The word of God, marriage and the family (Excerpt -- Verbum Domini)

The word of God, marriage and the family
From Pope Benedict's Post Synodal Apostolic Exhortation on sacred scripture, Verbum Domini, Word of the Lord, September 30, 2010. 

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e) The word of God, marriage and the family

The Synod also felt the need to stress the relationship between the word of God, marriage and the Christian family. Indeed, “with the proclamation of the word of God, the Church reveals to Christian families their true identity, what it is and what it must be in accordance with the Lord’s plan”.[284] Consequently, it must never be forgotten that the word of God is at the very origin of marriage (cf. Gen 2:24) and that Jesus himself made marriage one of the institutions of his Kingdom (cf. Mt 19:4-8), elevating to the dignity of a sacrament what was inscribed in human nature from the beginning. “In the celebration of the sacrament, a man and a woman speak a prophetic word of reciprocal self-giving, that of being ‘one flesh’, a sign of the mystery of the union of Christ with the Church (cf. Eph 5:31-32)”. Fidelity to God’s word leads us to point out that nowadays this institution is in many ways under attack from the current mentality. In the face of widespread confusion in the sphere of affectivity, and the rise of ways of thinking which trivialize the human body and sexual differentiation, the word of God re-affirms the original goodness of the human being, created as man and woman and called to a love which is faithful, reciprocal and fruitful.

The great mystery of marriage is the source of the essential responsibility of parents towards their children. Part of authentic parenthood is to pass on and bear witness to the meaning of life in Christ: through their fidelity and the unity of family life, spouses are the first to proclaim God’s word to their children. The ecclesial community must support and assist them in fostering family prayer, attentive hearing of the word of God, and knowledge of the Bible. To this end the Synod urged that every household have its Bible, to be kept in a worthy place and used for reading and prayer. Whatever help is needed in this regard can be provided by priests, deacons and a well-prepared laity. The Synod also recommended the formation of small communities of families, where common prayer and meditation on passages of Scripture can be cultivated. Spouses should also remember that “the Word of God is a precious support amid the difficulties which arise in marriage and in family life”.

Here I would like to highlight the recommendations of the Synod concerning the role of women in relation to the word of God. Today, more than in the past, the “feminine genius”,[288] to use the words of John Paul II, has contributed greatly to the understanding of Scripture and to the whole life of the Church, and this is now also the case with biblical studies. The Synod paid special attention to the indispensable role played by women in the family, education, catechesis and the communication of values. “They have an ability to lead people to hear God’s word, to enjoy a personal relationship with God, and to show the meaning of forgiveness and of evangelical sharing”. They are likewise messengers of love, models of mercy and peacemakers; they communicate warmth and humanity in a world which all too often judges people according to the ruthless criteria of exploitation and profit.

[284] John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio (22 November 1981), 49: AAS 74 (1982), 140-141.

 

[288] Cf. Apostolic Letter Mulieris Dignitatem (15 August 1988), 31: AAS 80 (1988), 1727-1729.

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