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Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 17 June 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In the course of our catecheses on the family, today we take direct inspiration from the episode narrated by Luke the Evangelist, which we have just heard (cf. Lk 7:11-15). It is a very moving scene, which shows us Christ’s compassion for those who suffer — in this case a widow who has lost her only child — and it also shows us Jesus’ power over death.

Death is an experience which touches all families, without exception. It is part of life; yet, where familial love is concerned, death never seems natural. For parents, surviving their own children is particularly heartbreaking; it contradicts the fundamental nature of the very relationships that give meaning to the family. The loss of a son or daughter is like time stopping altogether: it opens a chasm that swallows both past and future. Death, which takes away a little child or young person, is a blow to the promises, to the gifts and the sacrifices of love joyfully brought to the life we gave birth to. Frequently parents come to Mass at Santa Marta with the photo of a son, a daughter, a baby, a boy, a girl, and they say to me: “He’s gone, she’s gone”. And their faces are filled with grief. Death touches us and when it is a child’s, it touches us profoundly. The whole family is left paralyzed, speechless. And the child left alone by the loss of one or both parents suffers in a similar way. She asks: “Where is my daddy? Where is my mama? — Well, she is in heaven” — “Why can’t I see her?”. This question covers the agony in the heart of a child left alone. The emptiness of abandonment that opens up in him is made all the more agonizing by the fact that he doesn’t have the life-experience to even “give a name” to what has happened. “When is daddy coming back?” When is mama coming?”. What do you say when a child suffers? This is what death in the family is like.

In these cases, death is like a black whole that opens up in the life of the family and for which we have no explanation. And at times we even go so far as to lay the blame on God. How many people — I understand them — get angry with God, blaspheme: “Why did you take my son, my daughter? There is no God, God does not exist! Why did he do this?”. We hear this so often. But this anger is basically what comes from the heart in great pain; the loss of a son or of a daughter, of a father or of a mother, is a great sorrow. This happens over and over in families. In these cases, I said, death is like a hole. But physical death has “accomplices” even worse than itself, which are called hate, envy, pride, greed; in short, the sin of the world which works for death and makes it even more painful and unjust. Family bonds seem to be the predestined and helpless victims of these helping powers of death, trailing the history of mankind. Let us think of the absurd “normality” with which, at certain moments and in certain places, events adding to the horror of death are provoked by the hatred and indifference of other human beings. May the Lord keep us free from being accustomed to this!

In the People of God, by the grace of his compassion granted in Jesus, many families prove by their deeds that death does not have the last word: this is a true act of faith. Every time a family in mourning — even terrible mourning — finds the strength to guard the faith and love that unite us to those we love, it has already prevented death from taking everything. The darkness of death should be confronted with a more intense work of love. “My God, lighten my darkness!”, is the invocation of evening prayer. In the light of the Resurrection of the Lord, who abandons none of those whom the Father entrusted to him, we can take the “sting” out of death, as the Apostle Paul says (1 Cor 15:55); we can prevent it from poisoning life, from rendering vain our love, from pushing us into the darkest chasm.

In this faith, we can console one another, knowing that the Lord has conquered death once and for all. Our loved ones are not lost in the darkness of nothing: hope assures us that they are in the good and strong hands of God. Love is stronger than death. Thus, the way is to let love grow, make it stronger, and love will guard us until the day that every tear shall be wiped away, when “death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain any more” (Rev 21:4). If we allow ourselves to be sustained by this faith, the experience of grief can generate even stronger family bonds, a new openness to the pain of other families, a new brotherhood with families that are born and reborn in hope. To be born and reborn in hope, this gives us faith. But I would like to stress the last phrase of the Gospel which he heard today (cf. Lk 7:11-15). After Jesus brought the young man, the only son of a widow, back to life, the Gospel says: “Jesus gave him back to his mother”. And this is our hope! All our loved ones who are gone, the Lord will give them back to us and we will be together with them. This hope does not disappoint! Let us remember well this action of Jesus: “And Jesus gave him back to his mother”, thus the Lord will do with all our loved ones in the family!

