Sunday, October 4, 2015

POPE FRANCIS' POWERFUL HOMILY IN ENGLISH FOR THE OPENING OF THE SYNOD ON THE FAMILY

"I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II, Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11)."

HOMILY OF HIS HOLINESS POPE FRANCIS
Vatican Basilica
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, 4 October 2015


(My brief commentary in red. Please note too the number of references to Pope Benedict XVI!) 

“If we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us” (1 Jn 4:12).

This Sunday’s Scripture readings seem to have been chosen precisely for this moment of grace which the Church is experiencing: the Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the family, which begins with this Eucharistic celebration.

The readings centre on three themes: solitude, love between man and woman, and the family.

Solitude

Adam, as we heard in the first reading, was living in the Garden of Eden. He named all the other creatures as a sign of his dominion, his clear and undisputed power, over all of them. Nonetheless, he felt alone, because “there was not found a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:20). He was lonely.

The drama of solitude is experienced by countless men and women in our own day. I think of the elderly, abandoned even by their loved ones and children; widows and widowers; the many men and women left by their spouses; all those who feel alone, misunderstood and unheard; migrants and refugees fleeing from war and persecution; and those many young people who are victims of the culture of consumerism, the culture of waste, the throwaway culture. (This is the foundation of Pope Francis' pastoral theology.)


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.

Our experience today is, in some way, like that of Adam: so much power and at the same time so much loneliness and vulnerability. The image of this is the family. People are less and less serious about building a solid and fruitful relationship of love: in sickness and in health, for better and for worse, in good times and in bad. Love which is lasting, faithful, conscientious, stable and fruitful is increasingly looked down upon, viewed as a quaint relic of the past. It would seem that the most advanced societies are the very ones which have the lowest birth-rates and the highest percentages of abortion, divorce, suicide, and social and environmental pollution.

Love between man and woman

In the first reading we also hear that God was pained by Adam’s loneliness. He said: “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him” (Gen 2:18). These words show that nothing makes man’s heart as happy as another heart like his own, a heart which loves him and takes away his sense of being alone. These words also show that God did not create us to live in sorrow or to be alone. He made men and women for happiness, to share their journey with someone who complements them, to live the wondrous experience of love: to love and to be loved, and to see their love bear fruit in children, as the Psalm proclaimed today says (cf. Ps 128).

This is God’s dream for his beloved creation: to see it fulfilled in the loving union between a man and a woman, rejoicing in their shared journey, fruitful in their mutual gift of self. It is the same plan which Jesus presents in today’s Gospel: “From the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female’. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. So they are no longer two but one flesh” (Mk 10:6-8; cf. Gen 1:27; 2:24).

To a rhetorical question – probably asked as a trap to make him unpopular with the crowd, which practiced divorce as an established and inviolable fact – Jesus responds in a straightforward and unexpected way. He brings everything back to the beginning, to the beginning of creation, to teach us that God blesses human love, that it is he who joins the hearts of two people who love one another, he who joins them in unity and indissolubility. This shows us that the goal of conjugal life is not simply to live together for life, but to love one another for life! In this way Jesus re-establishes the order which was present from the beginning.

Family

“What therefore God has joined together, let not man put asunder” (Mk 10:9). This is an exhortation to believers to overcome every form of individualism and legalism which conceals a narrow self-centredness and a fear of accepting the true meaning of the couple and of human sexuality in God’s plan.

Indeed, only in the light of the folly of the gratuitousness of Jesus’ paschal love will the folly of the gratuitousness of an exclusive and life-long conjugal love make sense.

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.

Paradoxically, people today – who often ridicule this plan – continue to be attracted and fascinated by every authentic love, by every steadfast love, by every fruitful love, by every faithful and enduring love. We see people chase after fleeting loves while dreaming of true love; they chase after carnal pleasures but desire total self-giving.

“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

In this extremely difficult social and marital context, the Church is called to carry out her mission in fidelity, truth and love.

To carry out her mission in fidelity to her Master as a voice crying out in the desert, in defending faithful love and encouraging the many families which live married life as an experience which reveals of God’s love; in defending the sacredness of life, of every life; in defending the unity and indissolubility of the conjugal bond as a sign of God’s grace and of the human person’s ability to love seriously.

The Church is called to carry out her mission in truth, which is not changed by passing fads or popular opinions. The truth which protects individuals and humanity as a whole from the temptation of self-centredness and from turning fruitful love into sterile selfishness, faithful union into temporary bonds. “Without truth, charity degenerates into sentimentality. Love becomes an empty shell, to be filled in an arbitrary way. In a culture without truth, this is the fatal risk facing love” (Benedict XVI, Caritas in Veritate, 3).

And the Church is called to carry out her mission in charity, not pointing a finger in judgment of others, but – faithful to her nature as a mother – conscious of her duty to seek out and care for hurting couples with the balm of acceptance and mercy; to be a “field hospital” with doors wide open to whoever knocks in search of help and support; even more, to reach out to others with true love, to walk with our fellow men and women who suffer, to include them and guide them to the wellspring of salvation. (This has always been the mission of the Church and always will be--this did not start with Pope Francis, let's be clear on this!)

