Monday, September 22, 2014

Supporting Family Life

Dear Friends,

We’ve grown accustomed to seeing photos of Pope Francis holding a child’s hand as they walk along together. That’s only one of many images of Francis that crowd our computer screens and magazines. 

People claim a kinship with Pope Francis, calling him Papa Bergoglio, at times. Last August, at a meeting of African theologians at the Hekima Institute for Peace Studies, and International Relations in Nairobi, Kenya, Papa Bergoglio and the wealth of his message to the world caused one participant to exclaim: “We have our first African Pope.” Of course, he isn’t, but then he is, for Pope Francis belongs to every continent and family. People sense it, and are grateful for this surprising  gift of God to our world.

Recently, Pope Francis presided at the marriage of 20 couples at Saint Peter’s – not necessarily couples who lived by the norms of the church for marrying in the church. Papa Bergoglio  sent a message to the world. God loves everyone and the Church is for all its members.  These marriages at Saint Peter’s were certainly a celebration in themselves, but they were also prelude to the Extraordinary Synod on the Family that will take place in October. Watch for it in the news. 
Meanwhile, we need to do our share in supporting family life.

In speaking to the world and acting on behalf of people’s growth in love with God, Papa Bergoglio is also speaking to us in our very homes, where we share life, rest, meals, good times and bad. He says to us:

Let everyone be themselves. Live and let live.
Give yourself tirelessly to others. If one gets tired, one runs the risk of being egoistic.
Walk softly. … Move with kindness and humility, calmness of life.
Be available to your kids and family. Consumerism .. has pushed people to spend less time at home and more time pursuing wealth.
Spend Sundays (or a day of rest) with family. Make the intention to set time aside for loved ones, despite the pressure of work.
Work toward empowering young people.
Care for the environment.
Move on. Find ways to more quickly move forward after negative experiences. Forgiveness is key for this, as is having the willingness to let the next moment be better than the last.
Respect others’ opinions.

These are all so simple to say, but require daily motivation to do. You and I together can help shape the world in harmony with Pope Francis and committed people in our day if we join him in these challenges.

~Sister Joan Sobala