Sunday, 3 November 2013

A&B Group in Rome with Pope for Pilgrimage of the Families

“Holy Family of Nazareth reawaken in our society the awareness of the sacred and inviolable character of the family, an inestimable and irreplaceable good….”

Pope Francis and Cardinal Paglia with children of the pilgrimage
These were Pope Francis’ concluding words that encapsulated the theme of the inaugural pilgrimage of families to the tomb of St Peter. Tens of thousands of people, from across the world, gathered during the weekend of October 26th and 27th in response to the Pope’s call to come together on pilgrimage. Amongst them were a group from England and Wales representing the Catholic Grandparents’ Association including several from Arundel & Brighton Diocese.

Saturday’s event was extraordinary in its informality. Helium balloons waving in the air greeted the pope on his arrival and gymnasts and acrobats entertained us.

A variety of families were introduced to the Pope; Young engaged couples came forward to explain how they longed for their marriage and the start of their families. A couple who had been married for 50 years came forward with their children and grandchildren, they said the secret to a good marriage was to say yes to each other and to put their marriage first. A young Syrian refugee spoke to share his belief that politicians won't solve the problems of war; he said we need to pray for peace and he thanked all the families of the world for praying for peace in Syria.

The atmosphere was one of a happy family party as children moved freely around the top of the steps hugging the Holy Father and holding his hand.

Everyone joined together to make a profession of faith and the balloons were released into the sky; a very visual statement of the joy and faith of the people gathered.

In his address Pope Francis said “The life of a family is filled with beautiful moments: rest, meals together, walks in the park or the countryside, visits to grandparents or to a sick person… But if love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus always gives us that love: he is its endless source and he gives himself to us in the Eucharist. There he gives us his word and the bread of life, so that our joy may be complete.”

The Pope reflected on the icon of Jesus’ Presentation in the Temple, He highlighted that it depicts three generations that come together to fulfil a single mission: the elderly persons represent faith as memory, they have the wisdom and he reminded us of his affection for his own grandmother. Mary and Joseph are the family, their lives enriched by the person of Jesus.

He stated firmly that there are three words every relationship needed; Please, Thank you and Sorry. He stressed that these needed to be said everyday and accepted with a good heart. He acknowledged that life is not easy and we all have problems in our relationships but insisted that if we used these phrases well we would be at peace with each other and could continue to grow in love.
He concluded that the Lord is the fountain of all love and if you are short of love, His love and love for another, then your lives are poorer.

The crowds gathered again for Mass on Sunday and the Pope repeated his theme of the importance of families. He said “Dear families, you know very well that the true joy which we experience in the family is not superficial; it does not come from material objects, from the fact that everything seems to be going well... True joy comes from a profound harmony between persons, something which we all feel in our hearts and which makes us experience the beauty of togetherness, of mutual support along life’s journey. But the basis of this feeling of deep joy is the presence of God in the family and his love, which is welcoming, merciful, and respectful towards all. God alone knows how to create harmony from differences. But if God’s love is lacking, the family loses its harmony, self-centredness prevails and joy fades. But the family which experiences the joy of faith communicates it naturally. That family is the salt of the earth and the light of the world; it is the leaven of society.” Full texts of the pope’s speeches can be found at

His recognition of the importance of the family has resulted in him calling an extraordinary synod in October 2014. Everyone is invited to participate in putting forward their views by going to

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