A GOOD FATHER GIVES EXAMPLES OF LOVE, INTEGRITY, WISDOM, FAITH – POPE CALLS FOR PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS OF “FRATRICIDAL VIOLENCE” IN UKRAINE – CONSECRATED MEN AND WOMEN IN THE WORLD

A GOOD FATHER GIVES EXAMPLES OF LOVE, INTEGRITY, WISDOM, FAITH

Pope Francis Wednesday at the general audience in the Paul VI Hall continued his catechesis on the family, and spoke for the secvond week on the dignity and role of fathers. He noted how the Book of Proverbs “speaks of the joy and pride which fathers feel as they see their children mature in wisdom and rectitude. These words sum up the demanding but indispensable role of fathers in the family and in society as a whole. A good father teaches his children by giving a daily example of love and integrity. He must first discipline his own heart in order to deal patiently with his children in their growth to maturity.”

In Proverbs, the father says, “This is what I wanted to leave to you, so that it might become yours: feeling, acting, speaking and judging with wisdom and rectitude. And in order for you to be able to do this, I taught you things you did not know, I corrected errors you did not see. … I myself, first of all, had to test the wisdom of my heart, and monitor my excesses of sentiment and resentment, to bear the weight of the inevitable misunderstandings, and to find the right words to make myself understood.”

Francis said, “A father knows well how to transmit this legacy: with closeness, gentleness and firmness. However, what consolation and compensation he receives, when his children honour his legacy! It is a joy that repays every hardship, that overcomes every misunderstanding and heals every wound.”

“To be a good father,” stated the Pope, “the first requirement is “to be present in the family. To be close to his wife, to share in everything, joy and pain, burdens and hopes. And to be close to the children as they grow: when they play and when they make efforts, when they are carefree and when they are distressed, when they dare and when they are afraid, when they make missteps and when they return to the right path. A father must always be present, but,” he warned, “being present is not the same as controlling. Fathers who seek to control end up stifling their children; they do not let them grow.”

The Holy Father explained that, “like the father of the Prodigal Son, God waits patiently for his children to return home; with mercy and forgiveness he is always there to welcome them back whenever they stray. As Christian fathers strive, like Saint Joseph, to protect their children and to teach them wisdom, faith and integrity, may they always experience our gratitude, appreciation and support.

POPE CALLS FOR PRAYERS FOR VICTIMS OF “FRATRICIDAL VIOLENCE” IN UKRAINE

At the end of today’s catechesis the Pope launched an appeal for an end to the violence among the “beloved Ukrainian people. Unfortunately, the situation is worsening  and there is an escalation of hostilities between the parties. Let us pray firstly for the victims, many of whom are civilians, and their families, and let us ask the Lord for an end, as soon as possible, to this horrible fratricidal violence. I renew my heartfelt appeal that every effort be made – also at an international level – to resume dialogue, the only way possible to restore peace and harmony to this ravaged land.”

Then, speaking off-the-cuff, the Holy Father said, “when I hear the words ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’, I feel great suffering, a great sadness in my heart. These are not the right words: the only right word is ‘peace’. This is the only right word. I think of you, Ukrainian brothers and sisters. … Think, this is a war between Christians! You have all had the same baptism! You are fighting among yourselves, with other Christians. Think of this scandal. And let us all pray, so that our prayer might be our protest before God in this time of war.” (source VIS)

Vatican Radio reported that the United Nations says a fresh surge in violence in east Ukraine is proving “catastrophic” as at least 5,358 people have been killed since last April, including 224 civilians killed in three-week period leading up to 1 February. At least 16 civilians were killed and dozens more injured within a 24-hour period as well as five soldiers, officials said.

CONSECRATED MEN AND WOMEN IN THE WORLD

Pope Francis designated 2015 as the Year for Consecrated Life, a time for renewal and to show the world the power of fraternity. Some interesting statistics about consecrated men and women have been released by the Vatican’s Central Office for Church Statistics. The study ended December 31, 2013 and notes that, over the last 11 years, the number of consecrated women in the Church has diminished by 90,000, with death being the main cause for this decline. In 2002, there were 782,932 women religious: in 2013, there were 693,575.

The number of consecrated men remains essentially the same. In 2002, there were 192,552 consecrated men, whereas in 2013 there were 190,267.

The men’s religious order with the most members is the Society of Jesus (Jesuits – 17,287), followed by the Salesians of St. Bosco (15.573) and the Franciscans (14,123).