April 29, 2015

Vatican Information Service Bulletin

The following, in it's entirety, is a copyrighted transcript of the Vatican Information Service

Summary

- General audience: the dignity of marriage

- The Pope sends a video message to guests at the Caritas centres

General audience: the dignity of marriage

Vatican City, 29 April 2015 (VIS) – Following last Wednesday's catechesis on God's original plan for man and woman as a couple, the Pope spoke at today's general audience about marriage, recalling that Jesus' first miracle took place during the wedding at Cana, when He transformed water into wine and thus ensured that the celebrations could take place. “This fact reminds us of Genesis, when God completed His creation with his masterpiece: man and woman”, he said. “And Jesus began His miracles with this masterpiece, in marriage. … Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: the man and the woman who love each other. ... Since that time, many things have changed but that 'sign' of Christ contains a message that remains valid”.

“Nowadays it does not seem easy to describe marriage as a celebration that is renewed over time, in the different seasons in the entire life of spouses. It is a fact that fewer people marry. Instead, in many countries the number of separations is increasing, while the number of children is in decline. The difficulty of staying together – both as a couple and as a family – leads to bonds being broken with increasing frequency and rapidity. … In effect, many young people are led to give up the plan of an irrevocable bond and a lasting family. There is a kind of culture of the provisional: everything is temporary, and it seems that nothing is permanent”.

For this reason, the Pope continued, one of the questions we must face nowadays is why young people do not choose to get married, and seem to have little confidence in marriage and in the family. “The difficulties are not only of an economic nature, although these are very important”, he observed. “Many people believe that the change that has taken place in recent decades was set in motion by the emancipation of women. But this argument is not valid either. It is an insult, a form of misogyny that seeks to subjugate women. If men behave in this way, we are like Adam, when God asked him who had eaten the fruit of the tree, and he said that the woman gave it to him”.

“In reality, almost all men and women would prefer emotional security in the form of a solid marriage and a happy family … but, for fear of failure, many do not even want to think about it. … Perhaps it is precisely that fear of failure that is the greatest obstacle to receiving the word of Christ, Who promises His grace to the matrimonial union and to the family”. However, “marriage consecrated by God preserves that bond between man and woman that God has blessed ever since the creation of the world; and it is a source of peace and good for all married and family life. For example, in the early times of Christianity, this great dignity of the bond between man and woman defeated an abuse considered to be entirely normal in those times, that is, the right of husbands to repudiate their wives, even for the most specious and humiliating reasons. The Gospel, the Gospel that announces this sacrament, ended this culture of habitual repudiation”.

“The Christian seed of radical equality between spouses must bear new fruit today”, emphasised the Holy Father. “The witness of the social dignity of marriage will become persuasive, the witness of reciprocity between husband and wife, of complementarity. .. And as Christians we must become more demanding in this respect. For example, in decisively supporting equal pay for equal work: inequality is a scandal. Why is it taken for granted that women should earn less than men? No! They have the same rights. At the same time, the maternity of women and the paternity of men should be recognised as a richness that remains valid, especially for the benefit of children. Equally, the virtue of hospitality in Christian families today retains a crucial importance, especially in situations of poverty, degradation and domestic violence”.

“Do not be afraid of inviting Jesus to the wedding celebrations! And also His Mother Mary!” exclaimed Pope Francis. “Christians, when they marry 'in the Lord', are transformed into an effective sign of God's love. Christians do not marry only for themselves: they marry in the Lord in favour of all the community, of society as a whole”.

The Pope sends a video message to guests at the Caritas centres

Vatican City, 29 April 2015 (VIS) – Yesterday evening in the Brancaccio theatre, Rome, the guests of the Caritas reception centre were the protagonists of the play “Se non fosse per te” (“If it were not for you”), directed by Carlo Del Giudice, which narrates their life stories. It recounts stories of love, disappointment and abandonment, but also of mutual love for children, parents, life and God. It offers a unique opportunity for dialogue between Rome and her most vulnerable citizens, in which Pope Francis wished to participate by sending a video message to the actors.

“The way in which you speak to the city offers a meaningful opportunity for dialogue and exchange. Between you, on the stage, displaying your hidden talents, assisted by expert professionals who have guided you as actors to enable your resources and potential to flourish – and those who are listen, surely amazed by the richness you offer. Whoever thought that a homeless person could be someone we can learn from? Whoever thought they could be a saint? Instead, this evening you transmit to us from the stage valuable teachings on love, on the needs of others, on solidarity, and on how to find, amid difficulties, the love of the Father”.

“Poverty is the great teaching that Jesus gave to us when he descended into the waters of the Jordan to be baptised by John the Baptist. He did not do so out of a need for penance, for conversion; He did so in order to be among the people, people in need of forgiveness, in the midst of us, sinners, in order to bear the burden of our sins. And this is the path He chose so as to console us, save us, liberate us from our misery. That which gives us true freedom, true salvation and true happiness is His love of compassion, tenderness and sharing. The Good Samaritan who lifts us up, beaten by robbers”.

“St. Gregory of Nyssa, a great theologian of antiquity, writes: 'Consider well who are the poor in the Gospel and discover their dignity; they wear the face of the Lord. In His mercy He has given them His own face'. And St. Augustine said, 'On earth Christ is hungry in the poor. You must fear Christ in heaven and recognise Him on earth; on earth He is poor, in heaven He is rich'”.

“I too wish to make these words my own. You are not a burden to us. You are the wealth without which our attempts to discover the face of the Lord are in vain. A few days after my election, I received from you a letter of well wishes and offers of prayer. I remember replying immediately, to tell you that I hold you in my heart and am at your disposal. I confirm those words. On that occasion I asked you to pray for me. I reiterate my request, as I am truly in need of your prayers”.

The Pope went on to thank all the workers of Caritas Rome. “I think of them as my hands, the hands of the bishop, in touching the Body of Christ. I also thank the many volunteers from the parishes of Rome and other parts of Italy. In this way they discover a world that requires attention and solidarity; men and women who seek affection, relationships, dignity, and with whom we can experience charity by learning to welcome, listen and give of ourselves”.

The Pope remarked that the city of Rome has in all times been distinguished by persons filled with God's love. “Let us think of St. Lawrence (his jewels were the poor) and St. Pammachius (a Roman senator who converted and devoted himself exclusively to the service of the least among us), St. Fabiola (the first to build a hostel for the poor in Porto), St. Philip Neri, Blessed Angelo Paoli, St. Joseph Labre (the 'beggar saint'), and Don Luigi di Liegro, founder of Caritas Rome. How I would like Rome to shine with 'pietas' for those who suffer, with welcome for those who flee from war and death, with willingness, smiles and magnanimity for those who have lost hope. How I would like the Church of Rome always to show herself to be an ever more attentive and caring mother to the weak. We all have weaknesses, all of us; everyone has their own. How I would like the parish communities in prayer, as a poor person enters the Church, to kneel in veneration as they do when the Lord enters! How I would like the flesh of Christ to be touched in the needy of this city”.

The Pope concluded his message by expressing his hope of meeting the actors personally, as occurred recently with the homeless in the Sistine Chapel, and he bestowed on them his blessing.

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