A Church which teaches and defends fundamental values, while not forgetting that “the Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mk 2:27); and that Jesus also said: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mk 2:17). A Church which teaches authentic love, which is capable of taking loneliness away, without neglecting her mission to be a good Samaritan to wounded humanity.

I remember when Saint John Paul II said: “Error and evil must always be condemned and opposed; but the man who falls or who errs must be understood and loved… we must love our time and help the man of our time” (John Paul II, Address to the Members of Italian Catholic Action, 30 December 1978). The Church must search out these persons, welcome and accompany them, for a Church with closed doors betrays herself and her mission, and, instead of being a bridge, becomes a roadblock: “For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified have all one origin. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Heb 2:11).

In this spirit we ask the Lord to accompany us during the Synod and to guide his Church, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary and Saint Joseph, her most chaste spouse.

13 comments:

Chris Rawlings said...

This was probably one of his clearest expositions of authentic Catholic teaching on marriage. A hopeful start to a painful synod.

Vox Cantoris said...

What is lacking, not that the homily may have been the place for it, is a complete slap-down of those who continue to foster heretical statements and undermine the Synod. Who are these? We know them Cardinals, bishops and Tweeting priests. Slap them down. Tell them to pray the Office and stop disturbing the hearts and souls of the Catholic faithful.

Until he does this, this means little.

He has created this mess and he needs to deal with it, as do we.

Anonymous said...

For some reason, Fr did not post my comment. I agree with Vox, this does not mean much. Pastoral practice is where the Church will be undermined. Look for it.

Mark Thomas said...

Blogger Chris Rawlings said..."This was probably one of his clearest expositions of authentic Catholic teaching on marriage. A hopeful start to a painful synod."

Chris, you are on target...it's a hopeful sign.

But His Holiness Pope Francis has time and again delivered teachings and addresses related to traditional Catholic marriage and family life that were just as clear and powerful as today's homily in question.

The problem is that literally from the first seconds of his Pontificate, powerful liberal and conservative/traditional forces within and without the Church have, for their own selfish reasons, attempted to hijack Pope Francis and his actual (not what said forces have spun) words.

News media outlets and, from within the Church, liberals and conservatives/traditionalists have been loathe to report that which the Pope has said.

Father McDonald-permitting, I would like please to follow this post with examples of Pope Francis having time and again repeated the theme from the homily that he delivered today.

Massive attention within and without the Church is focused upon the Synod. Many liberals are hopeful and have lined up to hear Pope Francis issue support for homosexual "marriage" and the reception of Holy Communion by divorced and remarried Catholics.

Many conservatives/Traditionalists have been petrified during the past year that Pope Francis was ready to embrace heresy by throwing in with the above liberal agenda.

Each side, if they've heard/read Pope Francis' sermon today, have realized as to how wrong they've been about the Pope. They have wasted their time during the past two-plus years as they promoted their false narratives in regard to our Holy Father.

All along, each side in question refused to acknowledge the many, many traditional addresses by Pope Francis that contained the message that he delivered today during his sermon.

Thank you.

Pax.

George said...


“Now that we have fully tasted the promises of unlimited freedom, we begin to appreciate once again the old phrase: “world-weariness”. Forbidden pleasures lost their attraction at the very moment they stopped being forbidden. Even if they are pushed to the extreme and endlessly renewed, they prove dull, for they are finite realities, whereas we thirst for the infinite” (Joseph Ratzinger, Auf Christus schauen. Einübung in Glaube, Hoffnung, Liebe, Freiburg, 1989, p. 73).

Marriage, in accordance to God's Divine Will and His munificent design, in its sacramental and covenantal reality, represents and proclaims in its different aspects, as does every Sacrament,both the Temporal and the Eternal, both the Natural and the Supernatural, both the mundane and the Transcendent.

Mark Thomas said...

Pope Francis' beautiful and powerful homily today that promoted the Church's ancient teachings on marriage and family are not new to Pope Francis.

The National Conference of Catholic Bishops has compiled many addresses from Pope Francis that pertained to the Church's unchangeable teachings related to family and marriage...addresses squelched by powerful forces within and without the Church.

http://www.foryourmarriage.org/marriage-resources/news-blogs/pope-francis-corner/

http://www.foryourmarriage.org/category/news/pope-francis-corner/

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

If we search online, at the Vatican's Web site in particular, we will find archives of Pope Francis' Wednesday General Audiences. For many months, His Holiness Pope Francis has focused upon family and marriage during his General Audiences.

Again, what Pope Francis said today during his homily isn't anything new to him.

Example:

https://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/audiences/2015/documents/papa-francesco_20150429_udienza-generale.html

POPE FRANCIS GENERAL AUDIENCE Wednesday, 29 April 2015 A.D. The family - 12. Marriage (I)

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning,

Our reflection on God’s original plan for man and woman as a couple, after having considered the two narratives from the Book of Genesis, now turns directly to Jesus.

