St John Paul II, and the Synod on the Family.
On Thursday last week we celebrated the memoria of Pope St John Paul II. I think it is no coincidence that the two saints who were canonised last Sunday were a married couple; the first couple in fact to be canonised together, St Louis and Zelie Martin. And it was of course St John Paul II who made a certain Jorge Bergoglio a Cardinal in 2001.
St John Paul II throughout his life had much contact with married people. Firstly in his ministry in Krakow diocese, at the university of Lublin as a lecturer and professor, and later on as Bishop and Archbishop of Krakow. He wrote a book called ‘Love and Responsibility’ based on his pastoral experience with married couples and families. He also left a vast body of teaching on this called the Theology of the Body, which is about the beauty of love and human sexuality.
The family is essential as he said in Familiaris Consortio, ‘The future of humanity passes by the way of the family’ (FC, 86). If there are no families now, there cannot be new families in the years ahead.
Pope St John Paul II acknowledged that not everyone is fortunate enough to have a natural family to support them and this is where the Church ‘family’ can help. He had lost both his parents whilst still a young man. ‘No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who “labor and are heavy laden” (FC, 85)
Here is a prayer at the end of Familiaris Consortio:
‘May Christ the Lord, the Universal King, the King of Families, be present in every Christian home as He was at Cana, bestowing light, joy, solemnity and strength…I beg of him that every family may generously make its own contribution to the coming of His Kingdom in the world-a kingdom of truth and life, a kingdom of holiness and grace, a kingdom of justice, love and peace.’ (FC 86)
Here is an address that Pope Francis gave earlier this week on the family (21st October) There is no greater “school” to teach us such fidelity than marriage and the family, which are, in God’s plan, a blessing for our world. Saint Paul tells us that the love which grounds the family points to the bond of love between Christ and the Church. In these days of the Synod on the Family, let us pray that the church will uphold and strengthen the promise of the family, with creativity and with unfailing trust in that faithful love by which the Lord fulfils his every promise.
Let us ask for the intercession of St John Paul II for Pope Francis and the bishops in the closing hours of the Synod and for ourselves and our families. St John Paul II…pray for us.