Thirty years ago, Blessed John Paul II wrote a letter exhorting the Christian family. That apostolic exhortation was “Familiaris Consortio” or “The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World”.
Three decades have passed since its writing, and the wisdom contained within its pages is just as relevant, if not even more so. This exhortation is a great reflection on marriage, the family, the Church and society.
For today’s parents who have not yet read this document, I encourage you to do so. There is a whole generation of families who could now benefit from reflecting on the words that Blessed John Paul II gave to us regarding the family. If you have not yet had the opportunity to read “Familiaris Consortio” then I urge you give it a go.
Below are a selection of great quotes which is by no means exhaustive.
“The Church is deeply convinced that only by the acceptance of the Gospel are the hopes that man legitimately places in mariage and in the family capable of being fulfilled.” (#3)
“At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the People of God.” (#3)
“Not infrequently ideas and solutions which are very appealing, but which obscure in varying degrees the truth and the dignity of the human person, are offered to the men and woman of today, in their sincere and deep search for a response to the important daily problems that affect their married and family life.” (#4)
“Following Christ, the Church seeks the truth, which is not always the same as the majority opinion.” (#5)
“The situation in which the family finds itself presents positive and negative aspects: the first are a sign of the salvation of Christ operating in the world; the second, a sign of the refusal that man gives to the love of God.” (#6)
“…signs are not lacking of a disturbing degradation of some fundamental values: a mistaken theoretical and practical concept of the independence of the spouses in relation to each other; serious misconceptions regarding the relationship of authority between parents and children; the concrete difficulties that the family itself experiences in the transmission of values; the growing number of divorces; the scourge of abortion; the ever more frequent recourse to sterilization; the appearance of a truly contraceptive mentality.” (#6)
“Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.” (#11)
“The only ‘place’ in which this self-giving in its whole truth is made possible is marriage.” (#11)
“In its most profound reality, love is essentially a gift; and conjugal love, while leading the spouses to the reciprocal ‘knowledge’ which makes them ‘one flesh,’ does not end with the couple, because it makes them capable of the greatest possible gift, the gift by which they become cooperators with God for giving life to a new human person. Thus the couple, while giving themselves to one another, give not just themselves but also the reality of children, who are a living reflection of their love, a permanent sign of conjugal unity and a living and inseparable synthesis of their being a father and a mother.” (#14)
“The family finds in the plan of God the Creator and Redeemer not only its identity, what it is, but also its mission, what it can and should do… Each family finds within itself a summons that cannot be ignored, and that specifies both its dignity and its responsibility: family, become what you are.” (#17)
“To bear witness to the inestimable value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time.” (#20)
“Family communion can only be preserved and perfected through a great spirit of sacrifice.” (#21)
“Concern for the child, even before birth, from the first moment of conception and then throughout the years of infancy and youth, is the primary and fundamental test of the relationship of one human being to another.” (26)
“…the fundamental taks of the family is to serve life, to actualize in history the original blessing of the Creator – that of transmitting by procreation the divine image from person to person.” (#28)
“But the Church firmly believes that human life, even if weak and suffering, is always a splendid gift of God’s goodness. Against the pessimism and selfishness which cast a shadow over the world, the Church stands for life: in each human life she sees the splendor of that “Yes,” that “Amen,” who is Christ Himself. To the “No” which assails and afflicts the world, she replies with this living “Yes,” thus defending the human person and the world from all who plot against and harm life.” (#30)
“Sex education, which is a basic right and duty of parents, must always be carried out under their attentive gudance, whether at home or in educational centres chosen and controlled by them.” (#37)
“…those in society who are in charge of schools must never forget that the parents have been appointed by God Himself as the first and principal educators of their children and that their right is completely inalienable.” (#40)
“The family has vital and organic links with society, since it is its foundation and nourishes it continually through its role of service to life…” (#42)
“…families should be the first to take steps to see that the laws and institutions of the State not only do not offend but support and positively defend the rights and duties of the family.” (#44)
“…the Christian family is grafted into the mystery of the Church to such a degree as to become a sharer, in its own way, in the saving mission proper to the Church.” (#49)
“Thus the little domestic Church, like the greater Church, needs to be constantly and intensely evangelized: hence its duty regarding permanent education in the faith.” (#52)
“Just as husbands and wives receive from the sacrament the gift and responsibility of translating into daily living the sanctification bestowed on them, so the same sacrament confers on them the grace and moral obligation of transforming their whole lives into a ‘spiritual sacrifice'”. (#56)
“The dignity and responsibility of the Christian family as the domestic Church can be achieved only with God’s unceasing aid, which will surely be granted if it is humbly and trustingly petitioned in prayer.” (#59)
“But it is especially necessary to recognize the unique place that, in this field, belongs to the mission of married couples and Christian families, by virtue of the grace received in the sacrament. This mission must be placed at the service of the building up of the Church, the establishing of the Kingdom of God in history. This is demanded as an act of docile obedience to Christ the Lord. For it is He who, by virtue of the fact that marriage of baptized persons has been raised to a sacrament, confers upon Christian married couples a special mission as apostles, sending them as workers into His vineyard, and, in a very special way, into this field of the family.” (#71)
“No one is without a family in this world: the Church is a home and family for everyone, especially those who “labor and are heavy laden.” ” (#85)
“The future of humanity passes by way of the family.” (#86)