VATICAN CITY — Sharing the faith with children and others should be done in a joyful, clear and simple manner, Pope Benedict XVI said at his Wednesday general audience.
“In our time, a special place to talk about God is the family, the first school to communicate the faith to new generations,” Pope Benedict said Nov. 28 in the Vatican’s Paul VI audience hall.
He delivered his remarks, which are part of an ongoing weekly series on faith, to thousands of pilgrims who were gathered in the hall.
“The Second Vatican Council,” he noted, “speaks of parents as the first messengers of God, called to rediscover their mission, taking responsibility in educating.”
“They are called to open small minds to the love of God as a fundamental service to their lives, being the first catechists and teachers of the faith to their children,” he added.
The Pope also emphasized that “it is important to develop a critical consideration for the many influences to which children are subjected.”
When it comes to teaching the Catholic faith, Pope Benedict advised parents to always have a tone of joy. “It is important to help all members of the family to understand that the faith is not a burden, but a source of deep joy,” he said.
He also spoke about the importance of the ability to listen and dialogue.
“The family must be an environment where you learn to be together, to reconcile the conflicts in mutual dialogue,” said the Pope.
“It is done by listening and speaking to understand and love, to be a sign, the one for the other, of the mercy of God.”
Pope Benedict also touched on ways everyone can speak about God.
“Speaking of God means first of all to be clear about what we bring to men and women of our time, which isn’t an abstract God or a hypothesis, but a concrete God that exists,” he said.
He also noted that “to speak of God requires a familiarity with Jesus and the Gospel,” and one must "follow the method of God," which is humility.
“We need a recovery of simplicity, returning to the essential, the Good News of a God who is interested in us and who draws nearer to us in Jesus Christ.”
St. Paul’s Simplicity
The Pope spoke about the apostle St. Paul and said he offers a lesson on how to talk to God with great simplicity.
“Paul isn’t talking about a philosophy that he has developed … but speaks of God who came into his life, a real, living God, who spoke with him and who talks with us,” he said.
“To speak of God, we must make room in the hope that it is he who acts in our weakness. Make room without fear, with simplicity and joy, in the profound conviction that the more we put him in the middle, and not us, the more our communication will be fruitful,” he added.
Pope Benedict finished his address by saying that speaking of God means to understand that he is not a competitor of our existence, but, rather, the true guarantor of the greatness of the human person.