Today marks the feast day of a modern saint. Saint John Paul II was a staunch defender of the family. I know many of our own families grew up with John Paul II, and remain fond of his pastoral care.
He was deeply moved by the troubles of the modern heart. John Paul matured in a hostile environment (World War II; Cold War), but he never lost hope. If you could summarize his message it was this, "Do not be afraid". Observing and analyzing with boldness yet gentleness the difficulties facing the modern era, he stated that Christ "fully reveals man to himself". In short, we cannot understand who we are without appreciating and embracing the real identity of Jesus Christ.
In a famous encyclical entitled Evangelium Vitae (The Gospel of Life), John Paul confidently stated that families can turn back the tide:
The family has a special role to play throughout the life of its members, from birth to death. It is truly “the sanctuary of life: the place in which life-the gift of God-can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed, and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth”. Consequently the role of the family in building a culture of life is decisive and irreplaceable.
And in an open letter to families in 1994, John Paul identified the importance of an education in love:
The gospel of love is the inexhaustible source of all that nourishes the human family as a "communion of persons". In love the whole educational process finds its support and definitive meaning as the mature fruit of the parents' mutual gift. Through the efforts, sufferings and disappointments which are part of every person's education, love is constantly being put to the test. To pass the test, a source of spiritual strength is necessary. This is only found in the One who "loved to the end" (Jn 13:1). Thus education is fully a part of the "civilization of love". It depends on the civilization of love and, in great measure, contributes to its upbuilding.