With wedding season in full swing, we would like to share the Holy Father's marriage advice with readers preparing for the sacrament. This advice appeared in his 2014 St. Valentine's Day audience attended by over 10,000 young couples engaged to be married.
One couple sent a question to Pope Francis, which he addressed during the audience:
“Many feel that the challenge of living together forever is beautiful, enchanting, but very demanding, almost impossible. We ask your word to enlighten us on this.”
The Holy Father advised the couples that the secret for a successful marriage can be boiled down to three simple concepts: permission, thanks and forgiveness.
ONE: ASK PERMISSION
PLEASE. “Please – May I? We must learn to ask: May I do this? Would you like that we do this? We take this initiative, and that we bring up our children like this. Would you like to go out tonight? … In short, to ask for agreement is to enter the lives of others with courtesy. But keep this in mind: to be able to enter into the lives of others with courtesy. It is not easy, it is not easy. Sometimes instead, the manners can be a bit heavy, like hiking boots!”
Quoting St. Francis, the Pope said, “‘Know that courtesy is one of the properties of God … and courtesy is the sister of charity, which extinguishes hate and protects love.’ Yes, courtesy protects love. And today in our families, in our world, which is often violent and arrogant, we need much more courtesy. And this can begin at home.”
TWO: GIVE THANKS
THANK YOU. “It seems easy to say the word, but we know that is not always so … But it’s important! We teach it to the children, but then we forget it ourselves! Gratitude is an important quality. An old woman once said to me in Buenos Aires: ‘Gratitude is a flower that grows in the noble land.’ Nobility of the soul is necessary to grow this flower.
“Remember the Gospel of Luke?” He continued. “Jesus heals ten who are sick with leprosy, and then only one returns to say thanks to Jesus. The Lord says, and the other nine, where are they? This is also true for us: do we know how to say thanks? In your relationship, and then tomorrow in married life, it is important to keep alive the awareness that the other person is a gift of God, and for the gifts of God to say thank you! And in this inner attitude say thanks to each other for everything. It is not a kind word to use just with strangers, to show you are educated. It is necessary to know how to say thank you, in order to get along well together in married life.”
THREE: ASK FORGIVENESS
I AM SORRY, or excuse me. “In life we make so many errors, many mistakes…We learn to recognize our mistakes and apologize. ‘Sorry if I raised my voice today,’ ‘I’m sorry if I went without saying goodbye,’ ‘I’m sorry if I’m late,’ ‘If I have been so unresponsive this week,’ ‘If I talked too much without ever listening,’ ‘Excuse me, I forgot,’ ‘I was angry and I’m sorry I’ve taken it out on you’… This is how a Christian family grows.”
“Jesus, who knows us well, teaches us a secret: never end a day without asking for forgiveness, without peace coming back to our house, to our family,” the pope advised. “It is normal that there be a quarrel between husband and wife, but there’s always something to do about it. We had a fight … Maybe you’re angry, maybe a plate flew, but please remember this: never finish the day without making peace! Never, never, never! This is a secret, a secret to protect love and to make peace."
Pope Francis reminded couples that marriage must be refined and worked over daily, like “craftwork, a goldsmith’s work...Always act so that the other person will grow. Work for this.” The pope concluded this advice by painting a beautiful picture for each of the couples gathered with him, a vision of strong marriage:
“And so, maybe, I think that one day you will go through the streets of your country and people will say: ‘Just look at that woman, so beautiful, so strong! …It’s the husband she has, you know.’ And to you, too: ‘Look at him, what he is like! … It’s the wife he has, you know.’”
Watch this touching video with more advice to married couples from our Holy Father!
Celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage with our selection of Catholic wedding and anniversary gift ideas here.
This article has been updated and was originally published in June 2014. © The Catholic Company