The seventh World Meeting of Families, an international event organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family, was held May 30 to June 3 in Milan, Italy. Pope Benedict XVI delivered the homily at the meeting’s closing mass on Sunday, June 3, the Solemnity of the Most Holy Trinity. In his words, the Pope reflected on the nature and mission of marriage and the family, with a particular emphasis on the meeting’s themes of work and celebration.
After calling to mind the Trinitarian nature of the family, the Holy Father highlighted the importance of sexual difference in marriage:
“God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life.”
He then reflected on the multi-faceted fruitfulness of married love:
“Dear married couples,…your love is fruitful first and foremost for yourselves, because you desire and accomplish one another’s good, you experience the joy of receiving and giving. It is also fruitful in your generous and responsible procreation of children, in your attentive care for them, and in their vigilant and wise education. And lastly, it is fruitful for society, because family life is the first and irreplaceable school of social virtues, such as respect for persons, gratuitousness, trust, responsibility, solidarity, cooperation” (emphasis added).
The Holy Father also commented on the sacramental nature of marriage, noting that “by means of a special gift of the Holy Spirit, Christ gives you [married couples] a share in his spousal love, making you a sign of his faithful and all-embracing love for the Church.”
In respect to the meeting’s theme of “Family: Work and Celebration,” Pope Benedict encouraged the families present to recognize and accept their task of collaborating with God in the transformation of the world through work, science, and technology. At the same time, he exhorted everyone to take seriously the call to rest and celebration:
“Dear families, despite the relentless rhythms of the modern world, do not lose a sense of the Lord’s Day! It is like an oasis in which to pause, so as to taste the joy of encounter and to quench our thirst for God.”
The next World Meeting of Families, in 2015, will be held in Philadelphia.
Watch the closing mass on Vatican TV. (Select audio_eng to hear it in English.)