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BY JOSEPH PRONECHEN
As he was beatified on the feast of Divine Mercy that he instituted for the universal Church, there’s no doubt Blessed Pope John Paul II yet again reminded us of the importance of Divine Mercy.
As we immerse ourselves in Divine Mercy, we can also revisit and read again Blessed John Paul II’s stirring teachings on the family; he was a champion for the family and its irreplaceable importance. Surely Divine Providence arranged his beatification day for this message too.
In his beatification homily, Pope Benedict XVI mentioned the Holy Family: “Today is the Second Sunday of Easter, which Blessed John Paul II entitled Divine Mercy Sunday. The date was chosen for today’s celebration because, in God’s providence, my predecessor died on the vigil of this feast. Today is also the first day of May, Mary’s month, and the liturgical memorial of St. Joseph the Worker. All these elements serve to enrich our prayer; they help us in our pilgrimage through time and space …”
What rich lessons and spiritual guidance Blessed Pope John Paul II gave us in his writings on the Holy Family and how to apply those truths to build a culture of life and the civilization of love.
Among the highlights:
Shortly after his election as Holy Father, he set the overall tone with his 1980 encyclical Dives in Misericordia (On the Mercy of God); then a year later, he wrote his encyclical Laborem Exercens (On Human Work).
Less than three months later, the great family Pope published Familiaris Consortio (On the Role of the Family in the Modern World). Among many areas, he stressed the family is “the first and vital cell of society.” And he noted there are many “bonds linking the Church and the Christian family and establishing the family as
a ‘Church in miniature’ (Ecclesia Domestica).”
He noted: “I wish to invoke the protection of the Holy Family of Nazareth.”
Also: “May the Virgin Mary, who is the Mother of the Church, also be the Mother of ‘the Church of the home.’ Thanks to her motherly aid, may each Christian family really become a ‘little Church’ in which the mystery of the Church of Christ is mirrored and given new life.”
He finished: “I entrust each family to him [Christ the Lord, the Universal King, the King of Families], to Mary and to Joseph.”
Then that same decade, in 1987, Pope John Paul II with his motto of “Totus Tuus,” gave us his encyclical Redemptoris Mater (On the Blessed Virgin Mary in the Life of the Pilgrim Church, also known as Mother of the Redeemer). In 1989 he followed with his apostolic exhortation Redemptoris Custos (On the Person and Mission of St. Joseph in the Life of Christ and of the Church, also known as Guardian of the Redeemer) in 1989.
He released this exhortation reflecting on how Joseph shared in the Incarnation on a Marian feast, Aug. 15.
Then there was his “Letter to Families” in the International Year of the Family, released on Feb. 2, 1994, the feast of the Presentation. In it, Blessed Pope John Paul II again refers to families as “domestic churches,” and he prays:
“May the Holy Family, icon and model of every human family, help each individual to walk in the spirit of Nazareth. May it help each family unit to grow in understanding of its particular mission in society and the Church by hearing the word of God, by prayer and by a fraternal sharing of life. May Mary, Mother of ‘Fairest Love,’ and Joseph, Guardian of the Redeemer, accompany us all with their constant protection.”
2002 brought his apostolic letter Rosarium Virginis Mariae (On the Most Holy Rosary), when he proclaimed a Year of the Rosary for world peace and the family.
Blessed John Paul, pray for families!
Joseph Pronechen is the Register’s staff writer.