St. Joseph's Day Highlights Family, Says John Paul II

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VATICAN CITY, MARCH 17, 2004 ( John Paul II sees the solemnity of St. Joseph this Friday as a chance to reflect on the decisive influence of the family on children.

"This solemnity exhorts the families of today, comforted by the example of Mary and Joseph, who with love cared for the incarnate Word, to be inspired by their lifestyle in making daily decision of life and strength to overcome the difficulties," the Pope said in Polish at the end of today's general audience.

"Only in a genuine family, united lastingly and lovingly, can children reach healthy maturity, drawing from the example of freely given love, fidelity, reciprocal self-forgetfulness, and respect for life," he added.

Speaking afterward in Italian, the Holy Father invited young people to follow the example of St. Joseph, to "correspond every day with the Lord's wishes."

John Paul II presented Jesus' adoptive father to the sick as "support in suffering." The Pope also encouraged newlyweds to be "always docile to divine plans" as St. Joseph was.