Vatican City, Feb 26, 2014 / 04:01 am
In a letter written to families, Pope Francis spoke of the importance of family life in the Church, stating their prayers are crucial for the upcoming synod which is dedicated to the unique challenges they face.
"I ask you, therefore, to pray intensely to the Holy Spirit, so that the Spirit may illumine the Synodal Fathers and guide them in their important task," the Pope requested of families in his Feb. 25 letter, adding that "your prayer for the Synod of Bishops will be a precious treasure which enriches the Church."
Announced by the Vatican last autumn, this year's Synod of Bishops is slated to take place Oct. 5 – 19, and will explore the theme of "pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization."
Established by Paul VI in 1965, the Synod of Bishops meets in an extraordinary general assembly when the matter under consideration requires a rapid definition.
Referring to the "urgent pastoral needs" facing the life of the family today, the Roman Pontiff highlighted that the meeting will consist of bishops, priests, consecrated men and women, and lay persons, who are all preparing "through practical suggestions and the crucial support of prayer."
"Such support on your part, dear families, is especially significant and more necessary than ever," he emphasized, noting that the synod "is dedicated in a special way to you, to your vocation and mission in the Church and in society."
Drawing attention to the Ordinary Assembly which will take place one year after the Synod of Bishops, and which will also focus on the theme of the family, as well as to the World Meeting of Families which is to take place in Philadelphia in September 2015, Pope Francis called on families to pray that "through these events the Church will undertake a true journey of discernment and adopt the necessary pastoral means to help families face their present challenges with the light and strength that comes from the Gospel."
Highlighting how he chose to write this letter on the Feast of the Presentation, Pope Francis recalled how Simeon took Jesus "in his arms and thanked God that he had finally 'seen' salvation," and how "Anna, despite her advanced age, found new vigor and began to speak to everyone about the Baby."
"It is a beautiful image," he reflected: "two young parents and two elderly people, brought together by Jesus. He is the one who brings together and unites generations!"
"He is the inexhaustible font of that love which overcomes every occasion of self-absorption, solitude, and sadness."
"In your journey as a family, you share so many beautiful moments: meals, rest, housework, leisure, prayer, trips and pilgrimages, and times of mutual support," continued the Pope, emphasizing that "if there is no love" in these acts "then there is no joy," and "authentic love comes to us from Jesus."
Concluding his letter, the Bishop of Rome explained to families that their prayers for the upcoming events are "a precious treasure" for the Church, and thanked them for their offerings.
"I ask you to pray also for me, so that I may serve the People of God in truth and in love," he stated, asking that the Blessed Mother and St. Joseph "always accompany all of you and help you to walk united in love and in caring for one another."
"I willingly invoke on every family the blessing of the Lord."