Last Sunday marked the beginning of the long anticipated Synod on the Family in Rome. Two years of preparation have led up to this gathering of the world’s bishops to discuss the Church’s response to the many challenging realities confronting family life today. Undoubtedly the Synod Fathers will also seek to re-emphasize the beauty of marriage and family life in ways that speak to contemporary men and women. In his homily for the opening of the Synod Pope Francis returned to a theme he raised while in Philadelphia last month. He turned to the issue of “loneliness” that afflicts so many today – especially in more “advanced” societies.
“Today we experience the paradox of a globalized world filled with luxurious mansions and skyscrapers, but a lessening of the warmth of homes and families; many ambitious plans and projects, but little time to enjoy them; many sophisticated means of entertainment, but a deep and growing interior emptiness; many pleasures, but few loves; many liberties, but little freedom… The number of people who feel lonely keeps growing, as does the number of those who are caught up in selfishness, gloominess, destructive violence and slavery to pleasure and money.”
The antidote for this existential loneliness is a return to a strong and vibrant family life. “For God, marriage is not some adolescent utopia, but a dream without which his creatures will be doomed to solitude! Indeed, being afraid to accept this plan paralyzes the human heart.” The Holy Father emphasized that the Church’s mission is to proclaim God’s plan in its fullness while at the same time extending compassion and mercy to those who find themselves in difficult circumstances. This is the delicate balancing act facing the Church today: fidelity to God’s plan and mercy towards those who find this plan difficult or even impossible to live out.
As was mentioned last weekend, our parishes are undertaking a new initiative aimed at supporting and strengthening married couples. Teams of Our Lady is an international movement in the Church, recognized by the Holy See. Five to seven couples meet monthly to share a meal, talk about their highs and lows, and reflect upon Scripture and the Church’s teaching on marriage and family life. I am very grateful to Dennis and Annette Hunt who are piloting Teams of Our Lady for our parishes. Even if you missed the informational meeting last Sunday you can still become part of the movement. Just contact Dennis and Annette, or call me at the Parish Office for more information. Teams of Our Lady is a wonderful opportunity to strengthen your marriage in Christ!
As the Synod on the Family concludes, please join me in praying that the Holy Spirit will guide Pope Francis and the Synod Fathers in their work and that the Synod will bear lasting fruit for the good of marriage and family life.