By Robin Gomes
The theme chosen by Pope Francis for the 10th World Meeting of the Families (WMOF) is, “Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness”, which has been the inspiration of the official prayer for the ecclesial event.
Praying with family, parish, diocese
“Praying is a way to enter into the heart of the Amoris Laetitia Year and the preparation for the event in Rome,” explained Cardinal Joseph Kevin Farrell, Prefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family, in a statement to release the prayer. “Many families and communities,” he said, “have been waiting a long time to be able to set out on their way, at least spiritually, to Rome.” “Prayer will accompany them and help them to grasp the message of the gathering.”
Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, the Vicar of Rome Diocese, of which the Pope is the Bishop, explained that “prayer will be at the heart of the path of preparation”. “It will guide our work and inspire the reflections to help us, in the light of faith, to discern the new challenges that the pandemic emergency poses to the ecclesial community with regard to families.” He thus invited “everyone to prepare for this event of grace that the Church of Rome has the joy of hosting, and to address this prayer to the Lord in the intimacy of their family, together with the parish and diocesan community.”
The WMOF tradition was begun by Saint Pope John Paul II in 1994 when the United Nations declared that year as “International Year of the Family”. Hence, the 1st WMOF was held that year in Rome, October 8 and 9.
Since then, every three years, in different places around the world, a World Meeting of Families has been held, together with an International Pastoral-Theological Congress. It concludes with a Festival of Families in the presence of the Pope and a great final Eucharistic Celebration.
The 10th WMOF had originally been scheduled for June 2021, but because of the pandemic, Pope Francis, together with the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life, decided to postpone to June, next year. A few other Church events have also been postponed.
As this World Meeting of Families (WMOF) had been scheduled to fall on the fifth anniversary of Pope Francis’ 2016 post-synodal apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, on the pastoral care of the family, next year’s meeting will reflect on the spirituality of the family in light of the call to holiness as expressed in his 2018 apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate.
Family, vocation, holiness
A statement by Rome Diocese and the Dicastery explained that the prayer, entitled, “Family Love: Vocation and Path to Holiness”, “springs from deep gratitude to our Heavenly Father for the great gift of family, a very special place for loving relationships”. It is “intended to be a pastoral tool: it can be prayed from now on in parishes, in communities, at home, to help with preparation for the next year's international event.”
Cardinal Farrell pointed out, “It is from the love experienced in family life that the vocation of every child is born”. “It is love savoured within the domestic walls that traces the first steps on the path to holiness.” An experience of prayer introduces us to the deeper liberating meaning of relationships in daily life. The binomials of family and vocation together with family and holiness show us how family relationships are of fundamental importance in the generation of love.
Amidst the trials, difficulties, challenges and difficulties of life today, it might “seem somewhat out of touch or inappropriate to talk about family holiness,” the cardinal noted. Herein comes the importance of prayer in living the sacrament of marriage to the full. He said a relationship with God enables Christian couples every day to rekindle the Grace they have received, and this sustains them in their daily tasks and struggles.
Our life can always be a path to personal, family and couple holiness, a way to grow in love for others. All members of the family including children, young people, parents and grandparents, the cardinal said, are called to discover in themselves a call to holiness.
Cardinal De Donatis also underscored the point and invited Christian couples to walk their path of holiness together, following in the footsteps of illustrious saints and beatified couples and sustained by their intercession. He held up examples such as the parents of St Thérèse of Lisieux or the Beltrame Quattrocchi couple, who accepted life’s painful trials and saw the faithful presence of Christ in the story of their love.
Below is the text of the official prayer for the X World Meeting of Families, 22-26 June 2022:
Family Love: Vocation and Path to Holiness
We come before You to praise You
and to thank You for the great gift of the family.
We pray to You for all families
consecrated by the Sacrament of Matrimony.
May they rediscover each day
the grace they have received,
and as small domestic Churches,
may they know how to witness to Your presence
and to the love with which Christ loves the Church.
We pray to You for all families faced with difficulty and suffering
caused by illness or circumstances of which only You know.
Sustain them and make them aware
of the path to holiness upon which You call them,
so that they might experience Your infinite mercy
and find new ways to grow in love.
We pray to You for children and young people:
may they encounter You and respond joyfully
to the vocation You have in mind for them;
We pray for parents and grandparents: may they be aware
that they are signs of the fatherhood and motherhood of God
in caring for the children who, in body and spirit, You entrust to them;
and for the experience of fraternity
that the family can give to the world
Lord, grant that each family
might live their specific vocation to holiness in the Church
as a call to become missionary disciples,
in the service of life and peace,
in communion with our priests, religious,
and all vocations in the Church.
Bless the World Meeting of Families.