By Maria Covarrubias
With great anticipation, we are preparing to participate in the 8th World Meeting of Families (WMOF) to be held in Philadelphia from September 22-27.
This is a gathering of Catholic families from around the world for days of prayer, catechesis and celebration of the gift of family. This event provides an opportunity for the entire Church, and particularly the Church of the United States, to reflect upon the great gift of family.
In preparation for the 2015 WMOF, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia and the Pontifical Council for the Family have made available a preparatory catechesis entitled “Love is Our Mission: The Family Fully Alive.” The preparatory catechesis affirms and supports what the Catholic Church traditionally teaches about the family. This catechesis forms the basis for all events at the WMOF: talks, youth games, and other activities. All Catholics are encouraged to study this catechesis and join the universal Church in prayer for God’s blessing on the event.
The preparatory catechesis for the 2015 WMOF includes the following ten topics:
1 Created for Joy
God exists. He is good and loves us. He made us in His image. He takes an active hand in our lives. He sent his only Son to restore our dignity and lead us home to him.
2 The Mission of Love
God works through us. We are in the world for a purpose — to receive God’s love and to show God’s love to others. God seeks to heal a broken universe. We are called to be witnesses and helpers in that work.
3 The Meaning of Human Sexuality
Creation is sacred including our bodies. It has sacramental meaning and reflects God’s glory. Our sexuality has the power to procreate, and shares in the dignity of being created in the image of God.
4 Two Become One
We are made for relationships. Human beings need and complete each other. Friendship and community satisfy that longing with bonds of common interest and love. Marriage is a uniquely intimate form of friendship that calls a man and a woman to love each other in the manner of God’s covenant. Marriage is a Sacrament.
5 Creating the Future
Marriage is meant to be fertile and welcome new life. Children shape the future. Children reared with love and guidance are the foundation for a loving future. Families are the bedrock for all larger communities. Families are domestic churches, places where parents help children discover that God loves them and has a plan for each child’s life.
6 All Love Bears Fruit
Not everyone is called to marriage. But every life is meant to be fertile. Every life has the power and the need to nurture new life — if not through bearing and raising children, then through other vital forms of self-giving, building and service.
7 Light in a Dark World
The family is a school of love, justice, compassion, forgiveness, mutual respect, patience and humility in the midst of a world darkened by selfishness and conflict.
8 A Home for the Wounded Heart
Many people today face painful situations resulting from poverty, disability, illness and addictions, unemployment, and the loneliness of advanced age. But divorce and same-sex attraction impact the life of the family in different but powerful ways. Christian families and networks of families should be sources of mercy, safety, friendship and support for those struggling with these issues.
9 Mother, Teacher, Family: The Nature and Role of the Church
The Church has institutional forms because she must work in the world. But that does not exhaust her essence. In the words of Saint John XXIII, she is our mother and teacher, our comforter and guide, our family of faith. Even when her people and leaders sin, we still need the Church’s wisdom, Sacraments, support and proclamation of the truth, because she is the body of Jesus, himself, in the world.
10 Choosing Life
God made us for a reason. His love is our life mission. If we choose to embrace this mission, we will have a new perspective on many issues, not just the family. Our mission of love will require courage and fortitude. Jesus is calling, and we can respond, choosing lives of faith, hope, charity, joy, service and mission.
Truly, it is a time when the Church wants to support families and help families in their indispensable mission. Let us join together in prayer that God would be help, strength, healing and hope to families in our country and around the world. God bless you and your family!
For more information visit www.WorldMeeting2015.org
Maria G. Covarrubias is Director of the Office of Catechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.