Pope Francis: wrinkles, wounds, scars in a family are the fruit of fidelity

Here is the translation of Pope Francis’ address at the meeting with families in the Victor Manuel Reyna Stadium at Tuxtla Gutierrez:


Dear brothers and sisters,

I am grateful to be here, on Chiapaneca soil. It feels good to be here on this soil, on this land; it is good to be here in this place which, with you here, has a family flavour, a home flavour. I give thanks to God for your faces and your presence; I give thanks to God because of the heart-beat of his presence in your families. I also thank you, families and friends, for giving us your witness, for opening to us the doors of your homes and your lives; you have allowed us to sit with you sharing both in the bread that nourishes you and in the sweat of your brow as you face the difficulties of every day. It is the bread representing the joys, the hopes and the hard sweat with which you confront sadness, disillusion and failings. I thank you for allowing me to enter into your families, your homes, and to sit at your tables.

I thank you for your witness and especially for your example. I liked the expression you used — “to put your heart into it” — describing the attitude you took after speaking with your parents. You began to put your heart into your life, your family, your friends; you put your heart into us gathered here. I believe that this is what the Holy Spirit always wants to do in our midst: to put a new heart into us, giving us reasons to keep on taking risks [as a family], dreaming and building a life that has this sense of home, of family.

This is something which God the Father has always dreamt of and for which [God the Father] has fought for a very long time. When everything seemed lost that afternoon in the Garden of Eden, God the Father put a new heart into that young couple and told them that everything was not lost. When the people of Israel felt that they could not go on journeying through the desert, God the Father put his heart into it by giving them manna from heaven. When the fullness of time came, God the Father put his heart into it by giving humanity the eternal gift of his Son.

Similarly, all of us here have had this experience, in different moments and different ways; God the Father has put his heart into it for us. We can ask ourselves: why? Because he cannot do otherwise. God, our Father does not know how to do anything other than love us, put his heart into things and carry us forward. He doesn’t know how to do any other thing.

He knows how to put his best into us; why? Because his name is love, his name is gift, his name is self-giving, his name is mercy. This he has shown us with complete power and clarity in Jesus, his Son, who risked everything to the end so as to once again make possible the Kingdom of God. A Kingdom that invites us to share in a new mindset, that puts into motion a dynamic power capable of opening the heavens, capable of opening our hearts, our minds, our hands and capable of challenging us with new possibilities. This is a Kingdom which has the feeling of family, the flavour of a life shared. In Jesus and with Jesus this Kingdom is possible. He is capable of changing our perspectives, attitudes, and feelings, which are often watery and dull. He can heal our hearts and invite us again and again, seventy times seven, to begin anew. He can make all things new.

Uncertainty, insufficiency, and often not having the bare essentials, can lead to despair, can make us deeply anxious because we cannot see a way forward, especially when we have children in our care. Uncertainty is not only a threat to our stomach (which is already serious), but it can also threaten our soul, demoralizing us and taking away our energy so that we seek apparent solutions that in the end solve nothing.

There is a kind of uncertainty which can be very dangerous, which can creep in surreptitiously; it is the uncertainty born of solitude and isolation. And isolation is always a bad counsellor.

The way to overcome the uncertainty and isolation which makes us vulnerable to so many apparent solutions, can be found on different levels. One is through legislation which protects and guarantees the bare necessities of life so that every home and every person can develop through education and dignified employment … On the other hand … laws and personal commitment make a good duo that can break the spiral of uncertainty.

Today we see how on different fronts the family is weakened and questioned. It is regarded as a model which has done its time, but which has no place in our societies; these, claiming to be modern, increasingly favour a model based on isolation. And they inoculate in our societies, which are called free, democratic societies, they go inoculating ideological colonizations that destroy them and in the end we are colonies of destructive ideologies that destroy the nucleus of the family, which is the base of every healthy society.

It is true that living in family is not always easy, and can often be painful and stressful but, as I have often said referring to the Church, I prefer a wounded family that makes daily efforts to put love into play, to a [family or] society that is sick from isolationism and habitually afraid of love. I prefer a family that makes repeated efforts to begin again, to a [family or] society that is narcissistic and obsessed with luxury and comfort — “No, we don’t have children because, of course, we like to go on vacations, be tourists, I want to buy myself a house in the country”. Luxury and comfort, and children get left behind. And when you want to have a child, your time already passed. What damage this does! I prefer a family with tired faces from generous giving, to faces with makeup that know nothing of tenderness and compassion.

I prefer a man and a woman … with the face wrinkled by the fight of every day, who after more than 50 years still love each other … In a family … there must be patience, love. You have to know how to forgive. “But, Father, a perfect family never fights” — that’s a lie! It’s advisable that sometimes they argue. And that a plate or two flies. It’s fine. Don’t be afraid of this. My only advice is that you don’t finish the day without making peace. Because if you finish the day at war then you wake up in a cold war, and a cold war is very dangerous in a family, because it goes undermining the relationship from below.

Married life has to be renewed each day. As I said before, I prefer wrinkled families, with wounds, with scars, but that continue going forward because these wounds, these scars, these wrinkles are the fruit of fidelity in a love that was not always easy. Love isn’t easy. It isn’t easy, no. But the most beautiful thing that a man and a woman can give each other is true love, for a lifetime.

I have been asked to pray for you and I want to do so now, with you. You Mexicans have something extra; you run ahead with an advantage. You have a Mother, la Guadalupana. She wanted to visit this land and this gives us the certainty of her intercession so that our dream, which we call the family, may not be lost through uncertainty or solitude. She is a mother. She is always ready to defend our families, [to defend] our future; she is always ready to put her heart into it by giving us her Son.




Note: For the purpose of focus and context, selected off-the-cuff remarks have been removed from this version.

Archdiocesan Commission for the Family

Archdiocesan Commission for the Family