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PONTIFICAL COUNCIL FOR THE FAMILY

THEMES FOR REFLECTION AND DIALOGUE IN PREPARATION
FOR THE FOURTH WORLD MEETING OF THE FAMILIES

 

THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY:
GOOD NEWS FOR THE THIRD MILLENNIUM

(Manila, January 25-26, 2003)

 

In the Christian view of marriage, the relationship between a man and a woman — a mutual and total bond, unique and indissoluble — is part of God's original plan, obscured throughout history by our «hardness of heart», but which Christ came to restore to its pristine splendour, disclosing what had been God's will «from the beginning» (Mt 19:8). Raised to the dignity of a Sacrament, marriage expresses the «great mystery» of Christ's nuptial love for his Church (cf. Eph 5:32).

On this point the Church cannot yield to cultural pressures, no matter how widespread and even militant they may be. Instead, it is necessary to ensure that through an ever more complete Gospel formation Christian families show convincingly that it is possible to live marriage fully in keeping with God's plan and with the true good of the human person — of the spouses, and of the children who are more fragile. Families themselves must become increasingly conscious of the care due to children, and play an active role in the Church and in society in safeguarding their rights.

Christians also have the mission of proclaiming with joy and conviction the Good News about the family, for the family absolutely needs to hear ever anew and to understand ever more deeply the authentic words that reveal its identity, its inner resources.

 

Presentation

As for the previous World Meetings, we are pleased to offer the following material to aid reflection, meditation, dialogue and prayer in preparation for the Fourth World Meeting of Families, which will take place in Manila (Philippines) from January 25-26, 2003.

The Fourth World Meeting follows the first in Rome (1994) during the Year of the Family, the second in Rio de Janeiro (1997), and the third in Rome (October 2000) in the framework of the Jubilee of Families.

The inspirational motto, «The Christian Family: Good News for the Third Millennium», was chosen by the Holy Father John Paul II. In the Apostolic Letter Novo Millennio Ineunte, His Holiness states that «the relationship between a man and a woman – a mutual and total bond, unique and indissoluble – is part of God’s original plan», and that as a result «on this point the Church cannot yield to cultural pressures, no matter how widespread and even militant they may be» (No. 47). This mystery of the «beginning», which is revealed to spouses in Christ’s love for His Church, is received in the Word and in the Sacrament and makes them witnesses to the Good News in family life.

The twelve units that follow develop the most significant themes regarding the Christian family as good news. In a synthetic and flexible way, the contents re-propose the fundamental themes of the Church’s teaching, often using the exact words taken from the most recent documents, especially those of the Second Vatican Council and the Papacy of John Paul II.

This material can be used as guidelines for those working in the pastoral care of the family in a process of reflection and dialogue. This process should take place preferably in family gatherings and adapt the themes to the different cultures and local social contexts. Such family gatherings consists in meetings of groups of families, parents and children, during which, with the help of a guide, they reflect on the proposed themes.

The structure of each meeting is very simple: after an opening song and recitation of the «Our Father», a passage from Sacred Scripture is read. Then the theme is read followed by a brief reflection by the priest or the one who leads the participants to dialogue and to make some specific commitments. The meeting ends with the recitation of the «Hail Mary», the Prayer for the Family, and a final song.

The themes for reflection and dialogue are suitable for preparation of the basic themes of the World Meeting of Families, both for those who will go to Manila on January 25-26, 2003, and for the families who will celebrate it in their own dioceses.

*****

TABLES OF CONTENTS

 

I) The Family Welcomes and Announces the Good News

II) The Christian Family: Witness to the Paschal Covenant

III) The Family: Heart of Evangelization

IV) The Christian Family: Domestic Church

V) The Holiness of the Family at the Service of the Gospel

VI) The Eucharist: Sign and Nourishment for Unconditional Conjugal Love

VII) Reconciliation and Forgiveness in the Family

VIII) The Family: Community of Prayer

IX) The Family: Nucleus and Source of Social Good

X) The Family and Love for the Weakest

XI) The Family Prepares and Follows Young Families

XII) The Family: Sanctuary of Life


I.
THE FAMILY WELCOMES AND ANNOUNCES
THE GOOD NEWS

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. And in that region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with fear. And the angel said to them, "Be not afraid; for behold, I bring you good news of a great joy which will come to all the people; for to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. And this will be a sign for you: you will find a babe wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger." And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying, "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace among men with whom he is pleased!"» (Lk, 2:6-14).

Reflection

The Church as Mother gives birth to, educates and builds up the Christian family. By proclaiming the Word of God, the Church reveals to the Christian family its true identity, what it is and should be according to the Lord's plan; by celebrating the sacraments, the Church enriches and strengthens the Christian family with the grace of Christ; by the continuous proclamation of the new commandment of love, the Church encourages and guides the Christian family to the service of love, so that it may imitate and relive the same self-giving and sacrificial love that the Lord Jesus has for the entire human race.

The Family Welcomes and Announces the Word

In turn, the Christian family is grafted into the mystery of the Church to such a degree as to become a sharer, in its own way, in the saving mission proper to the Church: the Christian family welcomes and announces the Word of God: it thus becomes more and more each day a believing and evangelizing community.

Christian spouses and parents are required to offer the obedience of faith (cf. Rom 16:26). They are called upon to welcome the word of the Lord which reveals to them the marvelous news—the Good News—of their conjugal and family life sanctified and made a source of sanctity by Christ Himself. Only in faith can they discover and admire with joyful gratitude the dignity to which God has deigned to raise marriage and the family, making them a sign and meeting place of the loving covenant between God and man, between Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church.

