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A focus on family

The 33-day Consecration to St Joseph ended on Friday, March 19, the Solemnity of St Joseph. From initial feedback, the challenge was appreciated with registered participants sharing the daily reflections with their families and other men.

The National Catholic Men’s Ministry which organised this campaign should be commended.

On the 150th anniversary of St Joseph being proclaimed patron of the Universal Church, Pope Francis issued an apostolic letter titled Patris Corde, With Father’s Heart.

“The aim of this Apostolic Letter is to increase our love for this great saint, to encourage us to implore his intercession and to imitate his virtues and his zeal,” the Holy Father wrote in that letter in which he declared a year dedicated to the saint, from December 8, 2020, the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, to the same date this year.

There is a long-held belief that our males are in deep crisis. Their crisis inevitably affects society and therefore it is no small coincidence that the Holy Father has also chosen this year to focus simultaneously on family life.

On the occasion of the Solemnity of the Holy Family 2020, December 27, Pope Francis declared a Year of ‘Amoris Laetitia Family’, ‘Amoris Laetitia – the Joy of Love’ being his 2016 apostolic exhortation.

The Holy Family has, for centuries, been “the model family, in which all families of the world can find their sure point of reference and sure inspiration.”

On the feast day, Pope Francis noted in his address during the Angelus that it is “within the family one can experience sincere communion when it is a house of prayer, when affections are serious, profound, pure, when forgiveness prevails over discord, when the daily harshness of life is softened by mutual tenderness and serene adherence to God’s will.”

This special year dedicated to the family began March 19, the fifth anniversary of the exhortation, and will conclude on June 26, 2022 on the occasion of the Tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome, Italy.

One objective of the Year is to share the content of the exhortation more widely, in order to help people “experience the Gospel of the family as a joy that fills hearts and lives”.

Other objectives are to help families recognise the precious value of the Sacrament of Marriage, enable “families to become active agents of the family apostolate”, and make “young people aware of the importance of formation in the truth of love and in the gift of self.”

These are just some of the objectives outlined by the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life which has been tasked by the Holy Father to coordinate the Year with dioceses around the world.

This Year of ‘Amoris Laetitia Family’ has taken on even greater significance because of the deleterious effects on the family brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. It is in the family that people find life. “For this reason, the family has always been the nearest hospital” (AL 321).

The Dicastery has been challenged to make concrete suggestions and initiatives that can be implemented, including strengthening marriage preparation programmes, accompanying newlyweds in their first years of marriages, and organising meetings for parents on how to raise their children. Also to be addressed is the care and concern that should be shown for couples in crisis, consider single parenting and recognise the role of grandparents.

There is of course, no perfect family. Our challenge as a Church is to continue supporting and accompanying families on this journey of life.