From Milan: Families Ask and the Pope Responds: An Interview with Benedict XVI
In the rite of marriage, the Church does not say:
I often think of the wedding of Cana. The first wine is wonderful: it is being in love. But it does not last to the end: a second wine must come, it must ferment and grow, mature. A definitive love that really becomes "second wine: is more wonderful, better than the first wine. And we must seek this.
Pope greets a family in Milan
MILAN,Italy (Chiesa) - This following exchange is excerpted from an article entitled "The Pope Finds the Good Wine in Milan". The spontaneous exchange took place while Pope Benedict XVI was at the Seventh World Meeting of Families where over 1,000,000 of the faithful gathered in Milan:
Q: Hi, pope! I am Cat Tien, I come from Vietnam. I am seven years old and I would like to introduce my family to you. This is my dad, Dan, and my mom's name is Tao, and this is my little brother Binh. I would really like to know something about your family and about when you were little like me...
A: Thank you, dearest, and your parents: thank you from my heart. So then, you have asked what my memories of my family are like: there are so many! I would like to say just a few things. For us, the essential point for the family was always Sunday, but Sunday already began on Saturday evening. Our father would read us the readings, the readings for Sunday, from a book very widespread in Germany at the time, in which the texts were also explained. That is how Sunday began: we were already entering into the liturgy, in an atmosphere of joy.
The next day we would go to Mass. I come from a home close to Salzburg, so we had a lot of music - Mozart, Schubert, Haydn - and when the Kyrie started, it was like heaven was opened.
And then at home it was important, of course, to have a big lunch together. And then we sang a lot: my brother is a great musician, already as a boy he made compositions for all of us, so the whole family would sing. Dad would play the zither and sing; those are unforgettable moments.
Then, of course, we went on trips and walks together; we were close to a forest and so walking in the forest was a very beautiful thing: adventures, games, etcetera.
In a word, we were of one heart and one soul, with so many shared experiences, even in very difficult times, because there was wartime, before the dictatorship, and then poverty. But this mutual love among us, this joy even over simple things was strong, and this made it possible to overcome and bear even these things.
It seems to me that this was very important: that even little things gave joy, because in this way the heart of the other was expressed. And in this way we grew up in the certainty that it is good to be a man, because we saw that the goodness of God was reflected in parents and siblings.
And to tell the truth, if I try to imagine a little of how it will be in heaven, it always seems to me like the time of my youth, of my childhood. Thus, in this context of trust, of joy, and of love, we were happy, and I think that in heaven it must be similar to what it was like in my youth. In this sense I hope to go "home," in going to "the other part of the world."
Q: Your Holiness, we are Fara and Serge, and we come from Madagascar. [...] The family models that dominate the West do not convince us, but we are aware that many traditional ways of our Africa must in some manner be overcome. [...] We want to get married and build a future together. We also want every aspect of our life to be guided by the values of the Gospel. But speaking of marriage, Your Holiness, there is one word that more than any other attracts us and at the same time frightens us: "forever"...
A: Dear friends, thank you for this testimony. My prayer accompanies you in this journey of engagement, and I hope that you can create, with the values of the Gospel, a family "forever." You made reference to different kinds of marriage: we know the "mariage coutumier" of Africa, and Western marriage. In Europe as well, to tell the truth, until the nineteenth century there was as now another dominant model of marriage: often marriage was in reality a contract between clans, in which there was an effort to preserve the clan, to open the future, to defend property, etcetera. The one was sought for the other on the part of the clan, hoping that the one would be suited to the other. It was this way in part in our towns as well. I remember that in a small town, in which I went to school, it was still this way in large part.
But then, beginning in the nineteenth century, there followed the emancipation of the individual, the freedom of the person, and marriage was no longer based on the will of others, but on one's own decision. First comes falling in love, then engagement, and then marriage. At that time, we were all convinced that this was the only correct model, and that love in and of itself would guarantee the "forever," because love is absolute, it wants all and therefore also the totality of time: it is "forever."
Unfortunately, reality is not like that: it can be seen that falling in love is beautiful, but perhaps not always perpetual, just as is sentiment: it does not remain forever. Therefore, it ...
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