15 April 2016
In his recent letter Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis encourages young married couples to develop a routine in their daily life. He suggests a morning kiss, an evening blessing, waiting at the door for the others return, trips together, sharing household chores, and celebrating together.
The Pope insists that no family drops down from heaven perfectly formed. Families need to grow and mature in the ability to love. Becoming evangelised in Christ is a certain way to grow closer to each other.
To ensure family happiness the Pope begins with preparation for marriage. He remarks that those with the best chance of forming a happy family are people who come from good homes and mature parents. Family life is centered on love. But the Pope warns that love is much more than physical attraction, it cannot be based exclusively on desire for desires are unpredictable. Love is much more than vague affection.
Coming towards marriage the individuals must become aware of the limitations of the other. The other person is not God, the other person “is a work in progress”. What will assist in forming a good marriage is real and shared reflection. The Pope remarks that some marry without knowing each other. First we must reflect, we must ask “What do I expect from marriage?” and “What do I mean by love?”
Coming to Marriage Day the Pope requests that only those who really love each other should marry. While the marriage day and ceremony will be carefully prepared for we must not exaggerate. Burdened with invitations, clothes, budgets, relatives, guests, celebrations, getting one’s hair done he feels that it is better to be more simple about the arrangements so that the couple can concentrate on the love they have for each other rather than externals. They should make the liturgy a real personal experience. This can be done by praying together before marriage and preparing the readings together. The new couple must not be afraid that fidelity compromises freedom. The world is ruined by unkept promises.
Newly married couples, though they love to be alone, do in fact need accompaniment. From the beginning they must be patient with each other for marriage is a lifelong project. They must not expect the other to be perfect or to become too critical or issue ultimatums. In a happy home, each will put the happiness of the others first. The Pope feels that people need to approach difficulties without the attitude of winners and losers. Both should be winners. To cement the relationship they must have quality time together and be present to each other. The Pope insists that they must look at each other. Planning free time together, celebrating events, spending time together with the children will keep their love alive. The Pope warns that love must not become stale or stagnant but must keep on dancing.
The Pope invites young couples to engage in responsible parenthood and family planning. He absolutely insists that the couples themselves must take decisions regarding having children. In making these decisions they must take into account their own welfare and that of their other children. They will reckon on the material and spiritual conditions of life and use methods based on the laws of nature and the incidence of fertility.
+William Slattery OFM
Archbishop of Pretoria