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ANGELUS: 27 DECEMBER 1987

The holiness of the family

On the Sunday following the feast of Christmas the Holy Father prayed the Angelus with the faithful gathered in the courtyard of his residence in Castel Gandolfo; before leading the prayer he gave the following reflection:


Dear Brothers and Sisters,

1. This Sunday, which comes soon after the Solemnity of Christmas, is dedicated by the Church to celebrate the Holy Family. Having concentrated our attention in recent days on the mystery of the Son of God who became a child for the salvation of all, we are invited to meditate on that cradle of love and acceptance known as the family.

The official title of the liturgical feast is "the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph". The title alone expresses the entire sublime reality of a human-divine fact, presenting to our eyes a model to reproduce in our life, so that every family, especially Christian ones, would be committed to realize in themselves that harmony, integrity, peace, and love which were the wondrous prerogatives of the Family of Nazareth.

2. The holiness of the family is the chief way and the necessary path to construct a new and better society, and restore hope for the future to a world oppressed by so many threats. Therefore, may Christian families of today be able to learn in the school of the Holy Family, that center of love and limitless giving. The Son of God became small and like all those born of woman he received a mother's continual care. Mary, ever a virgin, daily dedicated her own life to the sublime mission of motherhood, and for this also all nations today call her blessed. Joseph, appointed to protect the mystery of the divine sonship of Jesus and the virginal motherhood of Mary, fulfilled his role conscientiously in silence and obedience to the divine will. What a school! What a mystery!

3. The Son of God came to earth to save every human being, transforming him profoundly from within, to make him like himself, Son of the heavenly Father. In the fulfillment of that task, he lived the greater part of his earthly existence in the bosom of a family, in order to make us understand the irreplaceable importance of this basic cell of society, which virtually contains the entire organism.

The family is of itself sacred because human life is sacred, and it is only within the aspect of the family institution that it can be generated, developed and reach perfection in a manner consonant with human dignity, Tomorrow's society will be what today's family is.

Unfortunately, at present, it is subject to all types of dangers from those who seek to destroy its fabric and to menace its natural and supernatural unity, undermining the moral values on which it is founded with all the means which the permissiveness of modern society places at their disposal, especially the mass media, and negating the essential principle of respect for the sacredness of every human life from the first moment of its existence. We must rediscover the living meaning of the human and Christian prerogative of the family and its undeniable function: to be a community profoundly united in love so as to offer the new life a warm and secure nest in which the new human being can be taught to esteem himself and others, to recognize true values, and to know and love the heavenly Father, "from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named" (Eph 3:15).

Dear brothers and sisters, let us pray to Jesus, Mary and Joseph that everywhere the unequalled gift of the sanctity of the family will be reborn.


Teachings of the Magisterium on Abortion

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