The Sacrament of Matrimony
Pope Francis' Catechesis
General Audience, Wednesday 2 April 2014 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish
"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning.
Today we conclude the series of catecheses on the Sacraments by speaking about Matrimony. This Sacrament leads us to the heart of God’s design, which is a plan for a Covenant with his people, with us all, a plan for communion. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Bible, at the culmination of the creation account it says: “God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.... Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen 1:27; 2:24). The image of God is the married couple: the man and the woman; not only the man, not only the woman, but both of them together. This is the image of God: love, God’s covenant with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created in order to love, as a reflection of God and his love. And in the marital union man and woman fulfil this vocation through their mutual reciprocity and their full and definitive communion of life.
1. When a man and woman celebrate the Sacrament of Matrimony God as it were “is mirrored” in them; he impresses in them his own features and the indelible character of his love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. Indeed, God is communion too: the three Persons of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit live eternally in perfect unity. And this is precisely the mystery of Matrimony: God makes of the two spouses one single life. The Bible uses a powerful expression and says “one flesh”, so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God which is reflected in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore a man leaves his home, the home of his parents, and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become — the Bible says — one flesh.
2. St Paul, in the Letter to the Ephesians, emphasizes that a great mystery is reflected in Christian spouses: the relationship established by Christ with the Church, a nuptial relationship (cf. Eph 5:21-33). The Church is the bride of Christ. This is their relationship. This means that Matrimony responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et Spes, n. 48: Familiaris Consortio, n. 56). It is a consecration: the man and woman are consecrated in their love. The spouses, in fact, in virtue of the Sacrament, are invested with a true and proper mission, so that starting with the simple ordinary things of life they may make visible the love with which Christ loves His Church, by continuing to give his life for her in fidelity and service.
3. There is a truly marvellous design inherent in the Sacrament of Matrimony! And it unfolds in the simplicity and frailty of the human condition. We are well aware of how many difficulties two spouses experience.... The important thing it to keep alive their bond with God, who stands as the foundation of the marital bond. And the true bond is always the Lord. When the family prays, the bond is preserved. When the husband prays for his wife and the wife prays for her husband, that bond becomes strong; one praying for the other. It is true that there are so many difficulties in married life, so many, when there is insufficient work or money, when the children have problems. So much to contend with. And many times the husband and wife become a little fractious and argue between themselves. They argue, this is how it is, there is always arguing in marriage, sometimes the plates even fly. Yet we must not become saddened by this, this is the human condition. The secret is that love is stronger than the moment when there is arguing, and therefore I always advise spouses: do not let a day when you have argued end without making peace. Always! And to make peace it isn’t necessary to call the United Nations to come to the house and make peace. A little gesture is sufficient, a caress, and then let it be! Until tomorrow! And tomorrow begin again. And this is life, carrying on, carrying on with courage and the desire to live together. And this is truly great, it is beautiful! Married life is such a beautiful thing and we must treasure it always, treasure the children. On other occasions in this Square I have mentioned something else which is so helpful for marriage. There are three words that always need to be said, three words that need to be said at home: may I, thank you, and sorry. The three magic words. May I: so as not to be intrusive in the life of the spouses. May I, but how does it seem to you? May I, please allow me. Thank you: to thank one’s spouse; thank you for what you did for me, thank you for this. That beauty of giving thanks! And since we all make mistakes, that other word which is a bit hard to say but which needs to be said: sorry. Please, thank you, and sorry. With these three words, with the prayer of the husband for the wife and vice versa, by always making peace before the day comes to an end, marriage will go forward. The three magic words, prayer and always making peace. May the Lord bless you, and pray for me."
"Chers amis francophones, soyez les bienvenus! Je salue particulièrement les Frères de Taizé, avec le Frère Aloïs, les membres de l’Association française des journalistes d’information religieuse, ainsi que tous les jeunes. Rendons grâce au Seigneur pour toutes les familles qui animent nos communautés chrétiennes, par leur service des autres et par leur témoignage de foi! A tous je souhaite une bonne préparation aux fêtes pascales! Que Dieu vous bénisse!
I greet all the English-speaking pilgrims present at today’s Audience, including those from England, Wales, Denmark, Norway, Malta, Japan, Canada and the United States. I am pleased to welcome the Catholic Health Care Federation from the United States and the priests of the Institute for Continuing Theological Formation at the Pontifical North American College. Upon all of you, and upon your families, I invoke joy and peace in Christ our Lord.
Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an alle Pilger und Besucher deutscher Sprache. Ihr wisst, dass die christlichen Familien ein Zeichen der Einheit und Liebe in der Welt sind. Deshalb ist es gut, in unseren Familien zu beten, damit wir Gottes Hilfe aufnehmen können und das Geschenk seiner Gnade bewahren. Ich wünsche euch einen schönen Aufenthalt in Rom mit dem Segen des Herrn.
Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos venidos de España, Ecuador, México, Argentina, y otros países latinoamericanos. Invito a todos a dar gracias a Dios por tantas familias que animan nuestras comunidades cristianas, ofreciendo un hermoso testimonio de fe. Recemos también por los matrimonios en dificultad, para que el Señor les regale abundantemente su misericordia y los sostenga en medio de las pruebas. Muchas gracias.
