A. What is it?
“Familiaris Consortio” is a post-synodal apostolic exhortation written by Pope John Paul II and promulgated on 22 November 1981.
“Familiaris Consortio” means ‘The fellowship of the family.’ It is subtitled ‘On the Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World.’
B. What does it speak of?
The document describes the position of the Catholic Church on the meaning and role of marriage and the family, and outlines challenges towards realizing that ideal.
It refers to marriage as “one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our time”
“Familiaris Consortio” consists of 4 parts:
Part ONE: BRIGHT SPOTS AND SHADOWS FOR THE FAMILY TODAY
The Church is called to be a prudent observer of the challenges and opportunities which face today’s family. The Church must listen to the questions and concerns of married couples.
In responding to the needs of young married couples and families, the Church must offer
the truth of the Gospel as a source of inexhaustible grace rather than follow majority opinion.
This truth is urgently needed today because of the challenges faced by families: divorce, abortion, sterilization, contraception, the decay of parental authority, and a general weakening of the marriage bond between husband and wife.
The spiritual and moral renewal of marital and family life brings about a much-needed elevation of society in general.
PART TWO – THE PLAN OF GOD FOR MARRIAGE AND THE FAMILY
The human person was created by God out of love, and each is called to love within his or her vocation.
Love is the calling of each person.
Marriage and family life are special opportunities to live the vocation of love.
The love between husband and wife mirrors the love between Christ and his Church – that is, this love is sacrificial and life – giving
Married life is enriched and becomes a family, with the gift of children.
Virginity and celibacy do not deny the dignity of married and family life; rather, they highlight the call to love and the need to wait in patient hope for the Bridegroom – Jesus Christ.
PART THREE – THE ROLE OF THE CHRISTIAN FAMILY: BECOME WHAT YOU ARE
The family is part of God’s plan for creation and salvation.
It is within the family that the human person comes to be whom he or she is and comes to know the living God.
Love within the family reveals in a special way the unbounded love of God.
Family love involves four general callings: (1) Forming a community of persons; (2) Sharing a love which serves life; (3) Participating in the development of society; (4) Sharing in the life and mission of the Church.
Being faithful to these four callings to love, the family is a living proclamation of the Gospel and the truth of Jesus Christ.
PART FOUR – PASTORAL CARE OF THE FAMILY
The family is called to grow through a constant conversion to the will of God.
The Church is called to care, in the name of Jesus, for married couples and for families.
The Church must encourage and support those preparing for marriage and those who daily accept the challenges to be faithful to their marital vows.
Those who find themselves in difficult marital and family situations (mixed marriages, trial marriages, divorce, separation, and domestic violence) are in need of special pastoral care by the Church.
Pastoral ministry to those in difficult situations flows from the words and example of Jesus to love and be close to the broken-hearted, rejected, and suffering.
In conclusion, the model of true marriage and family life is the Holy Family: St. Joseph is the upright guardian of the family; Mary is the one entrusted with the Word made flesh; and Jesus is the child who perfectly does the will of the Father.
The Pope prays that each Family will be a holy family to the glory of God.
C. Pointers for Reflections
- The family is a community of life and love.
The Holy Father keeps these two words together – life and love.
‘Love and life’ are never to be torn apart; which is very different from “planned parenthood” or “family planning”.
- The family is the first living cell of society.
Families produce, nourish and form individuals who will in turn go on to make new families. This is the natural cycle of society.
The Christian family serves the poor, the outcast, the lonely and the weakest ones.
- The family must become what it is.
The family must develop its full potential according to God’s plan…
… for its own inner life as a community of persons based on marriage
… for its service of life
… for its wider role in society
… and for its life of faith within the Church
D. What virtues/points can we pick up from “Familiaris Consortio” for this Season of Lent?
- Deepening our bonding in the family
- As a Christian Family, reach out in service to others
E. Tips to practice these virtues
- Introduce practises that help to unite – maybe some have been forgotten or missed (eg. Family Prayer, Family Meals, Sharing together – leaving aside all electronic gadgets)
- Choose 3 families to whom we as a family can reach out – either with financial/material/spiritual/emotional assistance
May this Lent and the familiarity with “Familiaris Consortio” help us to grow in our acclamation: “Eureka – I have found the Lord”
CLICK TO READ the Full Text of “Familiaris Consortio” at:
God Bless! Live Jesus!