Monday, 27 October 2014

The family: union with God

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On Saturday, Pope Francis met with members of the Schönstatt Apostolic Movement in the Vatican and answered some of their questions. Since I haven't found the full text in English anywhere, and since the topic of most of the questions was the family, I was keen to hear Francis' words this soon after the conclusion of the Synod.

Instead of an extensive analysis, I would just like to share the following translated transcript of the introduction to his first answer, which I read as a beautiful "relatio synodi" put in Francis' own words:
“The Christian family, the family, marriage, have never been attacked as much as now. Attacked directly or attacked as a matter of fact. Maybe I am mistaken, and the historians of the Church could tell us, but the family is being beaten, is being bastardized, as if it were just a loose association, as if you could call anything a family. And then, how many wounded families there are, how many broken down marriages, how much relativism there is, as far as the understanding of the sacrament of marriage. From the sociological point of view, from the point of view of human values, and from the point of the Catholic sacrament, the Christian sacrament, there is a crisis of the family. It gets beaten up from all sides. It ends up being very wounded.

So, we have no choice but to do something. So, what can we do. Yes, we can give nice talks, declare some nice principles, this we do have to do for sure to have clear ideas. Look, these things you are proposing, they are not marriage. It is an association, but it is not marriage. Sometimes it is necessary to say things very clearly. And they must be said. But the pastoral help that is needed is body to body. Accompanying. And this means loosing time. The greatest teacher of how to lose time is Jesus. He lost time by accompanying, to help consciences mature, to heal wounds, to teach. Accompanying means to share a journey.

Evidently the sacrament of marriage has been devalued. And, unconsciously, there has been a move from the sacrament to the ritual. A reduction of sacrament to ritual. This leads to thinking about the sacrament as a social matter. Yes, with religious elements, for sure, but the strong point being the social. […] The social aspect obscures that which is most important about marriage, which is union with God.”
And this, in turn, made me think of St. John Paul II's profound words on the same subject:
“[T]he primordial model of the family is to be sought in God himself, in the Trinitarian mystery of life. […] The family itself is the great mystery of God.” (Letter to Families, 1994, §6, §19)
Very much is at stake here. Not only the family, but our relationship with God too. The God of mercy and vicinity, who invites us to share in the life of his being family.