At the beginning of his Gospel, John the Evangelist narrates the episode of the wedding at Cana, at which the Virgin Mary and Jesus were present with his first disciples (cf. Jn 2:1-11).

"Jesus not only participated at that wedding, but “saved the feast” with the miracle of wine! Thus, the first of His prodigious signs, with which He reveals his glory, He performed in the context of a wedding, and it was an act of great sympathy for that nascent family, entreated by Mary’s motherly care."

******* "This reminds us of the Book of Genesis, when God completes his work of creation and makes his masterpiece; the masterpiece is man and woman." *******

******* "And here at a marriage, at a wedding feast, Jesus begins his own miracles with this masterpiece: a man and a woman. Thus Jesus teaches us that the masterpiece of society is the family: a man and a woman who love each other! This is the masterpiece!" *******

"Since the time of the wedding at Cana, many things have changed, but that “sign” of Christ contains an ever valid message. Today it seems difficult to speak of marriage as a feast which is renewed in time, in the various seasons of the couple’s lifetime. It is a fact that progressively fewer people are getting married; this is a fact: young people don’t want to get married. In many countries the number of separations is instead increasing while the number of children decreases.

"The difficulty of staying together — both as a couple and as a family — leads to bonds being broken with ever increasing frequency and swiftness, and the children themselves are the first to suffer the consequences. Let us consider that the first victims, the most important victims, the victims who suffer the most in a separation are the children.

******* "Should you feel from childhood that marriage is a “temporary” bond, unconsciously it will be so for you. In fact, many young people are led to reject the very plan of an irrevocable bond and of a lasting family." *******

"The most persuasive testimony of the blessing of Christian marriage is the good life of Christian spouses and of the family. There is no better way to speak of the beauty of the sacrament! A marriage consecrated by God safeguards that bond between man and woman that God has blessed from the very creation of the world; and it is the source of peace and goodness for the entire lifetime of the marriage and family.

"Dear brothers and sisters, do not be afraid to invite Jesus to your wedding feast, to invite Him to our home, that He may be with us and safeguard the family.

"And we mustn’t be afraid to also invite his Mother Mary! When Christians marry “in the Lord”, they are transformed into an effective sign of God’s love.

"Christians do not marry for themselves alone: they marry in the Lord for the good of the entire community, society as a whole."

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Mark Thomas said...

The folks who attempted to spin Pope Francis as a Church-destroying radical who opposed the Church's teachings on family and marriage were routed today via the Pope's sermon at the Mass for the Synod.

But long before today, the Pope had preached the same traditional message as contained in his sermon in question.

Here are "13 Powerful Pope Francis Quotes Defending Marriage and the Family."

http://www.churchpop.com/2015/04/24/13-pope-francis-quotes-marriage-family/

Pax.

Mark Thomas

Anonymous said...

Mark Thomas...Apologies Are Us.

George said...


When a married couple, according to God's plan has a Christian sexual ethos, which is to say one which is spirtually healthy and rightly ordered, then this helps to build up the Body of Christ. It is one which is selfless and not selfish and puts the pleasurable aspect of sex in the proper perspective and does not hold to it as an end in itself. It is seen as the means to a more noble end.

The Church teaches that both the unitive and procreative aspects are necessary and available to what constitutes a marriage which is valid according to God's just design. A Divinely-ordained marriage must be open, as far as the hearts and intentions of the spouses, and in accordance with God's design of the human body, to the generation of new life.

Marriage cannot be predicated on pleasure alone. This is because pleasure is of a lower order, and while a good, if it is sought as an end in itself it will dull and even corrupt one's spiritual life and relationship to God, and so will adversely affect a marriage. Married life must be balanced out by sacrifice and self giving and if it is to endure and develop properly, it must include God.

We partake of food because we enjoy it and it gives pleasure, but its primary purpose is to give sustenance; to keep us alive and healthy. The pleasure we derive from eating cannot be separated from the act of eating itself, because it is necessary to consume food to experience the pleasure that comes from eating it. Likewise, you cannot separate the necessity to consume food from the act of eating ,because if you don’t partake of food, your body will die. Many things in the modern diet are not healthy for our bodies. There are foods that we don’t particularly like that we are willing to (or should) consume anyway because we know they are healthier for us. One could subsist solely on cake and candy for a while, but eventually such a diet would adversely affect the health of the body. Consuming food in this way just for pleasure can be very harmful to us. We must also take in food which is beneficial for our bodies.
Eating has both a necessary aspect and a pleasurable aspect. So it also is with the necessary aspects of Marriage.


Jan said...

The priest who offered the Mass that I attended yesterday summed it up very succinctly. He said for those who question about divorce here you have it from Our Lord's mouth himeself that Moses only allowed it because of the hardness of people's hearts and that marriage between one man and one woman. What God has joined together let no man separate.

His sermon gave me great hope because we have heard nothing like this for years.

Jan

Anonymous said...

Ah, he must be one of those fundamentalist, neo-protestant Priests.

Jan said...

The most surprising thing is he said it in a sermon in an Ordinary Form Mass - how long is he likely to last I wonder? No doubt there will be the usual complaints from some of the laity.

Jan