Pope Francis during his Apostolic Journey to the United States of America this week had this to say on the importance of family and how it is being threatened:
How essential the family has been to the building of this country! And how worthy it remains of our support and encouragement! Yet I cannot hide my concern for the family, which is threatened, perhaps as never before, from within and without. Fundamental relationships are being called into question, as is the very basis of marriage and the family. I can only reiterate the importance and, above all, the richness and the beauty of family life. (Visit to Congress of the United States of America, 9/24/15)
For centuries, the family has been called Ecclesia Domestica or the “domestic church.” But it was Pope Saint John Paul II who brought new insight and application to the Biblical vision of the family when he wrote Familiaris Consortio. Man is created in the image of the God, who is love. God has called man to love.
God is love (1 Jn 4:8) and in Himself He lives a mystery of personal loving communion. Creating the human race in His own image and continually keeping it in being, God inscribed in the humanity of man and woman the vocation, and thus the capacity and responsibility, of love and communion (Gaudium et Spes, 12). Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being. (Familiaris Consortio, 11)
Since every human person is called to the mission to love, this is also the mission of the family:
Family has the mission to guard, reveal and communicate love, and this is a reflection of and a real sharing in God’s love for humanity and the love of Christ the Lord for the Church His bride. (Familiaris Consortio, 17)
John Paul II explains that the very identity and mission of the family is founded in the plan of God as Creator and Redeemer:
The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do. The role that God calls the family to perform in history derives from what the family is; its role represents the dynamic and existential development of what it is. Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored, and that specifies both its dignity and its responsibility: family, become what you are. (Familiaris Consortio, 17)
Family will only find fulfilment to the degree that it becomes more of what God has created it to be.
And since in God’s plan it has been established as an “intimate community of life and love,” the family has the mission to become more and more what it is, that is to say, a community of life and love, in an effort that will find fulfillment, as will everything created and redeemed, in the Kingdom of God. (Familiaris Consortio, 17)
This week at the World Meeting of Families held in Philadelphia, Cardinal O’Malley of Boston reiterated what the Church has long taught about the mission of the family.
Yes, the fundamental decision of our life is to love God, who first loved us, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. In God’s plan, the family is to be a school of love, where we learn to make a gift of ourselves to the Lord and to others, like Jesus’ sacrificial love on the cross, which is the source of our life as disciples. The decision to love is born out of an encounter with the living God, whose love is fundamental for our lives and raises important questions about who God is and who we are. (Cardinal O’Malley’s Keynote to the World Meeting of Families, 9/25/15)
Family, become what you are, a school of love, making a sincere gift of self to God and to others!
All of the love that God has in Himself, all of the beauty that God has in Himself, all of the truth that God has in Himself, He gives to the family. (Pope Francis, Evening Address at the Festival of Families, World Meeting of Families, Philadelphia, 9/26/15)