The very preparation for Christian marriage is itself a journey of faith. It is a special opportunity for the engaged to rediscover and deepen the faith received in Baptism and nourished by their Christian upbringing. In this way they come to recognize and freely accept their vocation to follow Christ and to serve the Kingdom of God in the married state.

In Everyday Life

The celebration of the sacrament of marriage is the basic moment of the faith of the couple. This sacrament, in essence, is the proclamation in the Church of the Good News concerning married love. It is the Word of God that «reveals» and «fulfils» the wise and loving plan of God for the married couple, giving them a mysterious and real share in the very love with which God Himself loves humanity. The sacramental celebration of marriage is a proclamation of the Word of God, which is made within and with the Church, as a community of believers. This also requires that it be prolonged in the life of the married couple and of the family. God, who called the couple «to» marriage, continues to call them «in» marriage. In and through the events, problems, difficulties and circumstances of everyday life, God comes to them, revealing and presenting the concrete «demands» of their sharing in the love of Christ for His Church in the particular family, social and ecclesial situation in which they find themselves.

To the extent in which the Christian family accepts the Gospel and matures in faith, it becomes an evangelizing community. The family, like the Church, ought to be a place where the Gospel is transmitted and from which the Gospel radiates. In a family which is conscious of this mission, all the members evangelize and are evangelized. The parents not only communicate the Gospel to their children, but from their children they can themselves receive the same Gospel as deeply lived by them. And such a family becomes the evangelizer of many other families, and of the neighborhood of which it forms part.

One cannot fail to stress the evangelizing action of the family in the evangelizing apostolate of the laity. In fact, the future of evangelization depends in great part on the Church of the home. This apostolic mission of the family is rooted in Baptism and receives from the grace of the sacrament of marriage new strength to transmit the faith, to sanctify and transform our present society according to God's plan. The future of humanity lies in the hands of the families that are strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

Why do we say that the family welcomes the Word of God?

How do we listen to the Word of God, welcome it, live it and proclaim it to the world through our words and life witness?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

II.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY:
WITNESS TO THE PASCHAL COVENANT

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Even so husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself.

For no man ever hates his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body.

"For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh." This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church; however, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband» (Eph 5:25-33).

Reflection

Particularly today, the Christian family has a special vocation to witness to the paschal covenant of Christ by constantly radiating the joy of love and the certainty of the hope for which it must give an account: the Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come.

A Sign of the Paschal Covenant

The Church professes that Marriage, as the Sacrament of the covenant between husband and wife, is a «great mystery», because it expresses the spousal love of Christ for his Church. Saint Paul writes: «Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word» (Eph 5:25-26). The Apostle is speaking here about Baptism, which he discusses at length in the Letter to the Romans, where he presents it as a sharing in the death of Christ leading to a sharing in his life (cf. Rom 6:3-4). In this Sacrament the believer is born as a new man, for Baptism has the power to communicate new life, the very life of God. The mystery of the God-man is in some way recapitulated in the event of Baptism. As Saint Irenaeus would later say, along with many other Fathers of the Church of both East and West: «Christ Jesus, our Lord, the Son of God, became the son of man so that man could become a son of God» (cf. Adversus haereses, III, 10, 2: PG 7, 873).

Christ, the Bridegroom of the Church

There is unquestionably a new presentation of the eternal truth about marriage and the family in the light of the New Covenant. Christ has revealed this truth in the Gospel by his presence at Cana in Galilee, by the sacrifice of the Cross and the Sacraments of his Church. Husbands and wives thus discover in Christ the point of reference for their spousal love. In speaking of Christ as the Bridegroom of the Church, Saint Paul uses the analogy of spousal love, referring back to the Book of Genesis: «A man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh» (Gen 2:24). This is the «great mystery» of that eternal love already present in creation, revealed in Christ and entrusted to the Church. «This mystery is a profound one», the Apostle repeats, «and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the Church» (Eph 5:32). The Church cannot therefore be understood as the Mystical Body of Christ, as the sign of man's Covenant with God in Christ, or as the universal sacrament of salvation, unless we keep in mind the «great mystery» involved in the creation of man as male and female and the vocation of both to conjugal love, to fatherhood and to motherhood. The «great mystery», which is the Church and humanity in Christ, does not exist apart from the «great mystery» expressed in the «one flesh» (cf. Gen 2:24; Eph 5:31-32), that is, in the reality of marriage and the family.

The Family: A Great Mystery

The family itself is the great mystery of God. As the «domestic church», it is the bride of Christ. The universal Church, and every particular Church in her, is most immediately revealed as the bride of Christ in the «domestic church» and in its experience of love: conjugal love, paternal and maternal love, fraternal love, the love of a community of persons and of generations. Could we even imagine human love without the Bridegroom and the love with which he first loved to the end? Only if husbands and wives share in that love and in that «great mystery» can they love «to the end». Unless they share in it, they do not know «to the end» what love truly is and how radical are its demands.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

Why do the spouses give witness in conjugal life to the mystery of the paschal covenant between Christ and His Church?

How is a loving response to Christ manifested in our family?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

III.
THE FAMILY: HEART OF EVANGELIZATION

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«And Jesus returned in the power of the Spirit into Galilee, and a report concerning him went out through all the surrounding country. And he taught in their synagogues, being glorified by all. And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up; and he went to the synagogue, as his custom was, on the sabbath day. And he stood up to read; and there was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord."» (Lk 4:14-19).

