We need “to learn once again how to talk to one another”

Pope’s 49th World Communications Day Message

Wishing to focus all attention on the upcoming Ordinary Synod on the Family, Pope Francis has decided to dwell on the role of the family in his World Communications Day Message.

Pope Francis begins with the scene of Mary visiting her cousin Elizabeth. “When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit cried out in a loud voice and said, ‘Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb’.” (Lk 1:41-42)

He then comments, “The womb which hosts us is the first ‘school’ of communication, a place of listening and physical contact where we begin to familiarize ourselves with the outside world within a protected environment, with the reassuring sound of the mother’s heartbeat.” He adds, “It is an experience which we all share, since each of us was born of a mother.”

Once we are born, we learn to communicate in the bigger “womb” of the family. “We do not create our language; we can use it because we have received it. It is in the family that we learn to speak our ‘mother tongue’, the language of those who have gone before us. (cf. 2 Mac 7:25,27). In the family we realize that others have preceded us, they made it possible for us to exist and in our turn to generate life and to do something good and beautiful. We can give because we have received. This virtuous circle is at the heart of the family’s ability to communicate among its members and with others. More generally, it is the model for all communication.”

It is within the family where we learn to communicate with God, “the setting in which the most basic form of communication, which is prayer, is handed down. When parents put their newborn children to sleep, they frequently entrust them to God, asking that he watch over them. When the children are a little older, parents help them to recite some simple prayers, thinking with affection of other people, such as grandparents, relatives, the sick and suffering, and all those in need of God’s help.”

Family members are not perfect, but they learn forgiveness which “is itself a process of communication. When contrition is expressed and accepted, it becomes possible to restore and rebuild the communication which broke down. A child who has learned in the family to listen to others, to speak respectfully and to express his or her view without negating that of others, will be a force for dialogue and reconciliation in society.”

Families where there are members with disabilities can likewise become an “incentive to openness, sharing and ready communication with all. It can also help schools, parishes and associations to become more welcoming and inclusive of everyone.”

Pope Francis also pointed out that “In a world where people often curse, use foul language, speak badly of others, sow discord and poison our human environment by gossip, the family can teach us to understand communication as a blessing.” He adds that “it is only by blessing rather than cursing, by visiting rather than repelling, and by accepting rather than fighting, that we can break the spiral of evil, show that goodness is always possible, and educate our children to fellowship.”

At this point, the Pontiff says that the media today “can be both a help and a hindrance to communication in and between families. The media can be a hindrance if they become a way to avoid listening to others, to evade physical contact, to fill up every moment of silence and rest, so that we forget that ‘silence is an integral element of communication; in its absence, words rich in content cannot exist.’ (Benedict XVI, Message for the 2012 World Communications Day). The media can help communication when they enable people to share their stories, to stay in contact with distant friends, to thank others or to seek their forgiveness, and to open the door to new encounters.”

He also pointed out that parents have an obligation to help children use technology wisely, but stressed that the community needs to assist them in this task. “The great challenge facing us today is to learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.”

Finally, the Holy Father said that in defending the family, the Church is “not fighting to defend the past. Rather, with patience and trust, we are working to build a better future for the world in which we live.”

JMOM

[Featured image: youinc.com]

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