Marriage, he said, is the sacrament that “leads us to the heart of the design of God, that is a design of covenant with his people, with all of us, a design of communion.”
Citing the affirmation from Genesis, "God created man in His image ... man and woman He created them," the Pope explained that "the image of God is the married couple."
"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," the Holy Father said.
Francis added that in the conjugal union of man and woman, this vocation is realized, "as a sign of reciprocity and of the communion of a full and definite life.”
“Matrimony is the icon of the love of God with us. How beautiful," he exclaimed.
"The three persons of Father, of Son, and of the Holy Spirit live from always and for always in a perfect unity and the mystery of matrimony is just this: God makes the two spouses a single existence. And the Bible uses a strong expression and says: ‘One flesh.' So intimate is the union of man and woman in matrimony."
The true bond is always with God, said the Pope. When a family prays and the spouses pray for each other, the bond remains and it becomes stronger, he added.
Francis not only reflected on the theological depth of the marriage sacrament, but also gave some practical advice for married couples.
“It is true that in married life there are many difficulties, many, no?" he asked, noting some examples of the struggles that might arise: "work, there is not enough money, that the children have many problems … many difficulties.”
The Pope acknowledged that many times this causes the husband and the wife to become "a bit nervous and to quarrel."
"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 a 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."
Pope Francis also reiterated advice he gave during an address to engaged couples for St. Valentine's Day. He recommended three "magic words" that "must be in the home": "please, thank you, sorry [permesso, grazie, scusa] -- three magical words."
He invited married couples to say these words and acknowledged that sorry is the most difficult one to say.
“We repeat them all together!” the Holy Father said enthusiastically.
He elaborated: "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."
The Holy Father underscored how prayer and looking to Mary and Joseph as models will help married couples to help and forgive each other in everyday life. He added, “We thank the Lord for the many families who continue to animate our Christian communities, providing a precious service and a strong testimony of faith.” (D.C.L.)
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