On Valentine’s Day Pope Francis met with engaged couples in St. Peter’s Square. He had couples submit questions to him before the meeting and he chose three that he responded to as he spoke to them His responses speak to married couples just as they do those preparing for marriage. This post and the next two weeks will be based on his address.
ADDRESS OF THE HOLY FATHER FRANCIS TO COUPLES PREPARING FOR MARRIAGE
St. Peter’s Square, Friday, February 14, 2014
Question 1: The fear of “forever”
Your Holiness, many today think that to promise loyalty for life is too difficult an undertaking; many feel that the challenge of living together forever is beautiful, fascinating, but too demanding, almost impossible. We ask for your words to enlighten us on this.
( The Pope’s response) Thank you for your testimony and for your question. Let me explain: You have send me your questions in advance … You understand … And so I was able to reflect and think about an answer a bit more substantial.
It’s important to ask whether it is possible to love one another “forever”. This is a question we need to ask: Can you love each other “forever”? Today many people are afraid to make definitive choices. A boy said to his bishop: “I want to become a priest, but only for ten years.” He was afraid to make a definitive choice. But it is a general fear, particular to our culture. Making choices for the rest of their lives seems impossible. Today everything is changing rapidly, nothing lasts long … And this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say, “We’ll stay together as long as love lasts,” and then what? “All the best, and we’ll see each other around”… And thus ends the marriage. But what do we mean by “love”? Just a feeling, a psychological and physical condition? Sure, if that’s what it is, it cannot be built on solid ground.
But if love is a relationship , then it is a reality that grows, and we can also say by way of example that is built like a house. And we build the house together, not on our own! Building here means to encourage and help growth. Dear engaged people, you are preparing to grow together, to build this house, to live together forever. You do not want to base it on the sand of feelings that come and go, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God. The family is born from this project of love that wants to grow as you build a home that is a place of affection , help, hope, and support. As the love of God is permanent and forever, so also is love that founds the family: we want it to be stable and forever. Please, we must not let ourselves be conquered by the “culture of what is provisional”! This culture that invades us all today, this culture of the provisional. This does not work!
So how to cure this fear of “forever”? It is cured day by day entrusting ourselves to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual journey, made up of steps – small steps, steps of growth together – made in a commitment to become men and women mature in faith. Why, dear engaged couples, the “forever” is not only a matter of duration! A marriage is not successful if it just endures, but its quality is important. Being together and knowing how to love forever is the challenge of Christian spouses. I am reminded of the miracle of the multiplication of the bread: for you, the Lord can multiply your love and give it to you fresh and good every day. He has an endless supply! He gives you the love that is the foundation of your marriage and every day he renews it, strengthens it. It makes it even greater when the family grows with children. In this journey, prayer is important, it is necessary, always. Him for her, and her for him, and her both together. Ask Jesus to multiply your love.
In the Lord’s Prayer we say: “Give us this day our daily bread.” The bride and groom can learn to pray like that: “Lord, give us this day our daily love,” because the love of the spouses is the daily bread, the true bread of the soul, that which supports them to move forward. And the prayer: can we do a test to find out if we know how to say it? “Lord, give us this day our daily love.”
All together: [Engaged couples: “Lord, give us this day our daily love!”]
Say it again: [Engaged couples: “Lord, give us this day our daily love!”]
This is the prayer of engaged couples and married people. Teach us to love, to love each other! The more you entrust yourselves to the Lord, the more your love will be “forever”, capable of renewal, and will overcome every difficulty. That’s what I thought I wanted to tell you, responding to your question. Thank you!
Thoughts from Bob and Rita
We found this response from Pope Francis quite uplifting and affirming. We believe that as long as the two individuals in a relationship are growing as persons and use that growth to deepen and strengthen the love they share then, yes in indeed it can last forever. It is the reason we chose the title for our book, Forever and a Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage that Lasts a Lifetime. The “forever” becomes more attainable when a couple is constantly looking at ways to communicate, to strengthen their sexual communication and most importantly to engage in an active relationship with God. Couples need to find a method of communication that works for them. For nearly thirty years we wrote our thoughts and feelings on a chosen topic each day. We read what each other had written and then talked about it. It helped us to discover our own attitudes, thoughts, feelings and convictions as we wrote them for each other and then allowed the other to know us better by sharing them. The purpose was not to force either of us to change, but as we learned about ourselves and the effect that had on the other, we couldn’t help but change. We each became more of the person that God intended us to be and helped us to have the love necessary to found a family. While we no longer write each day we still experience the results of that each day in our ability to share ourselves with each other..
While Pope Francis didn’t directly address a sexual relationship we have no doubt that he would encourage couples to grow in that area of their relationship as well. The tenderness and intimacy that has grown as we talked about our sexual relationship and lived that out in our love making has also helped us to be the married couple that God wants for each of us.
We know we would not be where we are today in our relationship without recognizing that God and God’s love must be the center of our love. While we did many things to improve our communication and our sexual intimacy we know that it would not have happened if we did not trust God, draw on God’s strength, and allow God to work many miracles within us. We have never doubted the importance and power of prayer in our marriage. It is the spiritual cement that binds us together. We really like his asking the engaged couples and us to pray each day “Give us this day our daily love.” We believe this could transform marriage and if said with children could help solidify and transform families.
Please share your responses to Pope Francis in a comment, so that others can benefit from your insights.
Today’s scripture readings, reflection and prayer:
Bob & Rita’s book: Forever and Day: An Invitation to Create a Marriage That Lasts a Lifetime is available on Amazon.com or by contacting us. Also available for Kindle and Nook. Make a retreat with your spouse, at home, on your time. Readings, relationship tips, questions for discussion.