This faith protects us from the nihilist vision of death, as well as from the false consolations of the world, so that the Christian truth “does not risk mixing itself with myths of various types”, surrendering to superstitions beliefs (Benedict XVI, Angelus, 2 November 2008). Today it is necessary that Pastors and all Christians express in a more concrete way the meaning of the faith in regards to the family experience of grief. We should not deny them the right to weep — we must weep in mourning — “Jesus wept” and was “deeply troubled” by the grave loss of a family that he loved (cf. Jn 11:33-37). We can draw from the simple and strong testimony of the many families who have been able to grasp, in the most arduous transition of death, the safe passage of the Lord, Crucified and Risen, with his irrevocable promise of the resurrection of the dead. God’s work of love is stronger than the work of death. It is of that love, it is precisely of that love, that we must make ourselves hard-working “accomplices”, with our faith! And let us remember Jesus’ deed: “And Jesus gave him back to his mother”, so he will do with all our loved ones and with us when we meet again, when death will be definitively conquered in us. It was conquered by Jesus’ Cross. Jesus will give us all back to the family!"

"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les personnes venues de Belgique et de France.
Je souhaite aujourd’hui me faire particulièrement proche, par la prière, des familles que la mort a douloureusement éprouvées. Qu’elles gardent ferme la foi en la résurrection des morts promise par le Seigneur, et que les secours de la grâce les rendent plus encore unies et solidaires.
Que Dieu vous bénisse !

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare le persone venute da Belgio e Francia. Desidero oggi farmi particolarmente vicino, attraverso la preghiera, alle famiglie che la morte ha dolorosamente messo alla prova. Che esse custodiscano ferma la fede nella risurrezione dei morti promessa dal Signore, e che il soccorso della grazia le renda ancora più unite e solidali.
Che Dio vi benedica!]

I greet the English speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Zambia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Pakistan, Vietnam, Puerto Rico and the United States.  I pray especially for families mourning loved ones.  May the Church’s pastors and communities come to their aid in pray, acts of concrete help, and with tenderness.  Upon all of you and your loved ones, I invoke the Lord Jesus’ abundant blessings of peace and joy.  May God bless you all!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presente all’Udienza oggi, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Scozia, Zambia, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Giappone, Pakistan, Vietnam, Porto Rico e Stati Uniti.  In particolare prego per le famiglie che sono in lutto.  Che i pastori e tutte le comunità cristiane le sostengano con le preghiere, l’aiuto concreto e la tenerezza.  Su tutti voi e sui vostri familiari invoco benedizioni abbondanti di pace e di gioia nel Signore Gesù. Dio vi benedica!]

Ein herzliches Willkommen den Pilgern und Besuchern deutscher Sprache. Besonders grüße ich die Schülerinnen des Bischöflichen Mädchengymnasiums Münster und den Studenten der Emmanuel School of Mission in Altötting. Als echte Jünger Jesu wollen wir ihn nachahmen und mit unserem Mitgefühl die Menschen in Not aufnehmen. Der Heilige Geist begleite euch auf all euren Wegen.

[Un cordiale benvenuto do ai pellegrini di lingua tedesca. In particolare saluto le alunne del Bischöfliches Mädchen-Gymnasium di Münster e gli studenti dell’Emmanuel School of Mission di Altötting. Come veri discepoli di Cristo vogliamo imitarLo accogliendo con la nostra compassione quelli che sono nella necessità. Lo Spirito Santo vi accompagni sul vostro cammino.]

Saludo cordialmente a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los venidos de España y Latinoamérica. Pidamos a buen Pastor que nos acompañe en el momento de la última soledad, que él ya ha atravesado y conoce bien el paso oscuro de esta vida a la otra, a la gloria. Muchas gracias.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare quelli provenienti da Spagna e America latina . Chiediamo al Buon Pastore di accompagnarci nel momento dell’ultima solitudine, che egli conosce bene avendo già attraversato il passaggio oscuro da questa vita all’altra, alla gloria. Grazie mille.]

Queridos peregrinos de língua portuguesa, particularmente os membros do Movimento de Reintegração das Pessoas Atingidas pela Hanseníase e do Instituto Dom Helder Câmara: sejam bem-vindos! Faço votos de que nos seus corações reine a certeza de que o amor misericordioso do Pai celeste não esquece ninguém e se revela especialmente próximo daqueles que são deixados para trás pela cultura do descarte. Que Deus abençoe a cada um de vocês e quantos lhes são queridos.

[Cari pellegrini di lingua portoghese, in particolare i membri del Movimento de Reintegração das Pessoas Atingidas pela Hanseníase e dell’Instituto Dom Helder Câmara: benvenuti! Vi auguro che nei vostri cuori vi sia la certezza che l’amore misericordioso del Padre celeste non dimentica nessuno e si rivela vicino specialmente a quanti sono lasciati indietro dalla cultura dello scarto. Dio benedica ciascuno di voi e quanti vi sono cari.]

