END-OF-YEAR ANGELUS AT CASTEL GANDOLFO
The family in the service of life
On Sunday, 28 December 1980, the Holy Father delivered the following address
at the Pontifical Palace, Castel Gandolfo, before the recitation of the Angelus.
1. When, on Christmas day, we go in spirit to Bethlehem, to the place where
the Word became flesh (cf. Jn 1:14), we have before the eyes of our faith the
inscrutable mystery of God become Incarnate for us men and for our Salvation. At
the same time, this mystery takes on the form well-known to us, of a Family: of
a human family. In that night, in fact, during which the Virgin Mary, the wife,
before God and men, of Joseph, the carpenter of Nazareth, gave birth to Jesus by
the power of the Holy Spirit, this family was revealed. Today the Church
dutifully venerates it, for we are on the Sunday during the Octave of Christmas,
which is dedicated to the Holy Family.
By means of this holy, most holy, family of Bethlehem and Nazareth, of which
the true Son of Eternal God, Christ, became the son, the Church today thinks of
every family, addresses each one, and prays for each one. This takes on special
topicality in that we are in the year of that Synod of Bishops which was
dedicated to the role of the Christian family in the modern world.
2. This feast is at the same time the Day of the Family because the "Holy
Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph" is a model of life for every man, for every
Christian, for every family community. "The more Christian the family becomes,
the more human it becomes", the Synod Fathers said (Message of the Synod
Fathers, n. 12). Just as the Holy Family of Nazareth was a very special place of
love, the truly exceptional atmosphere in which there reigned mutual respect for
each individual person and for his vocation, and also the first school in which
the Christian message was lived intensely, so the Christian and human family is,
and must be, a community of love and life; for these are its fundamental values.
Right from its preparatory stage but above all in its development, the recent
Synod of Bishops has helped to arouse a deeper awareness of the great importance
and mission which the Christian family has in the delicate situation of the
world today. The Synod has meditated again on God's Plan for the family; in the
light of God's project, it emphasized the grandeur and the irreplaceability of
the role of the family in the service of life, in order to form free and
responsible men, as the "domestic Church" open to others and as the original
cell, with its own rights and duties with regard to society.
At the conclusion of the Synod, the Bishops who were present sent a "Message
to Christian Families in the Modern World". They formulated forty-three
propositions, which they laid in the Pope's hands so that he may cause them to
bear fruit for the whole Church. All the riches of the recent Synod must now be
spread for benefit of families and of society.
While several Episcopal Conferences and many individual Bishops, Priests and
committed laymen, are intensifying their work and their dialogue with families,
the Pope has very willingly met the general desire of the Bishops and is about
to prepare a document.
On his day, dedicated to the Holy Family of Nazareth, I call upon all to
reflect, live and become aware of what God, the Church, society and the whole of
mankind expect from the family.
For this reason I invite you also to join in the prayer I composed for the
recent Synod of Bishops, which I will now recite together with you, for your
families and for families throughout the whole world:
Lord God, from you every family in heaven and on earth takes its name.
Father, you are Love and Life. Through your Son, Jesus Christ, born of woman and
through the Holy Spirit, fountain of divine charity, grant that every family on
earth may become for each successive generation a true shrine of life and love.
Grant that your grace may guide the thoughts and actions of husbands and wives
for the good of their families and of all the families in the world. Grant that
the young may find in the family solid support for their human dignity and for
their growth in truth and love. Grant that love, strengthened by the grace of
the sacrament of marriage, may prove mightier than all the weaknesses and trials
through which our families sometimes pass. Through the intercession of the Holy
Family of Nazareth, grant that the Church may fruitfully carry out her worldwide
mission in the family and through the family. We ask this of you, who are Life,
Truth, and Love, with the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.
other Papal Writings and Speeches]