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The Pope of the Family

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In his own service to the People of God, St. John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains — Pope Francis, Homily, Divine Mercy Sunday, 2014.

Whew. That was dramatic.

The III Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family, running from Oct. 5 to Oct. 19, was truly an extraordinary synod in every sense of the word, and it was covered intensely by the international media from around the world. So when we celebrate the feast of St. John Paul II for the very first time on Oct. 22, 2014, it's worth remembering that his legacy of teaching on the family was cited by Pope Francis as a crucial part of the Polish pontiff's legacy for the Church and the world.

It was a teaching given by word and deed: by his landmark encyclicals, post-synodal apostolic exhortations and theology of the body addresses; by the Catechism of the Catholic Church and the revised Code of Canon Law promulgated during his pontificate; by the manifest love of St. John Paul II for the Family of God, the Church, as well as for the human family, composed of people from every race, every nationality, every language, every home; by his pastoral care of youth and the faithful throughout his ministry as a priest, bishop, cardinal, and Pope.

So as we look back on an extraordinary synod in the rear view mirror, look forward to the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, Sept. 22-27, 2015, and the XIV Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops on the Family running from Oct. 4-25, 2015, let us do our part to become informed recipients of the teaching of St. John Paul II on the family, reading books like Fr. Michael Gaitley, MIC's The 'One Thing' is Three and Jason Free's Parenting On Purpose: 7 Ways to Raise Terrific Christian Kids that are influenced by St. John Paul's teaching, or learn more about St. John Paul himself from books like John Paul II: The Great Mercy Pope Beatification Edition by Fr. George Kosicki and DVDs like Nine Days That Changed The World.

Let us ask for St. John Paul II's intercession, that we may become the holy, loving members of families that we are meant to be. Let us ask his prayers for all those who struggle to obey the Lord's will in their family life, entrusting them to His loving providence and the intercession of the Blessed Mother.

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