MANILA — Pope Francis told families he met at the Mall of Asia Arena on Friday evening to continue to dream, as it is not possible to have a family without such dreams.
“When you lose this capacity to dream, you lose the capacity to love, the capacity to love is lost. I recommend that at night, when you examine your conscience, ask yourself if you dreamed of the future of your sons and daughters,” he said in his message to the thousands of people who packed the venue for the Pope’s meeting with families.
The Pontiff arrived at the arena at 5:13 p.m., going around the area in his popemobile to greet the well-wishers who came, even stopping to kiss a baby girl from the crowd.
Pope Francis received a warm welcome from the 15,000 people waiting for him inside the arena.
The program started with welcome remarks from Atty. King Rodrigo, whose family was selected to represent the Filipino families.
The 100-year-old Mrs. Remedios Enriquez-Rodrigo, wife of the late senator Francisco “Soc” Rodrigo and the family matriarch, gave Pope Francis a garland made of sampaguita flowers.
Representatives of three families then gave testimonies regarding their lives. The first representative told of how they survive a life of poverty, the second told of their life with a parent working abroad, and the third represented families with physically disabled members.
In his message, Pope Francis emphasized the importance of rest, saying it is necessary for the health of minds and bodies but difficult to achieve due to the many demands of daily life.
“But rest is also essential for our spiritual health, so that we can hear God’s voice and understand what he asks of us,” he said, advising families to make time for prayer each day despite their busy schedules, as “without prayer, we will accomplish very little.”
The Pope further warned of dangers threatening families.
“We must be attentive to the new ideological colonization. Beware of the new ideological colonization that tries to destroy the family. It is not born of the dream that we have from God and prayer – it comes from outside and that’s why I call it a colonization,” he said.
“Let us not lose the freedom to take forward the mission God has given us, the mission of the family. And just as our peoples were able to say in the past ‘No’ to the period of colonization, as families, we have to be very wise and strong to say ‘No’ to any attempted ideological colonization that could destroy the family.”
The pressures on family life today are many, he said, noting that in the Philippines, countless families are still suffering from the effects of natural disasters.
“The economic situation has caused families to be separated by migration and the search for employment, and financial problems strain many households. While all too many people live in dire poverty, others are caught up in materialism and lifestyles, which are destructive of family life and the most basic demands of Christian morality,” he said, adding that the family is also threatened by growing efforts of those who redefine the institution of marriage, by relativism, and by a lack of openness to life.
“Our world needs good and strong families to overcome these threats,” he said.
“So protect your families! See in them your country’s greatest treasure and nourish them always by prayer and the grace of the sacraments. Families will always have their trials, but may you never add to them!”
Pope Francis urged families to be living examples of love, forgiveness and care and to respect life, “proclaiming the sacredness of every human life from conception to natural death”.
Finally, he encouraged families to “go beyond your homes and to care for our brothers and sisters who are most in need”.
“I ask you especially to show concern for those who do not have a family of their own, in particular those who are elderly and children without parents. Never let them feel isolated, alone and abandoned, but help them to know that God has not forgotten them,” he said.
Throughout his 31-minute talk, the Pope switched from English to Spanish, in which case his message was translated.
The program ended with Jamie Rivera singing to Pope Francis the official song for his visit, “We are All God’s Children”.
The Pope left the arena past 7 p.m.