Pope Francis has agreed with a recommendation by the Dicastery for Laity, the Family and…
Editorial: 5 ways to enter into the World Meeting of Families even without attending
Seven years ago this fall, the United States played host to the eighth World Meeting of Families. Held in Philadelphia, the weeklong celebration of “the family fully alive” wrapped up with an outdoor Mass celebrated by Pope Francis.
At that Mass, a record-breaking event celebrated on Benjamin Franklin Parkway, the pontiff reminded those gathered of the unique way that families cultivate love. “Love is shown by little things, by attention to small daily signs which make us feel at home,” he said. “Faith grows when it is lived and shaped by love. That is why our families, our homes, are true domestic churches. They are the right place for faith to become life, and life to grow in faith.”
From that week, countless families were sent forth with great jubilation, remembering that love was their mission. It was an uplifting and joyful event — one that united and encouraged Catholic families from around the country.
Next month, the 10th World Meeting of Families is scheduled to take place in Rome (the ninth having been held in Dublin in 2018). Happening a year later than planned because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the event in Rome is open to invited guests only, for the same reason. But we should not let distance nor pandemic restrictions discourage us from celebrating and strengthening our families. Here are five ways to enter into the World Meeting of Families even without attending.
1. Look for (or, if you’re a diocese, host) an event locally. Because the World Meeting of Families in Rome is invite-only, dioceses around the world were encouraged by the Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life to hold individual celebrations. They even provided a packet of resources with logos, catecheses, a prayer and music. Attend a talk or a Mass with your family, and discuss what you observed and learned together.
2. Make a pilgrimage. If your diocese is not hosting a local event for the World Meeting of Families, consider packing up the family for a daytrip to a holy place nearby. While there, leave your smartphones in the car, and give your family your undivided attention. Give thanks to God for the gift of your loved ones. Stop for a special dinner or an ice cream treat on the way home.
3. Explore faith-based, family-strengthening resources. For parents, these two titles are helpful at navigating all the challenging moments of child development: “Parenting Your Kids with Grace (Birth to Age 10)” (OSV, $15.95) and “Parenting Your Teens and Tweens with Grace (Ages 11 to 18)” (OSV, $15.95). For kids, a subscription to OSV Kids magazine is a wonderful way to engage with the Faith at an early age. And, as we wrap up the year “Amoris Laetitia Family,” Pope Francis’ apostolic exhortation is a prime resource for continued reflection.
4. Pray a daily family Rosary. Father Patrick Peyton, the famous Rosary Priest, coined the now-familiar phase, “the family that prays together, stays together.” Never more have we needed strong, united, faith-filled families. Praying the Rosary daily is also what Our Lady asked of us when she appeared at Fatima in 1917. In doing so, she said, we will obtain peace for the world, including our families. Do not underestimate the power of the Rosary!
5. If you don’t have one already, prayerfully select a patron saint for your family. Maybe it’s St. Joseph, St. Margaret of Scotland, St. Gianna Beretta Molla, Sts. Louis and Zélie Martin or St. John Paul II. Or it could be the Holy Family itself. Whomever the Holy Spirit sends your way, learn more about him or her, and begin asking for his or her intercession every day. The Church is filled with holy men and women who were exemplars of loving and faith-filled family life. Turn to them and ask them to intercede for you to the Father for peace and love to reign in your home.
The regular World Meeting of Families gatherings are great reminders that our society today is in desperate need of loving and God-centric families. Though most of us might not be able to gather together in Rome next month, don’t miss out on an opportunity to strengthen your domestic church right here at home.
Our Sunday Visitor Editorial Board: Gretchen R. Crowe, Scott P. Richert, Scott Warden, York Young