Reflection

Among the fundamental tasks of the Christian family is its ecclesial task: the family is placed at the service of building up the Kingdom of God in history by participating in the life and mission of the Church. The Christian family is called upon to take part actively and responsibly in the mission of the Church in a way that is original and specific, by placing itself, in what it is and what it does as an intimate community of life and love, at the service of the Church and of society.

A Community of Life and Love

Since the Christian family is a community in which the relationships are renewed by Christ through faith and the sacraments, the family's sharing in the Church's mission should follow a community pattern: the spouses together as a couple, the parents and children as a family, must live their service to the Church and to the world. They must be «of one heart and soul» (cf. Acts 4:32) in faith, through the shared apostolic zeal that animates them, and through their shared commitment to works of service to the ecclesial and civil communities.

The Christian family also builds up the Kingdom of God in history through the everyday realities that concern and distinguish its state of life. It is thus in the love between husband and wife and between the members of the family—a love lived out in all its extraordinary richness of values and demands: totality, oneness, fidelity and fruitfulness—that the Christian family's participation in the prophetic, priestly and kingly mission of Jesus Christ and of His Church finds expression and realization. Therefore, love and life constitute the nucleus of the saving mission of the Christian family in the Church and for the Church.

The Family: Subject of Evangelization

The Second Vatican Council also recalls this fact when it states that families will share their spiritual riches generously with other families too. Thus the Christian family, which springs from marriage as a reflection of the loving covenant uniting Christ with the Church, and as a participation in that covenant will manifest to all people the Savior's living presence in the world, and the genuine nature of the Church. This the family will do by the mutual love of the spouses, by their generous fruitfulness, their solidarity and faithfulness, and by the loving way in which all the members of the family work together.

Thus by sharing in her life and mission, the family is called to carry out its task of education in the Church. She wishes to carry out her educational mission above all through families who are made capable of undertaking this task by the Sacrament of Matrimony, through the «grace of state» which follows from it and the specific «charism» proper to the entire family community.

Religious Education

Certainly one area in which the family has an irreplaceable role is that of religious education, which enables the family to grow as a «domestic church». Religious education and the catechesis of children make the family a true subject of evangelization and the apostolate within the Church. We are speaking of a right intrinsically linked to the principle of religious liberty. Families, and more specifically parents, are free to choose for their children a particular kind of religious and moral education consonant with their own convictions. Even when they entrust these responsibilities to ecclesiastical institutions or to schools administered by religious personnel, their educational presence ought to continue to be constant and active.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

Why are parents the first and principal educators of their children, and why is this education their right-duty?

Are parents aware of their responsibility to be the first evangelizers of their children and to transmit the Christian faith to them?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

IV.
THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY: DOMESTIC CHURCH

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. And he came to her and said, "Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!" But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, "Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end."» (Lk 1:26-33).

Reflection

Christ chose to be born and grow up in the bosom of the holy family of Joseph and Mary. The Church is nothing other than «the family of God.» From the beginning, the core of the Church was often constituted by those who had become believers «together with all [their] household» (cf. Acts 18:8). When they were converted, they desired that their whole household should also be saved (cf. Acts 16:31 and 11:14). These families who became believers were islands of Christian life in an unbelieving world.

In our own time, in a world often alien and even hostile to faith, believing families are of primary importance as centers of living, radiant faith. For this reason the Second Vatican Council, using an ancient expression, calls the family the Ecclesia domestica Domestic Church (LG, 11; cf. FC, 21). It is in the bosom of the family that parents are by word and example . . . the first heralds of the faith with regard to their children. They should encourage them in the vocation which is proper to each child, fostering with special care any religious vocation.

The Priesthood of the Baptized and Family Catechesis

It is here that the father of the family, the mother, children, and all members of the family exercise the priesthood of the baptized in a privileged way by the reception of the sacraments, prayer and thanksgiving, the witness of a holy life, and self-denial and active charity. Thus the home is the first school of Christian life and a school for human enrichment. Here one learns endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous—even repeated—forgiveness, and above all divine worship in prayer and the offering of one's life.

The absolute need for family catechesis emerges with particular force in certain situations that the Church unfortunately experiences in some places. In places where anti-religious legislation endeavors even to prevent education in the faith, and in places where widespread unbelief or invasive secularism makes real religious growth practically impossible, «the Church of the home» remains the one place where children and young people can receive an authentic catechesis.

Openness to Those Who Are Far Away

The family is the domestic church that is also called to be a luminous sign of the presence of Christ and of His love for those who are «far away,» for families who do not yet believe, and for those Christian families who no longer live in accordance with the faith that they once received. The Christian family is called to enlighten by its example and its witness... those who seek the truth. Just like Aquila and Priscilla (cf. Acts 18; Rom 16:3-4) at the dawn of Christianity, today, too, the Church shows forth her perennial newness and fruitfulness by the presence of Christian couples and families who dedicate at least a part of their lives to working in missionary territories, proclaiming the Gospel and doing service to their fellowman in the love of Jesus Christ.

Many single people remain without a human family often due to conditions of poverty. Some live their situation in the spirit of the Beatitudes, serving God and neighbor in exemplary fashion. The doors of homes, the «domestic churches,» and of the great family which is the Church must be open to all of them. No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who «labor and are heavy laden» (Mt 11:28).

