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VII World Meeting of Families: The Pope is here!

June 2, 2012
Our intrepid reporters, Marie and Andre Brunet of Winnipeg, bring us another look at what's going on in Milan during the VII World Meeting of Families.
Milan, Italy -  We are writing this from the Piazza del Duomo (the Milan Cathedral Square), where we await with large crowds and great anticipation the arrival of the Holy Father, Pope Benedict XVI. It has been 28 years since a pope has visited Milan. The city’s last papal visit was from John Paul II in 1984, which explains the excitement in the crowd! He will be here to greet the people of Milan, as well as all of us, who came from around the world for this event. In all, the people attending the VII World Meeting of Families have come from 153 countries, representing the five continents of the world.
This morning, we heard two speeches continuing on the theme of “Family: Work and Celebration”. Professor Blanca Castilla de Cortazar, an anthropologist and theologian from Spain presented “Celebrating as believers, educating the desire”. She spoke of celebration, referring to the Pope’s eminent arrival in Milan: “It is a celebration to be with the Pope, and maybe that’s why we’re here. Heaven will be a celebration, which is why we want to be saved.  Here we have come to learn that our family can also be more and more a celebration every day, which brings happiness to our days and prepares us for the great feast that awaits us.” She also spent time on Pope John Paul II’s words spoken in 1995, referring to the mutual complementarity of man and woman, that they are one in nature but two different people who complement one another and become one. But, she continued, “Being two is not enough to be a family. The union of the two people is formed with the passing of time, opening up to “three”, that is fecundity. Masculinity and femininity, when putting their resources together and sharing the same aim, become more powerful and, at the same time, are able to obtain what they cannot get on their own.”  In family life, she continued, it is important to have celebration, which can be experienced by simply spending time together, having rituals such as a daily meal, but even in the sharing of housework or resolving problems together.
Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Archbishop of Boston then continued, expanding on the theme of celebration: “To Glorify the Feast: The Family and the Day of the Lord”. His focus was on the sharing of the richness of the Catholic celebration, quoting Pope Benedict: “We are not here just for the ‘existing flock’. We have to be a missionary church.” He explained: “We learn to be disciples in the same way we learn a language, this means being part of a community who speaks that language.” In the realm of the family, he also referred to the daily sharing of a meal, relating it to the celebration of the Eucharist. He stated that the Eucharist is the center of our lives as Catholics. “There we experience the love of God and we learn our identity, who we are, why we are in the world and what we should do with our lives”. Families in which children see their parents and grandparents going to church to pray and receive the Eucharist with reverence, will make their children want to imitate them. The Cardinal concluded “We pray that our love for the Mass and the wonder at the Eucharist shall increase. Let’s do as the two disciples when walking to Emmaus did. Let’s tell the world that Jesus Christ is alive”.
Now, as we look forward to the “Feast of Testimonies” that will be held Saturday night with Pope Benedict XVI, André and I carry with us all the experiences of the last three days, all the words that have inspired us and the people we have met so far. There is so much more than can be said in these few words, but perhaps it can be summarized with “Rendiamo grazie a Dio!”
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Photo courtesy of Marie and Andre Brunet