AMERICA/BRAZIL - National Pilgrimage for the Family to the Aparecida Shrine: "We ask the Blessed Virgin to extend her mantel over the families of Brazil, which are increasingly in need of her protection."
Aparecida (Agenzia Fides) – Nearly 30,000 people participated in a Mass celebrated this past Sunday, May 24, in the Shrine of Our Lady of Aparecida (Brazil), for the National Pilgrimage for the Family (see Fides 20/4/2009). Organized by the Bishops' Commission for Life and the Family, of the Brazilian Bishops' Conference (CNBB), with the theme "The Family, Disciple and Missionary at the Service of Life," the pilgrimage's main objective was to awaken consciences to the importance and value of the family in the midst of the current crises, as well as foster the family bonds present in the General Directives of the Evangelization of the Church in Brazil and the Aparecida Document. The CNBB decided on this date, as May has been chosen by the United Nations as the "Month of the Family." The religious importance of Aparecida for Brazil and the fact that Mary is the patron of the city, contributed to its being chosen to host the event, which was aired on Catholic programming all over the country.
According to the program of activities on Saturday, May 23, there was a Mass at 7pm in the National Basilica, followed by a torchlight procession. On Sunday, there was a Family Festival. At 8am, there was a Mass in the Basilica, followed by the Festival, featuring testimonies and musical presentations.
"We come to ask the Mother of God and Our Mother to extend her mantel over the families of Brazil, which are increasingly in need of her protection, on account of the great challenges they face in these days," said Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha of Mariana, President of the CNBB, in his homily on May 24. In his homily, he pointed out that the family "is the place for learning virtues, values, criteria, and attitudes essential in authentic social living." He also mentioned that the family only exists in a marriage between a man and a woman and therefore, "should not be confused with other forms of coexistence."
In order to strengthen the institution of the family, the President of the CNBB said in his homily, "there should be an intense and rigorous pastoral work in favor of the family." In this sense, according to Archbishop Geraldo, "it is important to multiply Family Associations that are capable of dialogue with the various political powers." These, in turn, should "make a solid commitment to promote methods of respecting, valuing, and protecting families."
He also recalled the importance of Social Communication in this sense, as it should "offer programming that is more in sync with the growth and development of the new generations, promoting a culture of life that is dignified and positive, reducing superficialities and vulgarity as well as aggressiveness and violence, promoting a culture of respect, dialogue, and friendship."
In concluding his homily, he asked Our Lady of Aparecida to accompany all the families on their earthly pilgrimage and teach them how to live in joy and unity, like the Family of Nazareth. (RG) (Agenzia Fides 26/5/2009)
Complete text of the homily of Archbishop Geraldo Lyrio Rocha