To adequately prepare for the Great Jubilee of 2000, the Christian community must accept the serious responsibility of rediscovering the value of the family and marriage (cf. "Tertio Millennio Adveniente", 51). This is all the more urgent considering how this value is today called into question by a large part of culture and society.
Not only are some models of family life contested, changing under the pressure of social transformations and new work conditions, but even the very idea of family, that community founded on the marriage of a man and a woman, has been targeted in the name of a relativistic ethic that is making its way into large sectors of public opinion and even civil legislation.
The crisis of the family causes a crisis in society. Many pathological phenomena -- from loneliness to violence to drugs -- are explained by the fact that the nuclear family has lost its identity and function. Where the family diminishes, society loses its connective tissue. This has disastrous consequences, which destroy people, especially the weakest: from children to adolescents, to the handicapped, to the sick and aged.
2. There must be a reflection that helps not only believers, but all those of good will, to rediscover the value of marriage and the family. The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: "The family is the original cell of social life. It is the natural society in which man and woman are called to give themselves in love and the gift of life. The authority, stability and relational life in the bosom of the family make up the foundations of liberty, security and fraternity in the sphere of society" (n. 2207).
The family can be rediscovered by reason, listening to the moral law written on the human heart. As a community "founded and vivified by love" (cf. Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio", 18), the family draws its strength from the definitive covenant of love in which a man and a woman give themselves reciprocally, together becoming collaborators with God in the gift of life.
On the basis of this source-relationship of love, those relationships established with and among the other members of the family must be inspired by love and characterized by affection and mutual support. Far from closing the family in on itself, authentic love opens it out to all of society, so that the little domestic family and the large family of all human beings are not in opposition, but in intimate and authentic relationship. All of this is rooted in the very mystery of God, which the family evokes in a special way. In fact, as I wrote some years ago in my "Letter to Families", "in light of the New Testament it is possible to catch a glimpse of the original model of the family in God himself, in the Trinitarian mystery of his life. The divine "We" constitutes the eternal model of the human "we"; of the "we" first of all that is formed by the man and the woman, created in the Divine image and likeness" (n. 6: Teachings XVII/1 , 332).
3. God's fatherhood is the transcendent source of every other human fatherhood and motherhood. Contemplating it with love, we must feel our responsibility to rediscover that richness of communion, generation and life that characterizes marriage and family.
Interpersonal relations develop in the family in which each person is entrusted with a specific job, yet without rigid schematisms. I do not intend here to refer to those social roles and functions that are expressions of particular historical and cultural contexts. Rather I am thinking of the importance that they hold in the reciprocal spousal relationship and in the communal responsibility of the parents, figures of man and woman in how they are called to live out their natural characteristics within the bounds of a profound, enriching and respectful communion. "To this 'unity of the two' God entrusts not only the work of procreation and the life of the family, but the very construction of history" ("Letter to Women", 8: Teaching XVIII/1 '1994', 1878).
4. The child then must be understood as the maximum expression of the communion between man and woman, the reciprocal acceptance/donation that is realized and transcended in a "third," who is that child. The child is God's blessing. He transforms husband and wife into father and mother (cf. Apostolic Exhortation "Familiaris Consortio", 21). Both "go out from themselves" and express themselves beyond themselves in a person, the very fruit of their love.
In a special way the ideal expressed in Jesus' priestly prayer can be applied to the family. In this prayer He asks that His unity with the Father involve the disciples (cf. Jn 17:11) and those who believe in their word (cf. Jn 17:20-21). The Christian family, as "domestic Church" (cf. "Lumen Gentium", 11), is called to realize this ideal of perfect communion in a special way.
5. As we approach the conclusion of this year dedicated to meditation on God the Father, let us rediscover the family in the light of Divine Paternity. By contemplating God the Father we can deduce above all an urgency, particularly regarding the challenge of the present historical time.
To look at God the Father means to understand the family as the place of acceptance and promotion of life. It is the laboratory of fraternity where, with the help of the Christ's Spirit, "a new fraternity and solidarity, true reflection of the mystery of reciprocal donation and acceptance proper to the Holy Trinity" ("Evangelium Vitae", 76) is created among us.
From the renewal of the experience of the Christian family, the Church will be able to learn to cultivate, among all the members of the community, a more family-like dimension, adopting and promoting a more human and fraternal relational style (cf. FC, 64).
God is the Supreme Being, infinitely perfect, Who made all things and keeps them in existence. God made everything - men, beasts, plants, planets, stars, everything. Not only that; God keeps everything in existence. Were He to take away His hand from what He created, everything would disappear into nothingness quicker than thought. Without a cause, there could be no effects. Without God, could there be anything at all?
"In Him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). "In Him were created all things" (Colossians 1:16). "It is He Who gives to all men life and breath and all things" (Acts 17:25).