أرحب بالحجاج الناطقين باللغة العربية، وخاصة بالقادمين من ‎سوريا ومن ‎الشرق الأوسط. عندما يموت أحد الأبناء في أسرة فإن قلوب الآباء والأمهات تنكسر، وتتوشح الأسرة بسواد ‏ الحزن والشك الثقيل. لكن القوة الوحيدة القادرة على الانتصار على الموت، بل وتحويله إلى ‏ قيامة، هي الإيمان بالذي انتصر على الموت؛ هي الثقة في المسيح الذي قال: "أَنا القِيامةُ والحَياة مَن آمَنَ بي، وَإن ماتَ، فسَيَحْيا"(يو 11، 25)؛ هي الرجاء الذي يجعلنا ننظر إلى الموت كعبور من هذه ‏ الحياة الفانية إلى حياة الله الأبدية. ليعز الرب كل القلوب الحزينة ويبارككم جميعا!‏

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dalla Siria e dal Medio Oriente! Quando in famiglia muore uno dei figli il cuore dei genitori si spezza e la famiglia si riveste della pesante coltre della tristezza e del dubbio. Ma l’unica forza capace di vincere la morte, e di trasformarla in risurrezione, è la fede in Colui che ha vinto la morte; è la fiducia in Cristo che ha detto: “Io sono la risurrezione e la vita; chi crede in me, anche se muore, vivrà” (Gv 11,25); è la speranza che ci fa considerare la morte un esodo da una vita terrena alla vita eterna di Dio. Il Signore consoli i cuori affranti e vi benedica tutti!]

Witam przybyłych na audiencję pielgrzymów polskich. Dzisiaj przypada wspomnienie świętego Brata Alberta Chmielowskiego. Pamiętając o jego poświęceniu na rzecz biednych, bezdomnych, nieuleczalnie chorych, jak on otwórzmy serca na potrzeby naszych braci najbardziej potrzebujących pomocy.  Uczmy się od niego, jak służyć Chrystusowi w ubogich, jak „być dobrym dla innych jak chleb”. Naśladujmy go w dążeniu do świętości. Niech będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini polacchi. Oggi si celebra la memoria di Sant’Alberto Chmielowski. Ricordando la sua dedizione ai poveri, ai senza tetto, ai malati incurabili, apriamo come lui i nostri cuori alle necessità dei nostri fratelli più bisognosi. Impariamo da lui a servire Cristo nei poveri e a “essere buoni per gli altri come il pane”. Imitiamolo nel tendere alla santità. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo.]


Domani, come sapete, sarà pubblicata l’Enciclica sulla cura della “casa comune” che è il creato. Questa nostra “casa” si sta rovinando e ciò danneggia tutti, specialmente i più poveri. Il mio è dunque un appello alla responsabilità, in base al compito che Dio ha dato all’essere umano nella creazione: “coltivare e custodire” il “giardino” in cui lo ha posto (cfr Gen 2,15). Invito tutti ad accogliere con animo aperto questo Documento, che si pone nella linea della dottrina sociale della Chiesa.

Sabato prossimo ricorre la Giornata Mondiale del Rifugiato, promossa dalle Nazioni Unite. Preghiamo per tanti fratelli e sorelle che cercano rifugio lontano dalla loro terra, che cercano una casa dove poter vivere senza timore, perché siano sempre rispettati nella loro dignità. Incoraggio l’opera di quanti portano loro un aiuto e auspico che la comunità internazionale agisca in maniera concorde ed efficace per prevenire le cause delle migrazioni forzate. E vi invito tutti a chiedere perdono per le persone e le istituzioni che chiudono la porta a questa gente che cerca una famiglia, che cerca di essere custodita.

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana. In particolare, saluto i sacerdoti novelli della Diocesi di Brescia, le Suore Francescane Angeline con l’Associazione Amici di Madre Chiara e i cresimati di Ozieri con le loro famiglie. Vi invito tutti a perseverare nei rispettivi impegni, diffondendo attorno a voi la serenità e la consolazione cristiana, specialmente alle famiglie provate dal dolore e dal lutto. Sia la preghiera la vostra forza e il vostro quotidiano sostegno.

Un pensiero speciale porgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. È ancora viva in noi l’eco della Solennità del Sacratissimo Cuore di Gesù. Cari giovani, trovate in quel Cuore il nutrimento della vostra vita spirituale e la fonte della vostra speranza;  cari ammalati, offrite la vostra sofferenza al Signore, perché continui ad estendere il suo amore nel cuore degli uomini; e voi, cari sposi novelli, nel cammino che avete intrapreso accostatevi all’Eucarestia, perché nutriti di Cristo siate famiglie cristiane toccate dall’amore del Cuore di Gesù.."

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