The World Meeting of Families 2015 was a gift to families at a time when the truth of the worth and value of the Catholic ideal of family is under siege. It was an invitation to all families to be heartened, to be strengthened, and to live the mission that is theirs. There is no one untouched by painful rifts and challenges to the traditional nuclear family. Each of us needs the solace and hope that was imparted by gathering and sharing on the mission of the family. We are called to learn what it means to be a strong Christian family, and what is meant by the mission of that role.
With the WMOF the Church invited all to explore the beauty and profound meaning she upholds as well as to deepen their understanding of the integral mission of the family. God placed the family at the center of creation and He places each one of us in the family, our first school where we learn crucial lessons of relationship. As Helen Alvare put it, “The way of freedom is the way of interdependent love…we are always in relationship; even alone, we are in relationship (with God)… God, in God’s SELF, is not alone! He is three: three Persons in a constant, never ending relationship of love.” In the family we are thrust into relationship with others we might not have chosen, and it is in the family that we learn to give every other person what Pope Benedict has called “the look of love they crave.”
It is where we are taught to be, in the Image of God, priests, prophets and kings. Bishop Barron, in the opening Keynote talk, spoke about the adventure, the command, the mission of the Christian to be “on the march.” We must be the ones to bring “right praise” to the world. As priests, we must bear the Image of God out to the world. If we keep our worship to ourselves, we are not fulfilling our mission; we cannot allow religion to become privatized like a hobby. As prophets, we take not the freedom of indifference, but the freedom for excellence, and proclaim the law that leads us to perfection. The popular, newly ordained bishop used an analogy of playing golf; one cannot just be handed a club and told to play however feels right. One must learn the precision, the laws of the sport, that” makes excellence possible, and then effortless.” Bishop Barron agreed that the Church does have “an extravagant demand,” but that it is exquisitely counterbalanced with “an extravagant mercy.” We must be like the king who is on the march, bringing his army to conquer his enemy at their very gates. Calling to mind the phrase “the gates of hell shall not prevail,” the bishop advised his listeners that we bring the Lord; it is we who are on the march, and the gates of hell, which we are setting out to conquer, has us to fear! We must go forth and sanctify the world! As Archbishop Paglia, President of the Pontifical Council for the Family, said at the Opening Ceremony of the World Meeting of Families, “Strong families mean strong societies…your work awaits you!”
October 7, 2015