DUBLIN – Families that pray together stay together was the main message Pope Francis delivered to families gathered Saturday in Dublin’s St. Mary’s Cathedral during the Vatican-sponsored World Meeting of Families, saying that the most important place to pass on the faith is at home through the “quiet example of the parents.”
“The faith is passed on ‘around the family table,’ in ordinary conversation, in the language that preserving love alone knows how to speak,” Francis said, before urging families to pray together. When they do, he urged them, “speak of good and holy things; let our Mother Mary into your family life. Celebrate the feasts of Christian people.”
When parents do this with their children, he said. their hearts “will gradually fill with generous love for others.”
The pope’s words came during his second speech in Ireland, at Dublin’s Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, where he met some 350 couples from every Irish diocese, who’d either married in the past year or who’re marrying soon.
Francis arrived in the cathedral after stopping at the Church of Our Lady of Lourdes, where he prayed briefly before the relics of Matt Talbot, a man declared venerable by Pope Paul VI and who today is considered the patron of those battling alcohol addiction.
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Several thousand people were waiting for Pope Francis around the Our Lady of Lourdes Church to greet him as he changed cars, from the closed Skoda he’s using in Ireland to a brief ride in the traditional pope mobile.
It is in the “domestic church,” Francis said, meaning the family, that children learn the meaning of faithfulness and sacrifice and where they learn to be people of integrity.
“They see how their mother and father interact with each other, how they care for each other and for others, how they love God and love the Church,” he added. “Live in deep solidarity with those who suffer and are at the edges of society. When you do this with your children, their hearts will gradually fill with generous love for others.”
Speaking in a country which, though historically deeply Catholic, has legalized divorce, gay marriage and abortion, Francis said the “virtues and truth the Lord teaches us are not necessarily popular in today’s world, which has little use for the weak, the vulnerable and all those it deems ‘unproductive’.”
As he often does when he talks about the elderly, the pontiff also said that it’s important to “listen to them” as they are a precious resource for young couples, “who look to the future with excitement and hope, and perhaps … a touch of trepidation!”
Talking to a young couple about to get married, Francis said they’re embarking on a plan that entails a “life-long commitment,” which is counter-cultural: “We’re not used to anything that really lasts for the whole of our lives,” he said.
“We know how easy it is today to find ourselves caught up in the ‘culture of the provisional,’ the ephemeral,” the pontiff said. “That culture strikes at the very roots of our processes of maturation, our growth in hope and love. How can we experience the ‘truly lasting’ in this culture of the ephemeral?”
Speaking to 250 couples in the cathedral, Francis said: “Marriage is a risk worth taking … for the rest of your lives, cherish it!”
Francis is in Dublin for a 32-hour visit to close the World Meeting of Families, that began on Wednesday in the Irish capital.
Earlier on Saturday Pope Francis addressed civil authorities, where he began the visit addressing the “grave scandal” caused by the “repugnant crimes” of sexual abuse of young people by priests and religious, saying those misdeeds have “rightly given rise to outrage.”
That speech drew fire from some victims’ groups for failing to offer concrete plans of action to deal not only with the crime of sexual abuse but also the cover-up.