Column: Global conference on families will bring pope to philly

Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.
Deacon Tony Zimmerman is the lead archdiocesan consultant for the office of marriage and family life.

As Catholic Christians, we believe that God, not civil authority, is the author of marriage

by Deacon Tony Zimmerman

We believe that God creat- ed us male and female in his image and likeness so that we may love as he loves. St. John Paul II in his theology of the body tells us that like God’s love, marital love has four marks or qualities: being free, total, faithful, and fruitful.

This love for a spouse is driven by what the Holy Father called the “interior gaze” by which we see such a beauty and gift in the person we have come to love that we are willing to give our lives over in totality to that person. When my wife Barbara and I speak to engaged couples, we challenge them to spend time reflecting on just how precious is the love that their future spouce has for them. Imagine that one person could love you so much that they would trust their entire life to you!

In the words of the vows pronounced before the priest or deacon and the church each person basically says, “I am yours, no matter what. No matter what!”

It is in this total gift of self to our spouse in a love that is free, total, always faithful and life-giving that we make real in flesh-and-blood ways the love of God to the world. However, we need support to live out these values in a culture that is so opposed to such selfless love.

One source of support that will be available to families in our country and in our world will be found in the eighth World Meeting of Families to be held in Philadelphia from Sept. 22-27, 2015. Families

are invited to gather at this conference and share their thoughts, dialogue and prayers as they work together to grow in a deeper understanding of the Christian family’s role in the church and in the world.

During the six days, there will be opportunities to
hear presentations by many distinguished speakers on different aspects of family life. Each keynote session will be followed up by breakout sessions allowing the participants to delve more deeply into concepts that were presented. Mass and devotions are a part of every day. The highlight for many of those attending will be the presence of Pope Francis, who Archbishop Charles Chaput has said will attend this event.

A preparatory catechesis for this World Meeting of Families under the title of “Love Is Our Mission, The Family Fully Alive” is available online from Our Sunday Visitor publishers.

This catechesis is unfolded in 10 steps or chapters, complete with questions for discussion as family or parish groups. More information will be available online.


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