of our prayer. From the Holy Spirit, for the Synod Fathers we ask, first of all, the gift of ‘ listening : listening to God, to hear with Him with the cry of the people; listening to the people, so as to breathe the will to which God calls us.
In addition to listening, we invoke a willingness to a sincere encounter, open and fraternal, that leads us to undertake the pastoral responsibility of those questions that this change of era brings. Let us allow it flow back into our hearts, without ever losing the peace, but with the serene hope that in his own time the Lord will not fail to bring unity. The history of the Church – as we know – does it not perhaps tell us of many similar situations, that our fathers were able to overcome with dogged patience and creativity?
The secret lies in one way of seeing : and it is the third gift we implore with our prayers. Because, if you really want to check our step on the ground of contemporary challenges, the decisive condition is to keep our eyes fixed on Jesus Christ, stand in contemplation and adoration of his face. If we assume his way of thinking, living and relating, we will not struggle to translate the work of the synod in directions and paths for the pastoral care of the person and the family. In fact, every time we go back to the source of Christian experience, there open new avenues and unimagined possibilities. This is what lets us take in the direction in the Gospel: “Whatever he tells you, do it” ( Jn 2,5). These are words that contain the spiritual testament of Mary, “a friend who is always attentive that the wine in our lives does not run out” (Evangelii gaudium , 286). Let’s do this ourselves!
At that point, the three things: our listening and our encounter on the family loved with the eyes of Christ: these become a providential opportunity with which to renew – following the example of Saint Francis – the Church and society. With the joy of the Gospel will find again the pace of a Church which is reconciled and merciful, poor and friend of the poor; a Church able to “overcome with patience and love the trials and difficulties that come from both within and without” (Conc. Ecumenical Council. Vat. II, Dogmatic Constitution. on the Church Lumen Gentium , 8).
May the Wind of Pentecost breathe on the work of the Synod, on the Church, on the whole of humanity. May it untie the knots that prevent people from encountering one another, may it heal the wounds that bleed, so as to rekindle hope; there are many people without hope! May it grant us the creative charity which enables us to love as Jesus loved. And our proclamation will regain the vitality and dynamism of the first missionaries of the Gospel.
PRAYER VIGIL IN PREPARATION FOR THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY