Last night, the women’s prayer group I belong to began discussing the preparatory catechesis that was prepared for next week’s World Meeting of Families. I don’t know how many people are aware of it, especially if people like me (aka in catechetical leadership) haven’t utilized it- like I haven’t used it!
It’s a beautiful catechesis on the family.
It begins by walking through Catholic anthropology, and an understanding of what the human person is, why God made us, and the root of our human dignity. If we don’t understand that first chapter – or if we disagree about it – we can never understand or agree with what the family is.
On the eve of this WMOF, it’s an understatement to say there’s misunderstanding and disagreement about these basic truths. I can argue with someone until I’m blue in the face about what marriage is — but if we disagree with what the human person is, or why we were created, we are talking two different languages. How do we find fulfillment as human persons? Well, because we were created in the image of God- Father, Son, and Holy Spirit- we were created for relationship. We were created for communion. We were created to give of ourselves to another in love. So how do we find ourselves, how do we find happiness? In a sincere gift of self. In sacrifice. It may sound odd, and it’s certainly not what the world would have us believe. But it’s the truth of the Gospel and the truth that will set us free. The Cross as a sign of victory looked odd, too. But it’s the Truth.
In light of all of this, reports yesterday surfaced that President Obama has invited noted activists and dissenters from Church teaching on human life and sexuality to meet the Pope at the White House. While the Pope certainly has never backed away from greeting people who disagree with him — and neither did Jesus — this is clearly orchestrated for other reasons. If you stop to think about why the Pope is coming, it makes your mind reel.
The Pope is coming to the United States to do a variety of things, but the main reason he is coming is for the World Meeting. He is coming to preach the authentic understanding of the human person, of marriage, of sexuality, of family.
We live in a moment of darkness, when people don’t even see the lies they’re being told about who we are and who we were created to be. Sure, some people preach a false gospel with evil intentions, but so many are good-intentioned and they don’t even see…. We are surrounded by so much darkness and there’s so much suffering because of this intellectual darkness.
But what Philly is about is the joy and the gift of the Gospel. This next week is an opportunity for abundant graces. The Holy Father will be on our shores and will be praying, as Benedict did, for a new Pentecost. The graces will be flowing through the streets of D.C., New York, and Philadelphia.
My prayer is that the joy of truth shines out during this time. We can so often become burdened by the darkness, it’s easy to forget that we’re called to have that joy of the Gospel.
Truth is beauty. Truth is joy. Amidst the darkness of this world, may we never lose hope, never lose joy, never lose the faith that will save us.