On the Sacrament of Marriage

"Married life is a most beautiful thing and we must guard it always"

Vatican City, (Zenit.org) | 4276 hits

Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis on the sacraments today during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square.

* * *

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

Today we conclude the series of catecheses on the Sacraments speaking of Marriage. This Sacrament leads us to the heart of God’s plan, which is a covenant plan with His people, with all of us, a plan of communion. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the first Book of the Bible, as the crowning of the account of creation, it states: “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” (Genesis 1:27; 2:24).

The married couple is the image of God: the man and the woman, not only the man, not only the woman, but both. This is the image of God: the love, the covenant of God with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created to love, as reflection of God and of His love. And in the conjugal union the man and the woman realize this vocation in the sign of reciprocity and of communion of a full and definitive life.

When a man and a woman celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, God, so to speak, is “mirrored” in them, He imprints in them His own features and the indelible character of His love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. God, in fact, is also communion: the three Persons of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Spirit have lived always and forever in perfect unity. And this is in fact the mystery of Marriage: God makes of the two spouses a single existence. The Bible uses a strong expression and states “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 that is mirrored in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore, 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 states – one flesh.

In the Letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul highlights the fact that a very great mystery is reflected in Christian spouses: the relationship established by Christ with the Church, a nuptial relationship (cf. Ephesians 5:21-33). The Church is the Bride of Christ. This is the relationship. This means that Marriage responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et spes, 48; Familiaris consortio, 56). It is a consecration: the man and the woman are consecrated in their love. By virtue of the Sacrament, the spouses are invested in fact in a true and proper mission, so that they can render visible, from simple ordinary things, the love with which Christ loves his Church, continuing to give his life for her, in fidelity and in service.

It is truly a stupendous plan that is inherent in the Sacrament of Marriage! And it is acted out in the simplicity and also in the fragility of the human condition. We know well how many difficulties and trials the life of two spouses has. What is important is to keep alive the bond with God, who is the basis of the conjugal bond. And the true bond is always with the Lord. When the family prays, the bond is maintained. When the husband prays for the wife and the wife prays for the husband, the bond becomes strong; one prays for the other.

It is true that in matrimonial life there are many difficulties, many: work, lack of money, children having problems – so many difficulties. And so often the husband and wife become a bit nervous and quarrel between themselves. They quarrel -- it is always so in marriage -- sometimes even plates fly. However, we must not become sad because of this; the human condition is like this. And the secret is that love is stronger from the moment there is quarreling, so I always advise spouses: Never end the day when you quarreled without making peace. Always! And it is not necessary to call the United Nations to come to one’s home to make peace. A small gesture, a caress, a hello is sufficient! And until tomorrow -– and tomorrow one begins again. And this is life; it must be carried forward thus, carried forward with the courage of wanting to live it together. And this is great, it is beautiful! Married life is a most beautiful thing and we must guard it always, protect the children.

At other times I have said in this square something that helps marital life a lot. They are three words that must always be said, three words that must be in the home: please, thank you, sorry [permesso, grazie, scusa] -- three magical words. 

Please, so as not to be invasive in the life of the spouse. Please, but what does this seem to you? Please, allow me.

Thank you: to thank one’s spouse: thank you for what you did for me, thank you for this. The beauty of rendering thanks!

And as we all make mistakes, the other word which is a bit difficult to say, but which must be said: sorry.

Please, thank you, sorry. With these three words, with the prayer of the husband for his wife and vice versa, with making peace always before the day ends, the marriage will go forward -- the three magical words, prayer and always making peace.

May the Lord bless you and pray for me.

* * *

Speaker:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:

Today we conclude our catechesis on the sacraments with the sacrament of Matrimony, which brings us to the very heart of God’s loving plan for the human family. The Triune God created us – men and women – in his image and calls us to mirror the mystery of his love. Married couples carry out this vocation in a full and definitive communion of life. As “one flesh”, they become living icons of God’s love in our world, building up the Church in unity and fidelity. Christian marriage also reflects the mystery of Christ’s own faithful and sacrificial love for his body, the Church. Christian spouses thus receive a special consecration and a special mission. While a noble vocation, marriage is not an easy one: it must constantly be strengthened by a living relationship with the Lord through prayer: mornings and evenings, at meals, in the recitation of the Rosary, and above all through the Sunday Eucharist. Today let us pray for all families, especially those experiencing difficulties, so that by God’s mercy they can always be joyful models of faith, love and generous service in our communities.

Holy Father (In Italian):

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.

* * *

I welcome the Italian-speaking pilgrims! I welcome the participants in the Seminar organized by the Pontifical Council for the Family; the Daughters of Our Lady of the Sacred Heart, who are holding their General Chapter, and the other women religious present. I greet the faithful of the parishes and the numerous groups, in particular the representation of the workers of ALCOA of Portovesme. I greet the Multiple-Sclerosis Association; the Association of Artillery Men of Italy and the Professional Soccer League. May this pilgrimage reinforce in everyone faith, hope and charity.

A special thought goes to the Jemo ‘Nnanzi group of Aquila, Jemo ‘Nnanzi. Five years after the earthquake devastated your city, I join you in prayer for the numerous victims, and I entrust to the protection of Our Lady of Roio all those who still live in hardship. I encourage all to keep hope alive! May the reconstruction of dwellings be accompanied by that of churches, which are houses of prayer for all, and of the artistic patrimony, to which the re-launching of the territory is linked. Jemo ‘Nnanzi.

I greet the young people, the sick and the newlyweds, remembering them with the liturgy of Saint Francis of Paola. Dear young people, especially you, of the Village of youngsters of Maddaloni, learn from him that humility is strength and not weakness! Dear sick, do not tire of asking in prayer for the Lord’s help. And you, dear newlyweds, compete in esteeming and helping one another.

[Translation by ZENIT]