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

What does it means in daily life to be a «domestic church» or the «church of home»?

Does our family live openness towards those who are far away and alone? Suggest some concrete ways to help others.

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

V.
THE HOLINESS OF THE FAMILY
AT THE SERVICE OF THE GOSPEL

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«Afterward he appeared to the eleven themselves as they sat at table; and he upbraided them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they had not believed those who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, "Go into all the world and preach the gospel to the whole creation. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover."» (Mark 16:14-18)

Reflection

By means of the sacrament of marriage, in which it is rooted and from which it draws its nourishment, the family is continuously vivified by the Lord Jesus and called and engaged by Him in a dialogue with God through the sacraments, through the offering of one's life, and through prayer.

The sacrament of marriage is the specific source and original means of sanctification for Christian married couples and families. It takes up again and makes specific the sanctifying grace of Baptism. By virtue of the mystery of the death and Resurrection of Christ, of which the spouses are made part in a new way by marriage, conjugal love is purified and made holy: this love the Lord has judged worthy of special gifts, healing, perfecting and exalting gifts of grace and of charity.

Jesus Abides With Them

The gift of Jesus Christ is not exhausted in the actual celebration of the sacrament of marriage, but rather accompanies the married couple throughout their lives. Jesus Christ abides with them so that, just as He loved the Church and handed Himself over on her behalf, the spouses may love each other with perpetual fidelity through mutual self-dedication.... For this reason, Christian spouses have a special sacrament by which they are fortified and receive a kind of consecration in the duties and dignity of their state. By virtue of this sacrament, as spouses fulfill their conjugal and family obligations, they are penetrated with the Spirit of Christ, who fills their whole lives with faith, hope and charity. Thus they increasingly advance towards their own perfection, as well as towards their mutual sanctification, and hence contribute jointly to the glory of God.

Christian spouses and parents are included in the universal call to sanctity. For them this call is specified by the sacrament they have celebrated and is carried out concretely in the realities proper to their conjugal and family life. This gives rise to the grace and requirement of an authentic and profound conjugal and family spirituality that draws its inspiration from the themes of creation, covenant, cross, resurrection, and sign.

Witnesses to the «Gospel of the family»

Just as husbands and wives receive from the sacrament the gift and responsibility of translating into daily living the sanctification bestowed on them, so the same sacrament confers on them the grace and moral obligation of transforming their whole lives into a «spiritual sacrifice.» What the Council says of the laity applies also to Christian spouses and parents, especially with regard to the earthly and temporal realities that characterize their lives: as worshippers leading holy lives in every place, the laity consecrate the world itself to God.

In our age, as in the past, there is no lack of witnesses to the «gospel of the family», even if they are not well known or have not been proclaimed saints by the Church. In the Church, the treasure of the family has been entrusted first and foremost to witnesses: to those fathers and mothers, sons and daughters who through the family have discovered the path of their human and Christian vocation, the dimension of the «inner man» (Eph 3:16) of which the Apostle speaks, and thus have attained holiness. The Holy Family is the beginning of countless other holy families. The Council recalled that holiness is the vocation of all the baptized.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

What does it means for the spouses to be called to holiness?

How can this call be answered in daily life?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

VI.
THE EUCHARIST: SIGN AND NOURISHMENT
FOR UNCONDITIONAL CONJUGAL LOVE

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of man and drink his blood, you have no life in you; he who eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For my flesh is food indeed, and my blood is drink indeed. He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me. This is the bread which came down from heaven, not such as the fathers ate and died; he who eats this bread will live for ever."» (Jn 6:53-58).

Reflection

The sacraments of Christian initiation—Baptism, Confirmation, and the Eucharist—lay the foundations of every Christian life. The sharing in the divine nature given to men through the grace of Christ bears a certain likeness to the origin, development, and nourishing of natural life. The faithful are born anew by Baptism, strengthened by the sacrament of Confirmation, and receive in the Eucharist the food of eternal life. By means of these sacraments of Christian initiation, they thus receive in increasing measure the treasures of the divine life and advance toward the perfection of charity.

Source and Strength of the Conjugal Covenant

The Sunday Eucharist which every week gathers Christians together as God's family round the table of the Word and the Bread of Life, is also the most natural antidote to dispersion. It is the privileged place where communion is ceaselessly proclaimed and nurtured. Precisely through sharing in the Eucharist, the Lord's Day also becomes the Day of the Church.

The Christian family's sanctifying role is grounded in Baptism and has its highest expression in the Eucharist, to which Christian marriage is intimately connected.

The Eucharist is the very source of Christian marriage. The Eucharistic Sacrifice, in fact, represents Christ's covenant of love with the Church, sealed with His blood on the Cross (cf. Jn 19:34). In this sacrifice of the New and Eternal Covenant, Christian spouses encounter the source from which their own marriage covenant flows, is interiorly structured and continuously renewed. As a representation of Christ's sacrifice of love for the Church, the Eucharist is a fountain of charity. In the Eucharistic gift of charity the Christian family finds the foundation and soul of its «communion» and its «mission»: by partaking in the Eucharistic bread, the different members of the Christian family become one body, which reveals and shares in the wider unity of the Church. Their sharing in the Body of Christ that is «given up» and in His Blood that is «shed» becomes a never-ending source of missionary and apostolic dynamism for the Christian family.

