Recognizing Holiness in Families - Evangelii Gaudium Series #3

Pope Francis is saying that we can appreciate the potential for holiness in all families without falling into syncretism or compromising our values: “Solidarity, in its deepest and most challenging sense, thus becomes a way of making history in a life setting where conflicts, tensions and oppositions can achieve a diversified and life-giving unity” (EG 228). The U.S. bishops who wrote Follow the Way of Love spoke of “the Domestic Church” when describing their own experiences with single parents and family conflict, recognizing God’s saving grace in their families of origin.[1] We must recognize that family relationships can and do break down and instead of support and encouragement, great pain and suffering are inflicted. Pope Francis calls us to see clearly the situation among families of the world, with all their gifts and struggles, to examine our attitudes and responses to them toward them, and become missionary disciples that walk with those who are suffering and marginalized.

Evangelii Gaudium describes three settings for evangelization, and families are found in all three settings. The first setting is the pastoral situation of those who are active and ardent members of our parish communities, and even those whom we see only occasionally in the pews (EG 15). The second setting for evangelization is “the baptized whose lives do not reflect the demands of Baptism,” who have drifted away from the Church and “no longer experience the consolation born of faith” (EG 15).  Cultural pressures affect all families, whatever their current Church practice, because they are “experiencing a profound cultural crisis, as are all communities and social bonds” (EG 66).

The third setting for evangelization described in Evangelii Gaudium is made up of people who have never known Christ or have always rejected the faith. Many families would not consider themselves domestic churches, but love one another and want the best for their children.  “As believers, we also feel close to those who do not consider themselves part of any religious tradition, yet sincerely seek the truth, goodness and beauty which we believe have their highest expression and source in God. We consider them as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful coexistence between peoples and in protecting creation” (EG 259). Evangelii Gaudium calls us to respond to the needs of all people who do not have the joy of the Gospel, to a world that is searching, “sometimes with anguish, sometimes with hope” (EG 10). All deserve to hear the joyful message of God’s love.


[1] USCCB, Follow the Way of Love, Ibid.