The traditions of all nations and races support the idea of the existence of God. All nations and peoples have an inner conviction of God's existence; their intellect supports their instinctive trust. Even among the wildest, most remote, and most degraded pagans there is invariably found the worship of some deity recognized as supreme, on whom man depends. There are savage peoples without ruler, laws, or even settlements, but never without some god that they worship with prayer and sacrifice.
When we say that God is the Supreme Being, we mean that He is above all creatures, the self-existing and infinitely perfect Spirit. "I am the first and I am the last, and besides me there is no god" (Isaiah 44:6). 'I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end,' says the Lord God, 'Who is and Who was and Who is coming'" (Apocalypse/Revelation 1:18).
A spirit is a being that has understanding and free will, but no body, and will never die. God is a pure spirit. As God has no body, when we speak of His eyes and His hands, we only speak in a figurative manner, in order to make ourselves more understandable according to our human way of speaking. Our Lord said to the Samaritan woman at the well: "God is spirit; and they who worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth" (John 4:24). Yet God has often taken on visible forms, in order to be seen by men. Thus He showed Himself in the form of a dove at the baptism of Jesus, and in the form of tongues of fire on Pentecost. God is neither a dove nor tongues of fire; He merely assumed those forms in order to be seen by mortal eyes.
Angels and devils are pure spirits also. Men are only partly spiritual, because they have a body. Man's soul is a spirit, absolutely independent of matter, and by creatures indestructible. As spirits, God and man have this in common, though in different degrees; both have understanding, intellect, and free will. By his free will man can even defy his Creator, God.
When we say that God is self-existing we mean that He does not owe His existence to any other being. God made us, but who made God? God said to Moses, "I Am Who Am" (Exodus 3:14). He exists of Himself, deriving His Being from no other. God is the First Cause. All other beings and things owe their existence to God. In comparison to Him, we are nothing.
Man can never have a complete knowledge of God. Man is finite and cannot fully understand the infinite. A cup can contain the immensity of the ocean more easily than man can fully understand the Infinite God. We know God only partly, from the order, harmony, and existence of things, from our conscience, and from God's revelations to man.
When we say that God is infinitely perfect, we mean that He has all perfections without limit. God is immense and eternal, "an ocean without shore or bottom," the unchangeable Being that only Himself can fully understand: "His greatness is unsearchable" (Psalm 144:3). God is so great and wonderful that He needs nothing to make Him greater or more wonderful. He possesses all perfections, countless, innumerable, illimitable, boundless, the cause of perfection in all.
God cannot be better, more holy, or more perfect than He already is. He is at the acme of perfection, the uncreated, the Infinite. "Heaven and the Heaven of Heavens cannot contain thee" (3 Kings 8:27). So perfect is God that He is infinitely incomprehensible, incapable of being completely understood. Reason can verify the revelation that God made of Himself. But when we make our reason or our emotions the final authority, we make ourselves our own god, and shut the road to the supernatural, the Infinite.
God alone can bridge the chasm that yawns between the finite and the infinite. When we take advantage of His grace to seek Him in loving trust, He holds our His hand, a Father calling to children, to cross the chasm safely to Him.
The Creator is above all the created, though something of Him, some likeness of His Being, may be found in every creature. But even were all creaturs, from the most glorious seraphim to the lowliest of moss, to combine their powers and perfections, theirs would be a faint shadow of God's all-encompassing supremacy. Some of the perfections of God are: God is eternal, all-good, all knowing, all-present, and almighty.
God's perfections do not exist separately in Him, but are one and identical with Himself. They are only various manifestations of His one nature and perfection. In God, for example, His goodness is one with His wisdom and power. His perfections, besides being one and the same in Him, are also identical with Him: that is, God Himself is infinity, wisdom, goodness, power.
Election of Pope Leo VIII, 131st successor of Peter. He was first elected as antipope by Emperor Otto I but soon was accepted by all. His pontificate lasted two years. His legacy is that he forbade the laity to enter a church after a solemn function had begun, urging promptness for tardiness would not be tolerated.
Death of Pope Clement VI, the fourth Avignon Pope, and 198th successor of Peter who was a cultured and virtuous man. He bought the city of Avignon for 18,000 gold florins and protected the Jews against persecutions. He also reduced the interval between Holy Years from 100 to 50 years and celebrated the second Jubilee in 1350 after Pope Boniface VIII had decreed the first Jubilee Year in 1300.
Pope Clement VII procures his release from imprisonment in Castel Sant'Angelo by emperor Charles V's troops. Immediately after obtaining his freedom, he fled to Orvieto and then to Viterbo to escape the retaliation of the German emperor during the time of the Protestant uprising.
Pope Pius XII issues his 21st encyclical Mirabile illud on the crusade of prayers for peace.