Milan, Italy - Our fifth and last day in Milan for the VII World Meeting of Families was marked this morning with thanksgiving and reverence as we participated in Sunday Mass with Pope Benedict XVII. As we made our way back toward the Bresso Airport grounds this morning, André and I reflected on the “Feast of Testimonies” that had been held the night before. It was so inspiring not only to hear families address their questions to the Holy Father, but especially to hear the Pope talk about his family, his childhood, to hear him give encouragement and direction to these families (and to all of us), as well as to assure them of his prayers. Although we were but one family amongst the thousands that were there, we really felt as if at times, his messages spoke directly to us! We are anxious to continue to share these messages of support and love for the family that the Holy Father gave, which were directed to those contemplating marriage, those struggling in their marriage and family, and those seeking balance between the busyness of life and quality time celebrating with the family.
The last leg of our pilgrimage today brought closure to the event of the World Meeting of Families, but opened new doors as well, as we listened to the Holy Father in his homily once again address families, and couples with encouragement: “You have before you the witness of so many families who point out the paths for growing in love: by maintaining a constant relationship with God and participating in the life of the Church, by cultivating dialogue, respecting the other’s point of view, by being ready for service and patient with the failings of others, by being able to forgive and to seek forgiveness, by overcoming with intelligence and humility any conflicts that may arise, by agreeing on principles of upbringing, and by being open to other families, attentive towards the poor, and responsible within civil society. These are all elements that build up the family. Live them with courage, and be sure that, insofar as you live your love for each other and for all with the help of God’s grace, you become a living Gospel, a true domestic Church.
And on this Feast of the Holy Trinity, Pope Benedict presented us with a challenge to live out this image of the Trinity in our church and in our families: “We have been given the task of building church communities that are more and more like families, able to reflect the beauty of the Trinity and to evangelize not only by word, but I would say by “radiation”, in the strength of living love.”
Was it worth it for André and I to come all the way to Milan to participate in the VII World Meeting of Families? In one word: “Si!” This experience was so rich with not only what we learned from the conferences and the Holy Father’s words, but also with the feeling of being one with the Church as a big family. As we met families and individuals from around the world, what seemed to resonate across the board was a strong desire to serve God and others and to be able to share in an experience of faith with others. From the volunteers who gave freely of their time to work and coordinate during this week, as well as during the organization of the event, to those who came representing their particular Christian community or movement back home. It is clear that gathering together to share and celebrate together, the Church family was strengthened.
We hope that through what we’ve been able to share with these few words each day, those who were not able to attend in person may have also felt a part of this family experience. And perhaps some of you may begin thinking now of attending the VIII World Meeting of Families in 2015, which Pope Benedict announced today will be held in …Philadelphia,USA! We hope to see you there, and we pray, God willing, that by then our own little “domestic church” may contain more members! Please pray for us too!
We leave tomorrow for Ireland, on our journey towards the International Eucharistic Congress in Dublin. May God bless you all and may you know God’s love for each of you and for your family!
Marie and André Brunet