By Hannah Brockhaus
Pope Francis encouraged attendees at an evening festival for the World Meeting of Families to radiate joy into the world like lighthouses radiate light – giving an example for other families to follow.
“God wants every family to be a beacon of the joy of his love in our world,” the pope said Aug. 25 inside Dublin’s Croke Park stadium.
“What does this mean? It means for a family to be a lighthouse everyone can follow. It means that we, who have encountered God’s saving love, try, with or without words, to express it in little acts of kindness in our daily routine and in the most hidden moments of our day.”
“What is this called? This is called holiness,” he said. And he exclaimed that families are “the hope of the Church and of the world!”
“By your witness to the Gospel, you can help God’s dream to come true. You can help to draw all God’s children closer together, so that they can grow in unity and learn what it is for the entire world to live in peace as one great family,” he said.
Before his speech, the pope watched several choir and dance performances, and listened to six testimonies from families of different backgrounds and countries telling how they are living the “joy of the Gospel.”
The families were from India, Iraq, Burkina Faso, Ireland, and Canada. One couple shared how they overcame heroin addictions and now have a family of 10 children.
The family from Iraq, who now lives in Australia, told Pope Francis about how their son and brother, Fr. Ragheed Ganni, was killed several years ago by terrorists after saying Mass.
The Indian family explained the importance they place on quality family time and how they choose to limit use of technology.
Responding to these testimonies in his address, the pope praised a limiting of technology, which he said can be dangerous because it puts each person in his or her own “orbit” and away from concrete reality.
He also noted that social media can be used for good, such as to maintain connections with people they may have met at the World Meeting of Families this week.
Families should discern, however, if they might need to cut down on technology time in their house to spend more time as a family and in prayer, he said.
He praised the family from Iraq for responding to the evil of their son and brother’s murder with forgiveness. “Almost incredibly, they were able to find love in the peace of Christ, a love that makes all things new,” he said.