Educational Power of the Eucharist

The Eucharist is truly a wondrous sacrament. In it Christ has given us himself as food and drink, as a source of saving power. He has left himself to us that we might have life and have it in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10): the life which is in him and which he has shared with us by the gift of the Spirit in rising from the dead on the third day. The life that comes from Christ is a life for us. Christ is close to you. And he is Emmanuel, God with us, in an even greater way whenever you approach the table of the Eucharist. It can happen, as it did at Emmaus, that he is recognized only in «the breaking of the bread» (cf. Lk 24:35). It may well be that he has been knocking at the door for a long time, waiting for it to be opened so that he can enter and eat with us (cf. Rev 3:20). The Last Supper and the words he spoke there contain all the power and wisdom of the sacrifice of the Cross. No other power and wisdom exist by which we can be saved and through which we can help to save others. There is no other power and no other wisdom by which you, parents, can educate both your children and yourselves. The educational power of the Eucharist has been proved down the generations and centuries.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

Why is the Eucharist the source and culmination of Christian life?

What is the place of the Eucharist in family life?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

VII.
RECONCILIATION AND FORGIVENESS
IN THE FAMILY

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near in the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who has made us both one, and has broken down the dividing wall of hostility, by abolishing in his flesh the law of commandments and ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby bringing the hostility to an end. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father» (Eph 2:13-18).

 

Reflection

An essential and permanent part of the Christian family's sanctifying role consists in accepting the call to conversion that the Gospel addresses to all Christians, who do not always remain faithful to the «newness» of the Baptism that constitutes them «saints.» Often refusing to acknowledge God as his beginning, man has disrupted also his proper relationship to his own ultimate goal as well as his whole relationship toward himself and others and all created things. The Christian family too is sometimes unfaithful to the law of baptismal grace and holiness proclaimed anew in the sacrament of marriage.

Conflicts and Reconciliation in the Family

Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice. It requires, in fact, a ready and generous openness of each and all to understanding, to forbearance, to pardon, to reconciliation. There is no family that does not know how selfishness, discord, tension and conflict violently attack and at times mortally wound its own communion: hence there arise the many and varied forms of division in family life. But, at the same time, every family is called by the God of peace to have the joyous and renewing experience of «reconciliation,» that is, communion reestablished, unity restored. In particular, participation in the sacrament of Reconciliation and in the banquet of the one Body of Christ offers to the Christian family the grace and the responsibility of overcoming every division and of moving towards the fullness of communion willed by God, responding in this way to the ardent desire of the Lord: «that they may be one.» (Jn 17:21).

The Sacrament of Penance and Peace in the Family

Repentance and mutual pardon within the bosom of the Christian family, so much a part of daily life, receive their specific sacramental expression in Christian Penance. In the Encyclical Humanae vitae, Paul VI wrote of married couples: «And if sin should still keep its hold over them, let them not be discouraged, but rather have recourse with humble perseverance to the mercy of God, which is abundantly poured forth in the sacrament of Penance» (No. 25).

It is necessary to rediscover Christ as the mysterium pietatis, the one in whom God shows us his compassionate heart and reconciles us fully with himself. It is this face of Christ that must be rediscovered through the Sacrament of Penance, which for the faithful is the ordinary way of obtaining forgiveness and the remission of serious sins committed after Baptism.

The celebration of this sacrament acquires special significance for family life. While they discover in faith that sin contradicts not only the covenant with God, but also the covenant between husband and wife and the communion of the family, the married couple and the other members of the family are led to an encounter with God, who is «rich in mercy,» (Eph 2:4) who bestows on them His love which is more powerful than sin, and who reconstructs and brings to perfection the marriage covenant and the family communion.

This capacity depends on the divine grace of forgiveness and reconciliation, which always ensures the spiritual energy to begin anew. For this very reason family members need to encounter Christ in the Church through the wonderful Sacrament of Penance and Reconciliation.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

Have we experienced the benefits of the Sacrament of Penance in family life?

Have we received the gift of forgiveness in the midst of our difficulties and misunderstandings?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

VIII.
THE FAMILY: COMMUNITY OF PRAYER

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«Ask, and it will be given you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For every one who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!» (Mt 7:7-11).

Reflection

Prayer makes the Son of God present among us. The words with which the Lord Jesus promises His presence can be applied to the members of the Christian family in a special way: «Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of them.» (Mt 18:19-20).

Prayers Opens Us to Love for Our Brothers and Sisters

In effect, the baptismal priesthood of the faithful, exercised in the sacrament of marriage, constitutes the basis of a mission for the spouses and the family by which their daily lives are transformed into «spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.» (1 Pt 2:5). The Christian communities must become genuine «schools» of prayer, where the meeting with Christ is expressed not just in imploring help but also in thanksgiving, praise, adoration, contemplation, listening and ardent devotion, until the heart truly «falls in love». Intense prayer, yes, but it does not distract us from our commitment to history: by opening our heart to the love of God it also opens it to the love of our brothers and sisters, and makes us capable of shaping history according to God's plan.

Teaching Children to Pray

Christian parents have the specific responsibility of educating their children in prayer, introducing them to gradual discovery of the mystery of God and to personal dialogue with Him: it is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and the office of the sacrament of Matrimony, that from the earliest years children should be taught, according to the faith received in Baptism, to have a knowledge of God, to worship Him and to love their neighbor.

