By Mario Martinez
“Love is Our Mission, The Family Fully Alive.”
These are the words that resonate throughout the world as we prepare for the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia in September 2015.
As the year comes to an end, we rejoice in The Feast of the Holy Family, which celebrates the human family. The Holy Family is the name given to: The Divine Son of God, Jesus, his mother the Virgin Mary, and his adoptive-father, Joseph. The feast is usually celebrated on the Sunday after Christmas. This feast is an opportunity to reflect on the role and importance of marriage and family life for the Church and the world.
St. Pope John Paul II states that the family is a set of complex interpersonal relationships that are made up of married life, fatherhood and motherhood, filiation and fraternity which each other. In such a way that each person is introduced into the “human family” and into the “family of God,” which is the Church (Familiaris Consortio, No.86).
In other words, the family experience is essential for the human person to find his or her purpose and, in most cases, experience unconditional love, overcoming threats and problems. “Loving the family means being able to appreciate its values and capabilities, fostering them always” (No.86).
Recently, Pope Francis has emphasized the need to pray for the families of the world. He believes that the family plays a central role in evangelizing the new generations, and that it is necessary for the survival of mankind. He states that, “the family, whether we like it or not, is the foundation.” Christians families have the mission of proclaiming with joy and conviction the Good News about the family. The General Directory for Catechesis suggests, “The religious awakening which takes place in the household during childhood is, simply, irreplaceable. It is most powerful when parents take the time to explain to their children the religious meaning of life’s moments: including holy days, family events, and social, political or moral questions” (No.226).
In our Diocese, Bishop Gerald R. Barnes has taken the initiative to strengthen marriage and family life with the goal of “Becoming a Marriage Building Church, so that people’s lives are filled with hope…” by promoting intentional Christian marriage education. Now, as our Diocese celebrates the year of Consecrated Life and Vocations, we have a great opportunity to reflect upon marriage and family as the foundation for religious and priesthood vocations.
As we join the rest of the world, in preparation for the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, to take place September 22-27, our Diocese and parishes will be offering many opportunities for families and individuals to gather, reflect and celebrate the gift of family to the Church. These events will help renew awareness of the vocation of marriage and family life, through prayer, catechetical church teachings, and celebrations that will impact families, neighborhoods, and society, so that people lives are filled with hope.
Additionally, the diocesan offices of Catechetical Ministry and Charismatic Renewal are coordinating a pilgrimage to the World Meeting of Families Conference and the Papal Mass in Philadelphia.
More information on the Marriage Initiative and the World Meeting of Families can be found at www.SBMarriageInitiative.org.
Mario Martinez is a Marriage Initiative Special Project Coordinator for the Office of Cathechetical Ministry in the Diocese of San Bernardino.