Vatican City ( AsiaNews) - Asking God every day for "our daily love", to build a home together on the "rock of true love, the love that comes from God", to learn how to say "please, thank you, I'm sorry" and never allow the sun set "without restoring peace to the Home, to the family. Above all making sure that the wedding day is a "celebration" in which the "outward signs reflect the presence of the Lord and remind you and all those present of the origin and the reason for your joy".
Heart shaped balloons invaded St. Peter's Square (see photo) held aloft by almost thirty thousand engaged couples. A different sort of St. Valentine's Day for the young couples who will get married within the next year and who are taking part in marriage preparation courses. They came from thirty different nations to meet with Pope Francis today.
After an exhibition of songs, dance and testimonies, the Pope responded to questions posed by three couples: fear of "forever", the "style" of married life and how weddings should be celebrated.
Responding to the first question Pope Francis said: "It's important to ask yourself if you can love each other forever. This is a question that we all have to ask ourselves. Nowadays many people are afraid to make life-long commitments, it seems impossible to them. A young man once said to his bishop: 'I want to become a priest, but only for ten years'. It's a question of our culture. Nowadays everything changes rapidly, nothing very lasts long ... And this mentality leads many who are preparing for marriage to say: 'we will stay together as long as we love each other'. And so the marriage ends. We will stay together for as long as our love lasts'. But what do we mean by 'love'? A mere emotion, a psycho-physical state? Certainly, if it is just this, it cannot provide the foundation for building something solid. But if instead love is a relationship, then it is a growing reality, and we can also say, by way of example, that it is built in the same way that we build a house. And we build a house together, not alone! ... You would not wish to build it on the shifting sands of emotions, but on the rock of true love, the love that comes from God. The family is born of this project of love that wishes to grow, as one builds a house that becomes the locus of affection, help, hope and support. Just as God's love is stable and lasts forever, we want the love on which a family is based to be stable and to last forever. We must not allow ourselves to be conquered by a 'throwaway culture'.
"This fear of 'forever' is cured by entrusting oneself day by day to the Lord Jesus in a life that becomes a daily spiritual path of common growth, step by step. Because 'forever' is not simply a question of duration! A marriage does not succeed just because it lasts; its quality is also important. To stay together and to know how to love each other for ever is the challenge Christian married couples face!".
"The Lord can multiply your love". "He has an endless supply! He gives you the love that is the foundation of your marriage and every day renews and strengthens it. And He makes even greater when the family grows with the birth of a child. But prayer is needed on this important path. Again, he for her and she for him. Ask Jesus to multiply your love. In the Our Father prayer we say, 'Give us this day our daily bread'. Married couples may also learn to pray, 'Give us this day our daily love', teach us to love each other, to care for each other. The more you entrust yourselves to the Lord, the more your love will be 'for ever', able to renew itself and to overcome every difficulty".
As for the "style" of married life, "living together is an art, a patient, beautiful and fascinating journey. It does not end with you falling in love with one another ... Indeed, that is just the beginning! This every day journey has its own rules which can be summarized in these three words, which I have repeated many times for families, and that you can learn to use already among yourselves: Please, thank you and sorry. 'Please' is a kind request to be able to enter into the life of someone else with respect and care. We must learn to ask: Please may I do this? Do you mind if we do it this way? That we take this initiative...that we raise our children in this way? Do you want to go out this evening? Saying please, asking for permission means knowing how to enter courteously into the lives of others. Listen to this: knowing how to courteously enter into the lives of others, that's not an easy thing! Sometime instead we can be a little heavy handed ... True love does not impose itself with hardness and aggression. In St Francis' Fioretti we find this expression 'courtesy is the sister of charity, it extinguishes hatred and kindles love'. Yes courtesy kindles love. And today, in our families, in our world, often violent and arrogant, there is a need for far more courtesy. And this begins in the home.
'Thank you'. This word sounds easy to pronounce, but we know that is not so ... yet it's important! We teach it to children, but then forget all about it! Gratitude is an important sentiment: an old woman in Buenos Aires once said to me gratitude is a flower that grows in noble land. So we must have noble souls to cultivate this flower". "In your relationship, and in your future as married couples, it is important to keep alive your awareness that the other person is a gift from God, and we should always give thanks for gifts from God. In this inner behavior, you must thank each other for everything. It is not merely a kind word to use with strangers, in order to be polite. It is necessary to know how to say thank you, to journey ahead together in married life".
"Sorry". "In life we make many mistakes, so many mistakes. We all make them. Perhaps, a day doesn't pass without us making some sort of mistake. Is there anyone here who has never made a mistake? Raise your hand...Nobody. And this is why we need to be able to use this simple word, 'sorry'. In general we are all ready to accuse other sand to justify ourselves. And this started with our father Adam, when God asks him, 'did you eat that fruit?' He answers: 'that one there, she gave it to me!' It is an old story . It is an instinct that lies at the origins of many disasters. Let us learn to recognise our mistakes and to apologise. 'Sorry if I raised my voice'; 'I'm sorry if I went without saying goodbye' , 'excuse me for being late', 'if I have been so quiet this week', 'if I talked too much without ever listening' , 'I'm sorry if I forgot' , 'sorry I was angry and I got angry with you'. Every day .. . this is also how a Christian family grows. You should know that there is no perfect family, or perfect husband or perfect wife. We won't mention the perfect mother-in-law! Just us sinners. Jesus, who knows us well, taught us a secret: never let the sun set without asking for forgiveness, without restoring peace to your home, your family. It's normal for spouses to quarrel, maybe you're angry, maybe dishes even flew, but remember this: never, ever end the day without making peace, never, never. If you end the day without making peace, the next day what you said will have grown cold, hard, it will be more difficult. When I meet couples at the general audience or in Santa Marta that are 50 years marries, I ask , 'who put up with who more? And they look at each other, and this is beautiful. If we learn to say sorry and forgive each other, the marriage will last, it will move onwards".
Finally, the wedding "is a real celebration, but a Christian celebration, not a worldly party". "What will make your wedding fully and profoundly true is the presence of the Lord who reveals Himself and gifts you His grace". "He is the secret of full joy, that joy that truly warms the heart. It is the presence of Jesus' at the celebration". "At the same time, however, it is important that your marriage is sober and emphasizes what really counts. Some people are more concerned about the outward signs, the banquet, photographs, the dress and flowers ... These things are important in a celebration, but only if they are able to indicate the real reason of your joy: God's blessing on your love. Be sure that, like wine at Cana, the outward signs of your celebration reveals the presence of the Lord and reminds you and all those present of the origin and the reason for your joy of that day". "Marriage is an everyday task, I could say a craft, because the husband has a duty to do make his wife more a woman and the wife to make her husband more of a man. Growing in humanity as a man and woman, this is what happens between you, this is what we call growing together, the Lord blesses, but this is up to you, always see to it that the other grows. "One day someone will say, look at that, and someone will say ... 'and what a wife he has ' ... and some one else will say look at that .. and 'what a husband she has'. This is to growing together.