Family prayer has its own characteristic qualities. It is prayer offered in common, husband and wife together, parents and children together. Communion in prayer is both a consequence of and a requirement for the communion bestowed by the sacraments of Baptism and Matrimony. The concrete example and living witness of parents is fundamental and irreplaceable in educating their children to pray. Only by praying together with their children can a father and mother—exercising their royal priesthood—penetrate the innermost depths of their children's hearts and leave an impression that the future events in their lives will not be able to efface.

It is significant that precisely in and through prayer, man comes to discover in a very simple and yet profound way his own unique subjectivity: in prayer the human «I» more easily perceives the depth of what it means to be a person. This is also true of the family, which is not only the basic «cell» of society, but also possesses a particular subjectivity of its own. This subjectivity finds its first and fundamental confirmation, and is strengthened, precisely when the members of the family meet in the common invocation: «Our Father». Prayer increases the strength and spiritual unity of the family, helping the family to partake of God's own «strength».

Prayer in the Family and Liturgical Prayer

An important purpose of the prayer of the domestic Church is to serve as the natural introduction for the children to the liturgical prayer of the whole Church. Hence the need for gradual participation by all the members of the Christian family in the celebration of the Eucharist, especially on Sundays and feast days, and of the other sacraments, particularly the sacraments of Christian initiation of the children.

The liturgy is the summit towards which the activity of the Church is directed; it is also the source from which all her power flows. It is therefore the privileged place for catechising the People of God. Catechesis is intrinsically linked with the whole of liturgical and sacramental activity, for it is in the sacraments, especially in the Eucharist, that Christ Jesus works in fullness for the transformation of men.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

What advantages are derived from parents praying together with their children?

What is the relationship between prayer in the family and liturgical prayer? Both are necessary.

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

IX.
THE FAMILY: NUCLEUS AND SOURCE
OF SOCIAL GOOD

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And fear came upon every soul; and many wonders and signs were done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common; and they sold their possessions and goods and distributed them to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they partook of food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.» (Acts 2:42-47).

 

Reflection

The family has vital and organic links with society, since it is its foundation and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life: it is from the family that citizens come to birth and it is within the family that they find the first school of the social virtues that are the animating principle of the existence and development of society itself. Thus, far from being closed in on itself, the family is by nature and vocation open to other families and to society, and undertakes its social role.

The Family: A Social Subject

The family is in fact a community of persons whose proper way of existing and living together is communion: communio personarum (communion of persons). Therefore, the family is the first and fundamental school of social living: as a community of love, it finds in self-giving the law that guides it and makes it grow. The self-giving that inspires the love of husband and wife for each other is the model and norm for the self-giving that must be practiced in the relationships between brothers and sisters and the different generations living together in the family. And the communion and sharing that are part of everyday life in the home at times of joy and at times of difficulty are the most concrete and effective pedagogy for the active, responsible and fruitful inclusion of the children in the wider horizon of society.

Every child is a gift to its brothers, sisters, parents and entire family. Its life becomes a gift for the very people who were givers of life and who cannot help but feel its presence, its sharing in their life and its contribution to their common good and to that of the community of the family. This truth is obvious in its simplicity and profundity, whatever the complexity and even the possible pathology of the psychological make-up of certain persons. The common good of the whole of society dwells in man; he is, as we recalled, «the way of the Church».

The very experience of communion and sharing that should characterize the family's daily life represents its first and fundamental contribution to society. The relationships between the members of the family community are inspired and guided by the law of «free giving.» By respecting and fostering personal dignity in each and every one as the only basis for value, this free giving takes the form of heartfelt acceptance, encounter and dialogue, disinterested availability, generous service and deep solidarity.

The First School of Social Living

Thus the fostering of authentic and mature communion between persons within the family is the first and irreplaceable school of social life, an example and stimulus for the broader community relationships marked by respect, justice, dialogue and love. The family is thus the place of origin and the most effective means for humanizing and personalizing society: it makes an original contribution in depth to building up the world, by making possible a life that is properly speaking human, in particular by guarding and transmitting virtues and «values.»

Consequently, faced with a society that is running the risk of becoming more and more depersonalized and standardized and therefore inhuman and dehumanizing, with the negative results of many forms of escapism—such as alcoholism, drugs and even terrorism—the family possesses and continues still to release formidable energies capable of taking man out of his anonymity, keeping him conscious of his personal dignity, enriching him with deep humanity and actively placing him, in his uniqueness and unrepeatability, within the fabric of society.

The Rights of the Family and the Right to Life

Solidarity also needs to be practised through participation in social and political life. Serving the Gospel of life thus means that the family, particularly through its membership in family associations, works to ensure that the laws and institutions of the State in no way violate the right to life, from conception to natural death, but rather protect and promote it.

The Charter of the Rights of the Family is of course also directed to the families themselves: it aims at reinforcing among families an awareness of the irreplaceable role and position of the family; it wishes to inspire families to unite in the defence and promotion of their rights; it encourages families to fulfil their duties in such a way that the role of the family will become more clearly appreciated and recognized in today’s world.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

In what sense is the family a school of social living?

What is the role of families in respecting the rights of the family and protecting life from the first moment of conception?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

X.
THE FAMILY AND LOVE FOR THE WEAKEST

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«And Jesus went on from there and passed along the Sea of Galilee. And he went up on the mountain, and sat down there. And great crowds came to him, bringing with them the lame, the maimed, the blind, the dumb, and many others, and they put them at his feet, and he healed them, so that the throng wondered, when they saw the dumb speaking, the maimed whole, the lame walking, and the blind seeing; and they glorified the God of Israel. Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, "I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days, and have nothing to eat; and I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way." And the disciples said to him, "Where are we to get bread enough in the desert to feed so great a crowd?". And Jesus said to them, "How many loaves have you?" They said, "Seven, and a few small fish." And commanding the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied; and they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. And sending away the crowds, he got into the boat and went to the region of Mag'adan.» (Mt 15:29-39).

