"Conviviality is a reliable thermometer to measure the health of the relationships: if there is something wrong in a family, or if there is a hidden wound, it soon becomes clear at table." Pope Francis said this yesterday morning in St. Peter's Square at the beginning of the General Audience. "Sharing and knowing how to share—he continued—is a precious virtue! Its symbol, its 'icon,' is the family gathered around the table at home. Sharing a meal—and then, in addition to the food, also suffering, stories, events...—is a fundamental experience. When there's a party, a birthday, an anniversary, we meet around the table. In some cultures, it is even a custom to do so when mourning, in order to be close to those in sorrow because of the loss of a family member."
"A family that almost never eats together at the table or, when it does, does not speak but watches TV or the smartphone—said Pope Francis—, this family is 'hardly a family.' When the children at the table are attached to their computer, to the cell phone, and do not listen to each other, this is not a family; it is a boarding house."
Francis then explained that, "in our time, marked by so many closures and by too many walls, the conviviality generated by the family and expanded by the Eucharist becomes a crucial opportunity" that "we must find ways to recover: at the table we speak with one another, at the table we listen to each other. There must be no silence. That is not the silence of monks; it is the silence of selfishness: each one has his computer or television... and they do not talk to each other. No, there must be no silence. Family conviviality has to be recovered and adapted to the times. Conviviality seems to have become something that is bought and sold, but that makes it into something else. And nutrition is not always the symbol of the equitable sharing of goods, able to reach those who have neither food nor affection. [...] When there is no conviviality, there is selfishness—he said—all only think of themselves. This is even truer since advertising has reduced it to the languor for snacks and a craving for sweets. While too many brothers and sisters are still away from the table. This is a bit shameful, isn't it?"