What a graced time for the Catholic Church and, indeed, all Americans, to have Pope Benedict XVI with us during the Easter season! His message of turning to Christ our hope is simple and yet so profound. In his comments at Vespers with the U.S. Bishops, the Holy Father said “People need to . . . cultivate a relationship with him who came that we might have life in abundance (cf. Jn 10:10).” As applied to marriage and the family, the Holy Father’s message could not be more relevant.
The Holy Father told the bishops that he was delighted that they have made the strengthening of marriage and the family one of their priorities in the next few years. The risen Lord Jesus should stand at the center of spousal and familial love. The Holy Father said that it is in the family that we experience “some of the fundamental elements of peace: justice and love.” “Mutual help in the necessities of life” are offered by family members to each other. “Readiness to accept others and, if necessary, to forgive” are essential marks of family life.
In addition, Pope Benedict XVI noted that children “deserve to grow up with a healthy understanding of sexuality and its proper place in human relationships.” Where else, but in the family, taught by their loving parents, can children learn this? But, the Holy Father warned, it is useless to “speak of child protection when pornography and violence can be viewed in so many homes.” Parents need to create a home life that is free of such false and destructive messages.
If we care “about young people and the future of our civilization,” said the Holy Father, then we must recognize “our responsibility to promote and live by the authentic moral values which alone enable the human person to flourish.” Empowered by Christ our hope, it is the unique responsibility of parents to firmly plant and nurture those moral values in their homes.
The “proclamation of . . . life in abundance,” said the Holy Father, “must be the heart of the new evangelization.” In the end, these are God’s gifts to us. My hope is that we will take these gifts into our families, and with Christ as our Lord, allow them to transform us and in turn, our world!
Theresa Notare, MA
Assistant Director, Natural Family Planning Program
Secretariat for Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth