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Pope Francis marks festival of families

28 October, 2013 - Pope Francis on Sunday brought to a close two days of family festival in the Vatican with an open-air Mass for over a 100,000 faithful in St. Peter’s Square in Rome. The festival, dubbed World Family Day, was on the theme of living the joy of the Faith. In his homily, the Holy Father spoke of the Christian family as an institution that prays, keeps faith, and experiences joy. He exhorted families to pray together, noting, “It is a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God.” The Holy Father also called on families to a life of witness, reminding them of St. Paul who kept the faith by sharing it. “ Christian families are missionary families,” said Pope Francis, “in their everyday life, in their doing everyday things, as they bring to everything the salt and the leaven of faith!” Pope Francis also stressed upon the joy of faith as an important feature of a Christian family that cannot be contained within. He said, “The family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally.” He went on to say, “That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world, it is the leaven of society.”
After Mass, before reciting the Angelus, the Holy Father paused before an icon of the Holy Family that was placed on the steps of the Basilica, and recited a prayer composed for the occasion: “Holy Family of Nazareth,” he prayed, “reawaken in our society the awareness of the sacred and inviolable character of the family, an inestimable and irreplaceable good. Let every family be a welcoming place of goodness and peace for children and the elderly, for the sick and lonely, for the poor and needy.”
Earlier Saturday afternoon, at a rally of thousands of families with children and grandparents in St. 28 October, 2013 - Peter’s Square, Pope Francis invited all generations to come together and live the joy of faith. After listening to the stories and experiences that participants shared with him publicly, the Pope noted, “I have seen so many children, so many grandparents… I have felt the pain of families living in situations of poverty and war. I have listened to the young people who want to be married even though they face numerous difficulties. And so, let us ask ourselves: how is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today?” He picked out the assurance of Jesus in the Gospel: “Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” He noted that life can often be wearisome; work is tiring; looking for a job is exhausting.” “But what is most burdensome in life is a lack of love,” the Pope said, adding, “Without love the burden becomes even heavier.” Addressing the elderly living alone, and families who receive no help in caring for someone with special needs, the Pope said the Lord knows not only our struggles and burdens but also our great desire to find joy and rest! On the issue of marriage, the Holy Father described it as a life-long journey which requires “setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands”. He said that despite numerous difficulties spouses face, Christians must not “shirk the mission of forming a family and bringing children into the world”. Commenting on the icon of Baby Jesus being presented in the Temple, Pope Francis noted three generations coming together. The elderly persons represent faith as memory; and Mary and Joseph are the family, sanctified by the presence of the Baby Jesus who is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. Like the Holy Family of Nazareth – the Pope said - "every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it". (Source: Vatican)


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