|Visitation, Fra Angelico, 1434|
This past Sunday, the Church celebrated the 49th World Communications Day. In his message for the occasion, Pope Francis explored the theme, “Communicating the Family: A Privileged Place of Encounter with the Gift of Love.”
According to the Holy Father, “it is in the context of the family that we first learn how to communicate.” As can be seen in the story of the Visitation, we first learn to communicate in the womb, “where we begin to familiarize ourselves with the outside world within a protected environment, with the reassuring sound of the mother’s heartbeat.”
We continue to do this in our families, where we learn to accept each other’s differences, to speak the language that we receive from those who came before us, and most importantly, to pray. Even more specifically,
…we learn to embrace and support one another, to discern the meaning of facial expressions and moments of silence, to laugh and cry together with people who did not choose one other yet are so important to each other. This greatly helps us to understand the meaning of communication as recognizing and creating closeness. When we lessen distances by growing closer and accepting one another, we experience gratitude and joy.
In the family we learn to go beyond ourselves and to open our doors to others. We also experience our own limits and the limits of others. We learn to respect one another, to apologize, and to forgive. We learn how to become a “force for dialogue and reconciliation in society,” Pope Francis writes.
The modern media can be both a help and a hindrance to family communication, and media often contributes to the challenges younger generations now face. The family must help us to “learn once again how to talk to one another, not simply how to generate and consume information.”
In conclusion, Pope Francis writes:
The family…is not a subject of debate or a terrain for ideological skirmishes. Rather, it is an environment in which we learn to communicate in an experience of closeness, a setting where communication takes place, a “communicating community.”
Let us now ask Saint John Paul II, the Pope of the Family, to pray for us, that we may cultivate the art of genuine and loving communication in our families.