VATICAN CITY (CNS) — A family that chooses to watch TV or play with their smartphones rather than talk at the dinner table is “hardly a family,” Pope Francis said.
“When children at the dinner table are glued to the computer, or the telephone and do not listen to one another, they are not a family, they are retired,” the pope said Nov. 11 during his weekly general audience.
Continuing his catechetical series on family life, the pope reflected on the theme of togetherness, which is manifested at the dinner table. The pope said that “to share a meal — and not just food, but also affection, stories, events — is a fundamental experience.”
The pope said Christians have a special vocation to foster family togetherness. The dinner table, he noted, is the place chosen by Jesus to teach his disciples and where he summarized the meaning of his death on the cross “that nourishes true and everlasting love.”
For this reason, the family feels “at home” at the celebration of the Eucharist where they bring their “experience of togetherness and open it to the grace of a universal coexistence, of the love of God for the world,” he said.
“Through the participation in the Eucharist, the family is purified of the temptation to be closed in on itself; it is strengthened in love and fidelity, and stretches the boundaries of brotherhood according to the heart of Christ,” the pope said. “There are no little ones, orphans, weak ones, defenseless, wounded and disillusioned, desperate and abandoned ones that the eucharistic togetherness of the family can’t nourish, refresh, protect and care.”
However, the pope said that there are obstacles to family togetherness and Christians are called to overcome them. At the dinner table, he said, families speak and listen, but “there can’t be any silence that is not the silence of monks but of selfishness, of the cellphone, of the television.”
People in wealthier countries, in particular, are enticed to spend money on excessive amounts of food that ultimately distract from the “true hunger of the body and the soul,” he said.
“When there is no togetherness, there is selfishness and each one thinks of him- or herself,” the pope said. Advertisements have picked up on the loss of animated family meals and instead offer “a listlessness of snacks and hankering for sweets while so many of our brothers and sisters remain far from the table. What a shame!”
Pope Francis called on families to contemplate the mystery of the Eucharist in which “Christ breaks his body and shares his blood for all. There is no division that can resist this sacrifice of communion.”
Christian families who embrace this calling of togetherness, “cooperate with the grace of the Eucharist, which has the power to create an always new communion that includes and saves,” he said.
Join the CatholicPhilly.com family
CatholicPhilly.com works to strengthen the connections between people, families and communities every day by delivering the news people need to know about the Catholic Church, especially in the Philadelphia region, and the world in which we live.
By your donation in any amount, you and hundreds of other people become part of our mission to inform, form in the Catholic faith and inspire the thousands of readers who visit every month.
Here is how you can help:
- A $100 gift allows us to present award-winning photos of Catholic life in our neighborhoods.
- A $50 gift enables us to cover a news event in a local parish, school or Catholic institution.
- A $20 gift lets us obtain solid faith formation resources that can deepen your spirituality and knowledge of the faith.
- A small, automated monthly donation means you can support us continually and easily.
Won't you consider making a gift today?
Please join in the church's vital mission of communications by offering a gift in whatever amount that you can ― a single gift of $40, $50, $100, or more, or a monthly donation. Your gift will strengthen the fabric of our entire Catholic community and sustain CatholicPhilly.com as your trusted news source. Thank you in advance!
Make your donation by credit card here:
Or make your donation by check:
222 N. 17th Street
Philadelphia, PA 19103
PREVIOUS: To help people, church must be in touch with ‘reality,’ pope says
NEXT: Evangelization congregation denies mismanaging property
Share this story