In his Sunday Angelus address Pope Francis stressed the role of spouses in generating children, and asked for prayers ahead of the synod discussions beginning tomorrow. The Pope opened his Oct. 4 address by noting how he had just celebrated Mass opening the Ordinary Synod of Bishops on the Family, which will reflect on the theme “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and the modern world.” Set to last from Oct. 4-25, this year’s synod follows last year’s extraordinary synod of bishops on the family, which focused on pastoral challenges regarding family life. Francis invited those gathered in St. Peter’s Square for the tradition Marian prayer “to sustain the work of the synod with prayer, so that the Holy Spirit renders the synod fathers fully docile to his inspirations.” In his reflections on the Gospel, the Pope focused on the first reading from Genesis, which recounted the story of creation. He noted how the passage underlines “the complementarity and reciprocity between man and woman,” and said that, as stated in the bible, it’s because of this that a man leaves his father and mother and be joined to his wife. The two then “become one flesh, one life, one existence,” Francis said, explaining that it’s withing this union that “spouses give life to new human beings: they become parents.” Spouses, he said, “participate in the creative power of God himself,” but cautioned that since God is love, we only participate in his work “when we love with and like him.” As St. Paul says, love has been poured into each of our hearts through the Holy Spirit, the Pope said, explaining that this is the same love given to spouses in the sacrament of marriage. “It's love that awakens the desire to create children, to wait for them, to welcome them, raise them, educate them,” he said. Francis then that this is the same love Jesus shows to the children on the day’s Gospel from Mark, when he says “let the children come to me,” and blesses them. He asked that all parents and educators, as well as society as a whole, would become instruments of the welcome and love with which Jesus embraced the little ones. Drawing attention to all the children who are hungry, abandoned, exploited, forced into war or rejected, the Pope said that “it's painful to see the images of unhappy children, with a lost gaze, who flee poverty and conflicts, knocking on our doors and hearts asking for help.” Francis prayed that the Lord help us not to be “a fortress-society, but a family-society,” that, with the proper rules in place, is still capable of welcoming. Pope Francis said that throughout the upcoming synod discussions, participants their eyes fixed on Jesus in order to identify the best ways to respond to the needs and challenges of families today. “On the basis of his teaching of love and mercy,” he said, they will seek “the most appropriate paths for an adequate commitment with families and for families so that the original design of the Creator for man and woman can be implemented and operated in all its beauty and strength in today's world.” Before leading pilgrims in the tradition Marian prayer, Francis closed his address by asking for prayers for the synod and for the intercession of Mary.