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At the General Audience Pope Francis calls for prayer for families

At the General Audience Pope Francis calls for prayer for families

A special “pause in prayer” for the family and for life: this was the
heart of the General Audience on Wednesday, 25 March, the Solemnity of the
Annunciation. The Pope asked the faithful present in St Peter’s Square to pray
a Hail Mary and the prayer to the Holy Family composed for the Synod of
Bishops, recalling that the Church “like a mother, never never abandons the family, even when it is
miserable, wounded and humiliated in so many ways. Nor when it falls into sin,
or moves away from the Church; she will always do anything to try to take care
of it and heal it, to call it to conversion and to reconcile it to the Lord.”
The following is a translation of the Pope’s catechesis, which was give in

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!

In our
series of catecheses on the family, today’s is a special step: it will be a
pause in prayer.

on 25 March in the Church we solemnly celebrate the Annunciation, the mystery
of the Incarnation begins. The Archangel Gabriel visits a humble girl in
Nazareth and proclaims to her that she will conceive and bear the Son of God.
With this Annunciation the Lord illumines and strengthens Mary’s faith, as he
will also do for her spouse Joseph, so that Jesus might be born into a human family. This is very beautiful: it shows
us how deeply the mystery of the Incarnation, as God desired, comprehends not
only the conception in the mother’s womb, but also acceptance in a real family.
Today I would like to contemplate with you on the beauty of this bond, the
beauty of condescension of God; and we can do this by reciting the Hail Mary together, of which the first
part takes up the words of the Angel,
those he addressed to the Virgin. I invite you to pray together:

Mary, full of grace,
the Lord is with you.
Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
Pray for us sinners
Now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”

And now a second aspect: on 25
March, the Solemnity of the Annunciation, in many Countries the Day for Life is celebrated. That is why,
20 years ago, St John Paul II on this
day signed the Encyclical Evangelium
. In order to remember this
anniversary present in the Square today are many followers of the Pro-Life
Movement. In Evangelium Vitae, the family occupies a central place, as
it is the womb of human life. The word of my venerable Predecessor reminds us
that a human couple was blessed from the
beginning to form a community of love and life, entrusted with the mission to
generate life
. Christian spouses, celebrating the Sacrament of Marriage,
make themselves open to honour this blessing, with the grace of Christ, for
their whole lives. The Church, for her part, is solemnly committed to care for the family that is
born, as a gift of God for her life, in good times and in bad: the bond between the Church and the family
is sacred and inviolable
. The Church, like a mother, never abandons the
family, even when it is downhearted, wounded and humiliated in so many ways.
Nor when it falls into sin, or moves away from the Church; she will always do
everything to try to care for and heal it, to call it to conversion and to
reconcile it to the Lord.

If this then is the task, it is
clear how much prayer the Church needs
in order to be able, in every age, to carry out
this mission! A prayer full of love for the family and for life. A
prayer that can rejoice with the rejoicing and suffer with the suffering.

Here then is what I, together with
my co-workers, have thought to offer today: renewal
of prayer for the Synod of Bishops on the Family
. We relaunch this
commitment until this coming October, when the Ordinary Synodal Assembly dedicated to the family will take place. I
would like that this prayer, as the whole journey of the Synod, be animated by
the compassion of the Good Shepherd for his flock, especially for people and
families that, for different reasons, are “harassed and helpless, like sheep
without a shepherd” (Mt 9:36). Thus, sustained and animated by the grace of
God, the Church can be ever more committed, and every more united, in the
witness of the truth of the love of God and of his mercy for the world’s
families, none excluded, both within the fold and without it.

I ask you please do not fail to
pray. Everyone – Pope, cardinals, bishops, priests, men and women religious,
lay faithful – we are all called to pray for the Synod. This is
what is needed, not gossip! I
call to prayer also those who feel far
or who are no longer used to doing it. This prayer
for the Synod on the family
is for the good of everyone. I know that this
morning you were given a holy card, which you are holding in your hands. I
invite you to keep it and carry it with you, so that in the coming months you
can recite it often, with holy persistence, as Jesus asked us to. Now let us
recite it together:

Mary and Joseph

in you
we contemplate

splendour of true love,

to you
in trust we turn.

Family of Nazareth,

make of
our families too

of communion and cenacles of prayer,

schools of the Gospel

domestic Churches.

Family of Nazareth,

more let families face the experience

violence, closure and division:

has been wounded or scandalized

let them
know immediate consolation and healing.

Family of Nazareth,

let the coming Synod of Bishops

in all awareness

of the
sacred and inviolable character of the family,

beauty in God’s plan.

Mary and Joseph,

answer our prayer, Amen.

Special greetings

I greet the
English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, the Channel
Islands, Denmark, Germany, Malta, Qatar, Indonesia, Australia and the United
States of America. I greet in particular
the representatives of the Hindu Community of Kerala. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke
an abundance of joy and peace in the Lord.
God bless you all!

I greet with special affection workers
from the Province of Vibo Valentia, who are living in a grave economic
situation. I would like to join the interventions of their Bishop, Luigi Renso,
in expressing my concern and closeness to those facing these problems. I
address a heartfelt appeal that the logic of profit not prevail, but rather
that of solidarity and justice. At the centre of every situation, especially
work-related, should be the person and his or her dignity: that is why having
work is a matter of justice, and it is an injustice not to have work! When
people do not earn their bread, they
lose their dignity! And this is the drama of our times, especially for young
people, who, without work, have no prospects in their future and can so easily
become prey to criminal organizations. Please, let us fight for this: the
justice of work.

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