Vatican City, Sep 11, 2021 / 06:00 am (CNA).
Pope Francis encouraged families to be united in prayer, open to life, and charitable to the poor in a message ahead of the 2022 World Meeting of Families in Rome.
“Dear friends, the family is alive if it finds itself united in prayer. The family is strong, if it rediscovers the Word of God and the providential value of all his promises,” the pope said in the message released Sept. 11.
“The family is generous and builds history if it remains open to life, if it does not discriminate and serves the most vulnerable and the most in need, if it does not stop offering the world the bread of charity and the wine of fraternity.”
The pope sent the message to Catholic families participating in a pilgrimage taking place this weekend in 20 Marian shrines around Italy and Switzerland.
“The thousands of families in prayer today show the luminous face of faith in Jesus Christ in a time crushed by so many difficulties, sufferings, and new poverty,” Pope Francis said.
He encouraged Catholic families to “go out to meet as many people as possible” and to become living witnesses of the “amoris laetitia,” or the “joy of love,” that flows from the Gospel.
The 14th National Pilgrimage of Families in Italy was organized by the Italian bishops’ conference, the National Forum of Family Associations, and the Renewal in the Holy Spirit movement in preparation for the 10th World Meeting of Families.
The World Meeting of Families is an international Catholic gathering that typically takes place every three years. It was originally scheduled for 2021, but was postponed to June 22-26, 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic.
It will be the third time that Rome has hosted the event. The first World Meeting of Families took place in Rome in 1994 at the behest of St. John Paul II. It was also held in the Eternal City in the year 2000. The most recent gathering was in Dublin, Ireland in 2018.
In the papal message, which was signed Sept. 9, the pope asked Catholic families to pray the official prayer of the World Meeting of Families in the months ahead of the event.
“Heavenly Father, We come before You to praise You and to thank You for the great gift of the family,” the prayer begins.
“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.”