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For Your Marriage

Teachings about Catholic marriage from our Holy Father.

Pope Benedict’s Post-Christmas Reflection on the Family

This January 2009 article is part of a series of archived “Marriage Today” posts.

Christmas, while underscoring the family’s important role in people’s lives, can be a time when “the discomfort and pain caused by certain family wounds are amplified,” Pope Benedict XVI said in remarks Dec. 28, the feast of the Holy Family. He urged families everywhere not to allow any diminishment of their love and openness to life or of “the incomparable bonds that unite your home.”

The pope prayed for families in difficulty and family members who are sick or out of work. He said he feels close to all families and prays “especially for those in every family who have greater need for health, work, comfort and companionship.”

Speaking at the time of the Angelus, Pope Benedict called the family a sign that “allows us to see who [God] is: love.” Thus, the family is a sign of a love that is “eternally gratuitous” and that “sustains faithfully and without limits, even in moments of difficulty or discouragement,” he added.

The Holy Family resembles all families, but is at the same time unique, said the pope. First, he explained, the Holy Family is, like other families, “a model of conjugal love, collaboration, sacrifice, trust in divine providence, industriousness, solidarity — of all those values safeguarded and promoted by the family.”

Yet, at the same time “the family of Nazareth is unique, different from all others because of its singular vocation,” Pope Benedict said. In this way the Holy Family is a sign to all families, and Christian families primarily, of “the horizon of God,” the primacy of God’s will and “the perspective of heaven to which we are destined.”

About the author
David Gibson served for 37 years on the editorial staff at Catholic News Service, where he was the founding and long-time editor of Origins, CNS Documentary Service. David received a bachelor’s degree from St. John’s University in Minnesota and an M.A. in religious education from The Catholic University of America. Married for 38 years, he and his wife have three adult daughters and six grandchildren.