THE FIRST MASS OF THE THEOLOGICAL AND PASTORAL CONGRESS
Cardinal Eugenio de Araujo Sales, Archbishop of Rio de Janeiro
It is providential that we can open this Congress on the Family on the Feast of Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus and The Holy Face. For this Saint, the family represents, in many different ways, an introduction to the practice of virtues such as simplicity, fraternal love, and a unique confidence in the Father. Many of these virtues, brought to maturity by a special grace of God, became part of the great adventure with God in the life of this young woman who is to be declared a Doctor of the Church.
They are virtues which make the Church a true Holy Family and it is these virtues which transform the family into a true Domestic Church. In the family, certainly, unconditional love is one of the most fundamental and characteristic experiences; in St. Theresas life this was a reality in a special way in her relationship with her father. In the difficult uphill climb of her spiritual experience, she would say that God, the Holy One "wishes to carry us in his arms"; ( ) for this reason we must "have confidence in his fatherly goodness, up to the point of rashness". This access to God the Father is available to us in the unlimited love of Jesus, the ideal of St. Theresa and the most radical and authentic secret of the renovation of our Christian families. In the ultimate analysis, only God in Jesus Christ, will bring about the true renovation of the family. Through Jesus loved, and the Father adored, the family finds refuge in a sanctuary from which each one and the family as a whole receives strength and encouragement. The apiration which is saint formulated a year before her death is valid for each one of us and for each renewed family: I am sheltered by the Holy Spirit "in the heart of the Church, my Mother; and that way I will be Love, I will be Everything."
What sustains our efforts is not only the example of a Saint, but above all the infallible promise of God. In the first reading of this Holy Mass, that which in the most happy families is only a shadow, is promised with the infallibility of the word of God, to all those who suffer or are under the threat of evil: "you will be sucked and carried on her hip and fondled in her lap. As a mother fondels a child, thus I will comfort you". (Is 66:12-13). The family, in which peace reigns and confidence and love between the couple and tender love for the children, becomes an incomparable prophecy of that which God has prepared for each one of us and for the whole Church. Thus in the experience of the couple and that of the children, the family is called to be an image, a blessed symbol of our eternal participation in the family of the Trinity. The prophecy continues: "You will see all this and your heart will rejoice and your strength will be renewed like the grass." (IS 66:14)
I conclude these words with an invitation for all: let us pray with confidence, that God, in His infinite Grace may renew the Christian family. Let us confide the mothers, the fathers, the children and young people to God. May the Church have a new and expressive presence close to the families; She who is Teacher and Mother, beloved spouse of Our Lord Jesus Christ.