Reflection

The social role of the family certainly cannot stop short at procreation and education, even if this constitutes its primary and irreplaceable form of expression. Families therefore, either singly or in association, can and should devote themselves to manifold social service activities, especially in favor of the poor, or at any rate for the benefit of all people and situations that cannot be reached by the public authorities' welfare organization. The social contribution of the family has an original character of its own, one that should be given greater recognition and more decisive encouragement, especially as the children grow up, and actually involving all its members as much as possible.

Openness with Solidarity to All People as Our Brothers and Sisters

Inspired and sustained by the new commandment of love, the Christian family welcomes, respects and serves every human being, considering each one in his or her dignity as a person and as a child of God. Love, too, goes beyond our brothers and sisters of the same faith since «everybody is my brother or sister.» In each individual, especially in the poor, the weak, and those who suffer or are unjustly treated, love knows how to discover the face of Christ, and discover a fellow human being to be loved and served. The Christian family places itself at the service of the human person and the world, really bringing about the «human advancement». Another task for the family is to form persons in love and also to practice love in all its relationships, so that it does not live closed in on itself, but remains open to the community, moved by a sense of justice and concern for others, as well as by a consciousness of its responsibility towards the whole of society.

In particular, note must be taken of the ever greater importance in our society of hospitality in all its forms, from opening the door of one's home and still more of one's heart to the pleas of one's brothers and sisters, to concrete efforts to ensure that every family has its own home, as the natural environment that preserves it and makes it grow. In a special way the Christian family is called upon to listen to the Apostle's recommendation: «Practice hospitality,» (Rom 12:13) and therefore, imitating Christ's example and sharing in His love, to welcome the brother or sister in need: «Whoever gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he shall not lose his reward» (Mt 10:42).

The unjust distribution of wealth between the developed and developing world and between rich and poor in the same country, the misuse of natural resources consumed by the few, mass-illiteracy, the continuance and re-emergence of racism, burgeoning ethnic conflict, and armed conflicts generally are also having a devastating effect on the family.

Service to the Smallest, the Weakest and the Poorest

The service to the Gospel of life is expressed in solidarity. A particularly significant expression of solidarity between families is a willingness to adopt or take in children abandoned by their parents or in situations of serious hardship. True parental love is ready to go beyond the bonds of flesh and blood in order to accept children from other families, offering them whatever is necessary for their well-being and full development.

The Fathers of the Church have spoken of the family as a «domestic church», a «little church». «To be together» as a family, to be for one another, to make room in a community for affirming each person as such, for affirming «this» individual person. At times it is a matter of people with physical or psychological handicaps, of whom the so-called «progressive» society would prefer to be free. Even the family can end up like this kind of society. It does so when it hastily rids itself of people who are aged, disabled or sick. This happens when there is a loss of faith in that God for whom «all live» (cf. Lk 20:38) and are called to the fullness of Life.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

In what way does the family’s openness contribute to its growth?

In what different ways can real solidarity in charity be achieved?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

XI.
THE FAMILY PREPARES AND FOLLOWS
YOUNG FAMILIES

 

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«After the two days he departed to Galilee. For Jesus himself testified that a prophet has no honor in his own country. So when he came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed him, having seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the feast, for they too had gone to the feast. So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Caper'na-um there was an official whose son was ill. When he heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went and begged him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. Jesus therefore said to him, "Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe." The official said to him, "Sir, come down before my child dies."
50: Jesus said to him, "Go; your son will live." The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was living. So he asked them the hour when he began to mend, and they said to him, "Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him." The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, "Your son will live"; and he himself believed, and all his household.
» (Jn 4:43-53).

Reflection

More than ever necessary in our times is preparation of young people for marriage and family life. In some countries it is still the families themselves that, according to ancient customs, ensure the passing on to young people of the values concerning married and family life, and they do this through a gradual process of education or initiation. But the changes that have taken place within almost all modern societies demand that not only the family but also society and the Church should be involved in the effort.

Children’s Preparation for Marriage

The Church has made notable efforts to promote marriage preparation, for example by offering courses for engaged couples. All this is worthwhile and necessary. But it must not be forgotten that preparing for future life as a couple is above all the task of the family. To be sure, only spiritually mature families can adequately assume that responsibility. Hence we should point out the need for a special solidarity among families. This can be expressed in various practical ways, as for example by associations of families for families. The institution of the family is strengthened by such expressions of solidarity, which bring together not only individuals but also communities, with a commitment to pray together and to seek together the answers to life's essential questions. Is this not an invaluable expression of the apostolate of families to one another? It is important that families attempt to build bonds of solidarity among themselves. This allows them to assist each other in the educational enterprise: parents are educated by other parents, and children by other children. Thus a particular tradition of education is created, which draws strength from the character of the «domestic church» proper to the family.