Dou as boas-vindas a todos os peregrinos de língua portuguesa, nominalmente aos grupos escolares de Portugal e à delegação ítalo-brasileira. Rezemos por todas as famílias, especialmente por aquelas que passam por dificuldades, na certeza de que estas são um dom de Deus nas nossas comunidades cristãs. Que Deus vos abençoe!
أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربية، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ منالشرق الأوسط. تذكروا أيُّها الأزواجُ الأعزاء أنَّ في اتحادِكُم انعكاسٌ للثالوثِ الأقدس وأنتم بِنعمَة المسيحِ أيقونةٌ حيّةٌ وصادقةٌ لله ومحبَّتِهِ. ليباركَكُم الله!
Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente! Cari Sposi Ricordatevi che nella vostra unione c’è il riflesso della Santissima Trinità, e con la grazia di Cristo voi siete un’icona viva e credibile di Dio e del suo amore. Dio vi benedica!
Pozdrawiam serdecznie Polaków. Rocznica śmierci Błogosławionego Jana Pawła II, przypadająca dzisiaj kieruje naszą myśl do dnia jego kanonizacji, którą będziemy przeżywali na koniec tego miesiąca. Niech oczekiwanie na to wydarzenie będzie dla nas okazją do duchowego przygotowania się i ożywienia dziedzictwa wiary, jakie nam zostawił. Naśladując Chrystusa był on dla świata niezmordowanym głosicielem Bożego słowa, prawdy i dobra. Świadczył dobro nawet swoim cierpieniem. To było nauczanie jego życia, na które Lud Boży odpowiedział wielką miłością i czcią. Niech jego wstawiennictwo umocni w nas wiarę, nadzieję i miłość. W dniach tego przygotowania niech was wspiera moje Apostolskie Błogosławieństwo.
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Do il benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua italiana! Accolgo i partecipanti al Seminario promosso dal Pontificio Consiglio per la Famiglia; le Figlie di Nostra Signora del Sacro Cuore, che celebrano il Capitolo Generale, e le altre religiose presenti. Saluto i fedeli delle parrocchie e i numerosi gruppi, in particolare la rappresentanza dei lavoratori dell’ALCOA di Portovesme. Saluto l’Associazione Sclerosi Multipla; l’Associazione Artiglieri d’Italia e la Lega di calcio professionistico. Questo pellegrinaggio rafforzi in tutti la fede, la speranza e la carità.
Un pensiero speciale rivolgo al gruppo Jemo ‘Nnanzi dell’Aquila, Jemo ‘Nnanzi. A cinque anni dal terremoto che ha devastato la vostra città, mi unisco alla preghiera per le numerose vittime, e affido alla protezione della Madonna di Roio quanti ancora vivono nel disagio. Incoraggio tutti a tenere viva la speranza! La ricostruzione delle abitazioni si accompagni a quella delle chiese, che sono case di preghiera per tutti, e del patrimonio artistico, a cui è legato il rilancio del territorio. Jemo ‘Nnanzi.
Saluto i giovani, gli ammalati e gli sposi novelli, ricordando con la liturgia san Francesco di Paola. Cari giovani, specialmente voi, del Villaggio dei ragazzi di Maddaloni, imparate da lui che l’umiltà è forza e non debolezza! Cari malati, non stancatevi di chiedere nella preghiera l’aiuto del Signore. E voi, cari sposi novelli, gareggiate nello stimarvi e aiutarvi a vicenda."
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Blessed John Paul:
General Audience, 1 December 1982
As a sacrament born from the mystery of Redemption and, in a certain sense, reborn from the nuptial love between Christ and the Church (cf Eph 5,22-23), marriage is an efficacious expression of God's saving power, bringing to realization his eternal design even after sin and in spite of the concupiscence that is hidden in the hearts of every human being, both man and woman... As a sacrament of the Church, marriage is by nature indissoluble. As a sacrament of the Church it is also a word spoken by the Spirit, who exhorts man and woman to shape their whole life together by drawing strength from the mystery of the redemption of the body... The redemption of the body means... that hope which, in the context of marriage, can be defined as hope in daily life, hope in what is temporal...
The dignity of married couples... is expressed in their profound awareness of the sanctity of life, to which both contribute by participating – as co-founders of a family – in the forces belonging to the mystery of creation. In the light of this hope, which is linked to the mystery of the redemption of the body, this new human life, the child conceived and born of the conjugal union of its father and mother, opens itself to the "firstfruits of the Spirit" "to enter into the freedom of the glory of the children of God." And if "all creation is groaning in labor pains even until now", a special hope accompanies the woman in the pains of childbirth, namely the hope of "the revelation of the children of God" (cf Rm 8,19-23), a hope of which every newborn child carries a spark when it comes into the world... This is what Christ's words refer to when he called attention to the resurrection of the body..." They are children of God, being children of the resurrection.