Secular Franciscan Order

Ordo Franciscanus Sæcularis

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Ordo Franciscanus Saecularis
Consilium Internationale

Silvia Diana OFS




94. During this assembly, we synod fathers, gathered around Pope Francis, experienced the tenderness and the prayer of the whole Church, we walked like the disciples of Emmaus and recognized the presence of Christ in the breaking of bread at the Eucharistic table, in fellowship and the sharing of pastoral experiences. We hope that the result of this work, now delivered into the hands of the Successor of Peter, might give hope and joy to many families in the world, guidance to pastors and pastoral workers, and a stimulus to the work of evangelization. In concluding this report, we humbly ask the Holy Father to consider the possibility of issuing a document on the family, so that the family, the domestic Church, might increasingly radiate Christ, who is the light of the world.

In the concluding document, our pastors reminded us of the sharing of bread around the table. We are thankful for this time that we shared on the formation of the family from the document and the Exhortation Amoris Laeticia. During the next two years, while we serve our order as the Family Commission, we will continue reflecting together on different topics on the family.
As a result of the Synod of the Family, we developed and shared this document with 94 points in which there are dozens of proposals. There is no condemnation but a message of hope for those who decide to start a family, and those who are facing obstacles on that path. We encourage our families to seek pastoral accompaniment, and the commitment of all, to continue working for this valuable asset (the family) so sacred to us, sharing the reality of our struggles, difficulties, hopes and dreams.

Let us read together:

St. John Paul II exhorted, “Family, Be what you are!” and his words have not lost their absolute enegy. Their importance has only intensified in the face of the many challenges that families are experiencing today. John Paul's understanding was that the mission of the family emanates from its identity in God's plan. "And since, according to the divine plan, it is constituted as an 'intimate [conjugal] community of life and love,’ the family has the mission to be more and more what it is, that is, a community of life and love, in a tension that ... will find its fulfillment in the Kingdom of God.” According to the words of John Paul II, the fundamental mission of the family is therefore to "guard, reveal and communicate love,” a mission that is "a living reflection and real participation in God's love for humanity and the love of our Lord, Christ, for the Church, his spouse." When the family accepts its missionary identity, it becomes what it should always have been." (Love is our mission. The family fully alive. 197. World Meeting of the Family, Philadelphia, 2015).

Led by the Spirit, the family circle is not only open to life by generating it within itself, but also by going forth and spreading life by caring for others and seeking their happiness. This openness finds particular expression in hospitality, 389 which the word of God eloquently encourages: “Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained angels unawares (Heb 13:2).” When a family is welcoming and reaches out to others, especially the poor and the neglected, it is “a symbol, witness and participant in the Church’s motherhood.” 390 Social love, as a reflection of the Trinity, is what truly unifies the spiritual meaning of the family and its mission to others, for it makes present the kerygma in all its communal imperatives. The family lives its spirituality precisely by being at one and the same time a domestic church and a vital cell for transforming the world. 324 Exhortations Amoris-Laetitia

The teaching of the Master (cf. Mt 22:30) and Saint Paul (cf. 1 Cor 7:29-31) on marriage is set – and not by chance – in the context of the ultimate and definitive dimension of our human existence. We urgently need to rediscover the richness of this teaching. By heeding it, married couples will come to see the deeper meaning of their journey through life. As this Exhortation has often noted, no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed; families need to constantly grow and mature in the ability to love. This is a never- ending vocation born of the full communion of the Trinity, the profound unity between Christ and his Church, the loving community which is the Holy Family of Nazareth, and the pure fraternity existing among the saints of heaven.

Our contemplation of the fulfilment which we have yet to attain also allows us to see in proper perspective the historical journey which we make as families, and in this way to stop demanding of our interpersonal relationships a perfection, a purity of intentions and a consistency which we will only encounter in the Kingdom to come. It also keeps us from judging harshly those who live in situations of frailty. All of us are called to keep striving towards something greater than ourselves and our families, and every family must feel this constant impulse. Let us make this journey as families, let us keep walking together. What we have been promised is greater than we can imagine. May we never lose heart because of our limitations, or ever stop seeking that fullness of love and communion which God holds out before us. 325 Exhortations Amoris-Laetitia

In fraternity, let us ask each other and share:

❖ What is our mission, as families who live the charism of St. Francis, in the world today?
❖ What do we need (to do) as family to transform the world today?

We close praying together: THE PRAYER OF THE HOLY FAMILY

Translation: Mary Stronach OFS


June 2018