Address to Teams of our Lady
Leaders of Teams of Our Lady (Équipes de Notre Dame), a worldwide lay movement based in France in which married couples form small groups with a priest as an advisor, met with the Holy Father on September 10, 2015. At this meeting, the pope asked again for prayers for the Synod fathers as the time for the Ordinary Synod on the Family approaches (October 2015).
Pope Francis appeared to be very familiar with the movement, which is popular in Latin America and has a presence worldwide, making references to the monthly routine of the groups, such as a “sit-down” in which husband and wife take time to pray and communicate about their marriage in a focused way.
Pope Francis exhorted the couples who are part of Teams of Our Lady to take the joy and peace they receive from the movement out to the world: “all this is witnessed, proclaimed and communicated outside so that others, in turn, will put themselves on this path.”
The pope spoke about the spirituality of the movement and encouraged couples “to put [it] into practice and to live [it] in depth, with constancy and perseverance.” He noted that times of prayer for a married couple together are particularly “good and necessary.” In speaking about the “duty to sit down,” the Holy Father said that this practice combats “the habits of the frenetic and agitated world impregnated by individualism” and is “a moment of exchange lived in truth under the gaze of the Lord, which is a precious time of thanksgiving, of forgiveness, of mutual respect and attention to the other.” And finally, the pope thanked the movement for demonstrating the fruitful relationship that is lived when a priest is brought into a community of families. He said that these priests “always find priestly joy, fraternal presence, emotional balance and spiritual paternity in their contact with your Teams and your families.”
Next, the pope turned to the missionary spirit that he invites Teams to imbue: “This mission, which is entrusted to them, is all the more important in as much as the image of the family — as God wills it, made up of one man and one woman in view of the good of the spouses and also of the generation and education of children — is deformed through powerful contrary projects supported by ideological colonizations.” He pointed out that married couples living out a Christian family life are the Church’s best witnesses: “You are certainly already missionaries by the radiation of your family life to your ambits of friendship and relations, and also others. In fact, a happy and balanced family, inhabited by the presence of God, speaks on its own of the love of God for all men.” But to go further, Pope Francis said, couples are invited to creative engagement in the world, particularly in support of younger couples.
The Holy Father exhorted the Teams community to be close to wounded families and to help them “in a discreet but generous way, materially, humanly or spiritually, in those circumstances where they find themselves vulnerable.” He also encouraged the members of the movement to act as “instruments of the mercy of Christ and of the Church towards persons whose marriage has failed.” He noted that a married couple’s experience of love and fidelity, which is a gift from God, allows them to best understand those who suffer from “an abandonment, a betrayal, a failure of love.” Therefore, it is necessary for these persons to be available to walk with the hurting in the community and to assist them in finding their place in the Church. “Do not forget either the unspeakable suffering of youngsters who live these painful family situations: you can give them much.”