Twenty First Sunday In Ordinary Time

August 22, 2015 Column Father De Celles

Many try to portray Pope Francis as changing the Church’s traditional teaching on marriage and family. Nothing could be further from the truth. For example, read this very beautiful defense of marriage His Holiness delivered in June.
Oremus pro invicem. Fr. De Celles

Pope Francis, Address to the Ecclesial Congress of the Diocese of Rome, June 14, 2015
As you know, for some years we have been reflecting on and asking ourselves how to transmit the faith to the new generations of the city that, even after some well noted events, is in need of a true and proper moral and spiritual rebirth. ….And this commitment is all the more important when we speak of the education of kids and young people, who begin to hear these strange ideas, these ideological colonizations that poison the soul and the family: one must act against this. Two weeks ago a person, a very Catholic, good, young man said to me that his kids were in first and second grade and that in the evening he and his wife so often had to “re-catechize” the children, the kids because of what they reported about some of the teachers in the school or because of what the books said that were given there — these ideological colonizations, that do so much harm and destroy a society, a country, a family. Therefore we are in need of a true and proper moral and spiritual rebirth.
…This evening I would like to reflect with you on some simple words that express the mystery of your being parents.
The first word is vocation. Saint Paul wrote that all paternity stems from God (cf. Ephesians 3:15) and we can add all maternity. We are all children, but to become a father and mother is a call from God! It…is a vocation. God is eternal love, who gives himself incessantly and calls us into existence. However, it is a mystery that Providence wills to entrust in particular to man and woman, called to love one another totally and without reservations, cooperating with God in this life and transmitting life to their children. The Lord has chosen you to love one another and transmit life. These two things are the vocation of parents. This is a most beautiful call because it makes us be, in an altogether special way, in the image and likeness of God. To become a father and a mother truly means to be completely fulfilled, because it is to become similar to God. This is not said in the newspapers, it does not appear, but it is the truth of love…
Dear parents, your children are in need of discovering, of seeing in your life that it is beautiful to love one another. Don’t ever forget that your children are always looking at you. …They look so much and when they see that father and mother love each other, the children grow in that atmosphere of love, of happiness and also of security, because they are not afraid: they know they are secure in the love of the father and of the mother….There is no greater witness for a child than to see his own parents love one another tenderly, respect one another, being kind to each other, forgiving one another; this fills children’s heart with true joy and happiness…
The second word that comes to me, the second thought on which to reflect is communion. We know that God is communion in the diversity of the Three Persons of the Most Holy Trinity. One’s being parents is founded in the diversity of being, as the Bible reminds, male and female. This is the “first” and most fundamental difference, constitutive of the human being. It is a richness. Differences are riches. There are so many people who are afraid of differences, but they are riches. And this difference is the “first” and fundamental difference, constitutive of the human being. When engaged couples come to be married, I like to say to him, after speaking of the Gospel: “But don’t forget that your vocation is to render your wife more woman!”; and I say to her: “your vocation is to render your husband more man!” And thus they love one another, but they love one another in the differences, more man and more woman. And this is the craftsmanship of marriage, of the family, every day; to make the other grow, to think of the other: the husband of the wife and the wife of the husband. This is communion.
I tell you that often couples come to Mass at Saint Martha’s who are observing their 50th, sometimes 60thwedding anniversary. …I ask the question: “Who has endured whom?” And they always answer: “But both of us.” Love leads us to this, to have patience. And in these old marriages, which are like the good wine that becomes better when it is older, one sees this daily work of man to make his wife more a woman and the wife to make her husband more a man. They are not afraid of the differences! This challenge of carrying differences forward, this challenge enriches them, matures them, makes them great and they have eyes brilliant with joy, of so many years lived thus in love — what great richness is this diversity, a diversity that becomes complementarity but also reciprocity. ..And this reciprocity and complementarity in difference is so important for the children. Children mature seeing father and mother like this; they mature their own identity in confronting the love that father and mother have, in being confronted with this difference. We men learn to recognize, through the feminine figures we meet in life, the extraordinary beauty of which woman is the bearer. And women follow a similar course, learning from masculine figures that man is different and has his way of feeling, of understanding and of living. And this communion in diversity is also very important for the education of the children, because mothers have a greater sensibility for some aspects of their life, while fathers have it for others. This educational intention is beautiful, which puts at the service of the children’s growth the different talents of the parents. It is an important quality to cultivate and to protect….
And the gift of marriage, which is so beautiful, is also a mission. A mission that is very important. You are collaborators of the Holy Spirit who whispers to you Jesus’ words! Be so also for your children! Be missionaries of your children. They will learn from your lips and from your life that to follow the Lord gives enthusiasm, the desire to spend oneself for others, it always gives hope, even in face of difficulties and sorrow, because one is never alone, but always with the Lord and with brothers. And this is important especially in the pre-adolescent age, when the search for God becomes more conscious and the questions call for well-founded answers.….
[Original Italian text translation by ZENIT]