On the Holy Family

"It Is Worth It to Work for the Family and Marriage"

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 1, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Here is a translation of the address Benedict XVI delivered Sunday, the feast of the Holy Family, before reciting the midday Angelus with several thousand people gathered in St. Peter's Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today we celebrate the feast of the Holy Family. Following the narration of the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, we stop to look at Jesus, Mary and Joseph, we look with adoration on the mystery of a God that chose to be born of a woman, the holy Virgin, and to enter this world by a path common to all men. In this way he sanctified the reality of the family, filling it with divine grace and fully revealing his vocation and mission.

The Second Vatican Council paid special attention to the family. The spouses, it affirmed, are for each other and their children witnesses of the faith and love of Christ (cf. "Lumen Gentium," No. 35). The Christian family participates in this way in the prophetic vocation of the Church: With its manner of living, "The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come" (ibid.).

As my venerable predecessor Pope John Paul II repeated untiringly, the good of the person and of society is intimately linked to the "good health" of the family (cf. "Gaudium et Spes," No. 47). Because they are words of the council, the Church is committed to the defense and promotion of the "the natural dignity of the married state and the superlative value" of marriage and the family (ibid.).

With this end in mind, an important initiative is being celebrated today in Madrid. I will address those participants now in Spanish.

Greetings to the participants in the family encounter that is taking place this Sunday in Madrid, as well as to those cardinals, bishops and priests that accompany them.

Upon contemplating the mystery of the Son of God that came into the world surrounded by the affection of Mary and Joseph, I invite all Christian families to experience the loving presence of the Lord in their lives. I encourage them, inspired by love of Christ for all mankind, to give witness before the world of the beauty of human love, marriage and family. This, founded in the dissoluble union between a man and a woman, constitutes the privileged environment in which human life is welcomed and protected, from its beginning until its natural end.

For this, parents have the right and fundamental obligation to educate their children, in the faith and in the values that dignify human existence. It is worth it to work for the family and marriage because it is worth it to work for the human being, the most valuable being created by God.

I direct myself in a special way to the children, so that they love and pray for their parents and brothers and sisters; to the young people, so that stimulated by the love of their parents, they follow with generosity their own vocation to marriage, the priesthood or religious life; to the elderly and the sick, so that they find the help and understanding they need. And to you, beloved spouses, count on the grace of God always, so that your love will be always more and more fruitful and faithful.

In the hands of Mary, "who with her 'yes' opened the door of our world to God" ("Spe Salvi"), I place the results of this celebration. Thank you very much and happy holidays.

[Translation by Karna Swanson]

[After the Angelus, the Pope greeted the people in several languages. In English, he said:]

I offer a warm welcome to the English-speaking visitors gathered for this Angelus prayer. Today, in the heart of the Christmas season, the Church celebrates the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary and Joseph. May the mystery of God's love, made incarnate in the Child Jesus and reflected in the home of Mary and Joseph in Nazareth, dwell in your hearts and in your families throughout the coming year. Upon all of you I invoke an abundance of Christmas joy and peace!

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