Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
We are saddened by the passing of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, a man who had a profound impact on the Catholic Church as a guiding force in this century. His exceptional intellectual contributions, rooted in the theology of the Church Fathers, particularly Saint Augustine, will continue to inspire and educate us. In a world where contemporary culture often promotes destruction and division, Pope Benedict XVI stood steadfast as a defender of the Word of God and its radiant truth.
As we bid farewell to the year 2022 and celebrate the Feast of the Holy Family, we are reminded of the enduring love and devotion within the family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. This special occasion encourages us to strive for similar unity and holiness in our own families. Following the celebration of the birth of our Lord, we conclude this year with this tribute to his Holy Family and Pope Benedict XVI.
On his Angelus of December 31, 2006, Pope Benedict XVI reflected on the significance of God's decision to be born and grow up in a human family, noting that it consecrates the family as a sacred institution that reflects God's love and care for us. The family is not just a social or cultural construct, but a place where we can learn to love and care for one another. The Pope also emphasized the importance of marriage as a lifelong commitment between a man and a woman and the vital role of the family in raising children in a loving and nurturing environment and in fostering their spiritual growth.
"The family is the place where we learn to be human and to become more like Christ. It is the place where we learn to love and to be loved, and where we learn to forgive and to be forgiven." (Address to the General Assembly of the United Nations, 2008)
As we approach the end of the year, it is a fitting time for reflection on our personal responsibilities and the critical role that the family plays in shaping the spiritual lives of our children and the future of the Church. Let us take a moment to consider the ways in which we can fulfill our duties as members of the family and contribute to the growth and development of future generations of believers.
As St. John Vianney said in the 19th century, "The reason our times are so irreligious is on account of un-Christian families." This statement is even more true today than it was then. Tomorrow's priests, bishops, and religious leaders will come from today's families. If we want to change the world and create a more religious society, we must have holy families and raise our children in holiness.
But how do we do this? For St. John Vianney, obedience and humility are the keys to restoring Christian order in the lives of families. These virtues may not be popular in our world today, but they are essential for living a life of faith. Obedience and humility are not signs of weakness, but signs of great strength - the strength to conquer our prideful and unruly nature. We need to stop listening to the world and start listening to God in this new year. We need to be true to our vocations, to our roles as fathers, mothers, children, etc.
As we strive to raise our children in holiness and create Christian families, let us turn to the Holy Family for guidance and inspiration. Jesus, God the son, subjected himself to Mary and Joseph, the creator to his creatures. Mary, the immaculate conception, subjected herself to Joseph, a man conceived with sin. Let us pray for the grace to be obedient and humble, just as Jesus, Mary, and Joseph were, to not ignore the Holy Will of God out of pride and to have the strength and courage to pass on these virtues to our children and to the next generation of believers. Let us also remember to pray for the soul of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI and for his peaceful rest in the presence of God. May his life and teachings continue to inspire and guide us as we strive to live out our faith and fulfill our responsibilities as members of the Church and families.
May God bless us and our families as we seek to live out our faith in the world today.