Follow-up for Young Families

This holds true especially for young families, which, finding themselves in a context of new values and responsibilities, are more vulnerable, especially in the first years of marriage, to possible difficulties, such as those created by adaptation to life together or by the birth of children. Young married couples should learn to accept willingly, and make good use of, the discreet, tactful and generous help offered by other couples that already have more experience of married and family life. Thus, within the ecclesial community—the great family made up of Christian families—there will take place a mutual exchange of presence and help among all the families, each one putting at the service of others its own experience of life, as well as the gifts of faith and grace. Animated by a true apostolic spirit, this assistance from family to family will constitute one of the simplest, most effective and most accessible means for transmitting from one to another those Christian values which are both the starting point and goal of all pastoral care. Thus young families will not limit themselves merely to receiving, but in their turn, having been helped in this way, will become a source of enrichment for other longer established families, through their witness of life and practical contribution.

In her pastoral care of young families, the Church must also pay special attention to helping them to live married love responsibly in relationship with its demands of communion and service to life. She must likewise help them to harmonize the intimacy of home life with the generous shared work of building up the Church and society. When children are born and the married couple becomes a family in the full and specific sense, the Church will still remain close to the parents in order that they may accept their children and love them as a gift received from the Lord of life, and joyfully accept the task of serving them in their human and Christian growth.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

How can parents prepare their children best for marriage and family life?

The apostolate of Christian families with all families: how can young spouses be helped during the first years of marriage?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

XII.
THE FAMILY: SANCTUARY OF LIFE

Opening song

Recitation of the Our Father

Biblical reading

«The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. He who is a hireling and not a shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf snatches them and scatters them. He flees because he is a hireling and cares nothing for the sheep. I am the good shepherd; I know my own and my own know me, as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.» (Jn 10:10-15).

Reflection

The fundamental task of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator—that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person (cf. Gen 5:1-3).

The Family and Life: An Inseparable Pair

The family has a decisive responsibility. This responsibility flows from its very nature as a community of life and love, founded upon marriage, and from its mission to guard, reveal and communicate love. Here it is a matter of God's own love, of which parents are co-workers and, as it were, interpreters when they transmit life and raise it according to his fatherly plan. This is the love that becomes selflessness, receptiveness and gift. Within the family each member is accepted, respected and honoured precisely because he or she is a person; and if any family member is in greater need, the care which he or she receives is all the more intense and attentive.

The family has a special role to play throughout the life of its members, from birth to death. It is truly the sanctuary of life: the place in which life – the gift of God – can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth. Consequently the role of the family in building a culture of life is decisive and irreplaceable.

As the domestic church, the family is summoned to proclaim, celebrate and serve the Gospel of life. This is a responsibility which first concerns married couples, called to be givers of life, on the basis of an ever greater awareness of the meaning of procreation as a unique event which clearly reveals that human life is a gift received in order then to be given as a gift. In giving origin to a new life, parents recognize that the child, as the fruit of their mutual gift of love, is, in turn, a gift for both of them, a gift which flows from them.

Educating Children to Respect Life

It is above all in raising children that the family fulfils its mission to proclaim the Gospel of life. By word and example, in the daily round of relations and choices, and through concrete actions and signs, parents lead their children to authentic freedom, actualized in the sincere gift of self, and they cultivate in them respect for others, a sense of justice, cordial openness, dialogue, generous service, solidarity and all the other values which help people to live life as a gift.

Even amid the difficulties of the work of education, difficulties which are often greater today, parents must trustingly and courageously train their children in the essential values of human life. Children must grow up with a correct attitude of freedom with regard to material goods, by adopting a simple and austere life style and being fully convinced that man is more precious for what he is than for what he has.

In raising children Christian parents must be concerned about their children's faith and help them to fulfil the vocation God has given them. The parents' mission as educators also includes teaching and giving their children an example of the true meaning of suffering and death. They will be able to do this if they are sensitive to all kinds of suffering around them and, even more, if they succeed in fostering attitudes of closeness, assistance and sharing towards sick or elderly members of the family.

Reflections of the priest or leader

Dialogue

How can the meaning and value of life be transmitted to children?

What are the privileged moments for educating children to welcome conceived life and to respect it until its end?

Commitments

Hail Mary

Queen of the Family: pray for us

Prayer for the Family

Final Song

 

Prayer for the Family

Lord God, from you every family
in heaven and on earth takes its name.

Father, you are Love and Life.
Through your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman,
and through the Holy Spirit, fountain of divine charity,
grant that every family on earth may become
for each successive generation
a true shrine of life and love.

Grant that your grace may guide the thoughts and actions
of husbands and wives
for the good of their families and of all the families in the world.

Grant that the young may find in the family
solid support for their human dignity
and for their growth in truth and love.

Grant that love,
strengthened by the grace of the sacrament of marriage,
may prove mightier than all the weakness and trials
through which our families sometimes pass.

Through the intercession of the Holy Family of Nazareth,
grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out
her worldwide mission in the family
and through the family.

Through Christ our Lord, who is the Way, the Truth and the Life
for ever and ever. Amen.

(John Paul II)


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Vatican Council II, Pastoral Constitution «Gaudium et Spes» (December 7, 1965)

Paul VI, Apostolic Exhortation «Evangelii Nuntiandi» (December 8, 1975)

John Paul II, Apostolic Exhortation «Familiaris Consortio» (November 22, 1981)

Charter of the Rights of the Family presented by the Holy See (October 22, 1983)

Catechism of the Catholic Church (November 21, 1992)

John Paul II, Letter to Families «Gratissimam Sane» (February 2, 1994)

John Paul II, Encyclical «Evangelium Vitae» (March 25, 1995)

John Paul II, Apostolic Letter «Novo Millennio Ineunte» (January 6, 2001)

 

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