Greetings from Day Two at the WMOF. While the American bishops all gather to the south, in DC, to pray with our Holy Father and to celebrate the canonization of Father Serra, thousands of Catholics are here in Philadelphia. We have representatives here from over 100 countries. And the message being proclaimed here is vital to the future of the world.
At our morning Mass, we heard a beautiful homily on the readings of the day. From the Book of Ezra, we learn that it was only God’s mercy that brought about an end to the exile of the Israelites. It happened in a way they could not have expected. But once it did, it was clear they had to turn away from the practices they had picked up in their foreign territory that were contrary to the Law of God.
Among those were “irregular marriages.” To return from exile meant ending the unlawful marriages they were in. Without that, no true blessings would come upon them. So, too, with our culture today.
Cardinal Robert Sarah offered the morning keynote talk. In it, he explained that our modern cultural embrace of family lifestyles that run contrary to the Gospel will bring only ruin, not blessing on us.
In an intentional reference to the coming Synod in Rome, he said that there is no such thing as a theology of marriage and family life that on the one hand holds up principles of unity, fruitfulness, and unbreakable marriage in the abstract, while at the same time allowing “pastoral practices” that in actuality give permission for persons to deviate from the same Gospel principles. Marriage is permanent. And he said that any attempt to hold such contradictory approaches to the truth and practice of authentic married love “is a heresy.”
The kerygma is always the answer, Cardinal Sarah said. That is: preaching Christ crucified and risen, with abundant mercy for all, and a calling, in grace, to embrace and live a NEW life- a different life.
The family according to God’s law is the way of life. To live or preach against it, is the way of death, for individuals and for cultures and for nations.
The family, he said, is the place where selfishness is healed and saints are made. It is the place where the future of the world is determined, a future of hope and life.