VATICAN CITY — At the Sunday Mass held during the “Day for the Family” in Rome, Pope Francis questioned pilgrims about the harmony of their home lives.
“I would like to ask a question today. Everyone: How will you carry joy home in your heart? How’s the joy in your home? How’s the joy in your family?” he asked during his Oct. 26 homily.
“The family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world; it is the leaven of society: the joyous family!” the Pope exclaimed.
The Holy Father went on to draw out the connection between joy and faith lived in common life.
“True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey.”
“But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God — the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful and respectful towards all,” Pope Francis explained.
“Above all,” he continued, God’s love is “a patient love. Patience is a virtue of God” that “we learn in family life.”
Prayer provides strength for this kind of love, although many find it difficult to pray in a communal setting, the Pope acknowledged.
“So many people say to me, ‘How can we [pray]? … Prayer is something personal, and, besides, there is never a good time, a moment of peace.’”
“All that is true enough,” he said, “but it is also a matter of humility, of realizing that we need God!”
“And we need simplicity! Praying the Our Father together, around the table — it’s not an extraordinary thing; it is something all of you can do. And praying the Rosary together as a family is very beautiful and a source of great strength! And praying for one another!”
The Missionary Family
Pope Francis then spoke of the “missionary” nature of the family.
“How do we keep our faith? Do we keep it for ourselves, in our families, as a personal treasure, or are we able to share it by our witness, by our acceptance of others, by our openness?”
“We all know that families, especially young families, are often ‘racing’ from one place to another, with lots to do. But did you ever think that this ‘racing’ could be the race of faith? Christian families are missionary families,” he explained.
The family lives out the work of evangelization “in their everyday life, doing everyday things, preserving the family, as they bring the salt and leaven of faith to everything!”
The Holy Father ended the Mass with a special prayer for families. As he stood in front of an icon of Jesus’ own family, he prayed that the “Holy Family of Nazareth” might aid in contemplating “the beauty of communion in true love.”
“Renew in us the value of silence,” he implored. “Make our families circles of prayer and transform them into little domestic churches; renew the desire for holiness; sustain the noble efforts of work, of education, of listening, of mutual understanding and forgiveness.”
As the sun broke through the fog over St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis led the crowds in the Angelus, entrusting families to Mary’s maternal care. “Let us pray together: Mary, Queen of the family, pray for us!” he said.
Many families of both local and international pilgrims had traveled to Rome to celebrate the “Day for the Family,” held especially as a part of the Year of Faith.
Saturday’s activities included a pilgrimage to the tomb of St. Peter and a celebration event in St. Peter’s Square in the evening. Prior to Mass on Sunday morning, there was a recitation of the Rosary, and confession was available in various languages.