Pope Francis meets with a family that gave testimony during the Festival of Families in Croke Park stadium in Dublin Aug. 25. (CNS PHOTO BY PAUL HARING)
Pope Francis meets with a family that gave testimony during the Festival of Families in Croke Park stadium in Dublin Aug. 25. (CNS PHOTO BY PAUL HARING)
During the Festival of Families in Dublin’s Croke Park Stadium on Aug. 25, Pope Francis told the Catholic families from around the world, “God wants every family to be a beacon of joy of His love to our world.”

The festival, which took place during the Aug. 21-16 World Meeting of Families, featured families from India, Canada, Iraq, Ireland and Burkina Faso who stood on stage near the pope while pre-recorded video versions of their testimonies played.

The Canadian couple, Marissa and Aldo d'Andrea of Toronto, spoke about their 54 years of marriage, their four children and 13 grandchildren – and one on the way.

The Iraqi couple, Enass and Sarmaad Mekhael, are refugees living in Australia. Enass' brother was Father Ragheed Aziz Ganni, a 35-year-old Chaldean Catholic priest murdered in 2007 at a parish in Mosul, Iraq.

The families, who have faced joys and heartache and have held on to each other and to their faith, are models of how each Catholic family is called to give a witness in the world to the love of God, the pope said.

One key aspect of God's love is God's willingness to forgive, and that is an essential part of family life, too, the pope said.

Every family experiences tensions and arguments, the pope said, but "sometimes you are angry and tempted to sleep in another room – alone and apart – but just knock on the door and say: 'Please, can I come in?' All it takes is a look, a kiss, a sweet word and everything returns to normal."

Pope Francis said the stories shared by the couples clearly show the strength and power that come from faith and from the grace of sacramental marriage.

"The love of Christ that renews all things is what makes possible marriage and a conjugal love marked by fidelity, indissolubility, unity and openness to life," he said. "God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – created mankind in his image to share in his love, to be a family of families and to enjoy the peace that he alone can give."

Earlier that day, the pope met with more than 350 recently married or soon-to-be married couples in Dublin’s St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral.

Looking at all the young couples in the pro-cathedral, Pope Francis told them he found it hard to believe how people say that young people don't want to get married anymore. "To marry and share your life is a beautiful thing," he said, thanking them for their witness.

He also had some kind words for the babies whose cries rang out occasionally during the meeting. "It's beautiful to hear that music, the babies crying," he said. "It's the most beautiful music and the best preaching because it is a cry of hope."

"Love is God's dream for us and for the whole human family," the pope told the couples. "Please, never forget this! God has a dream for us, and he asks us to make it our own."

Many people today wonder if there is anything that can last forever, the pope said, but "marriage is unique."

"It is about a love that gives rise to new life," he said. "It involves mutual responsibility for the transmission of God's gift of life, and it provides a stable environment in which that new life can grow and flourish."

The sacrament of marriage, he said, adds to that relationship a share "in the mystery of God's eternal love. When a Christian man and a woman enter into the bond of marriage, the Lord's grace enables them freely to promise one another an exclusive and enduring love. Their union thus becomes a sacramental sign of the new and eternal covenant between the Lord and his bride, the Church."

When couples have children, the pope said, they are responsible for educating them in the faith and in love, a task that is accomplished most of all through example: praying together, going to Mass and helping the poor, and being affectionate with one another.

"The virtues and truths the Lord teaches us are not necessarily popular in today's world, which has little use for the weak, the vulnerable and all those it deems 'unproductive,'" he told the couples. "The world tells us to be strong and independent, with little care for those who are alone or sad, rejected or sick, not yet born or dying."

"Our world needs a revolution of love," the pope said. "Let that revolution begin with you and your families!"