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Pope's Advice to Couples: Say Please, Thank You, and I'm Sorry

family generationsThe Pope addressed more than 150,000 people from 75 countries in Rome on Sunday to celebrate the Day of the Family and gave Christian families the three key words for family life: please, thank you and I'm sorry.

The Vatican Information Service is reporting that the Pope toured St. Peter's Square on Sunday in an open car where he embraced children and shook hands with thousands of pilgrims who gathered for the Day of the Family. Before addressing the crowd, he listened to several people recount their stories of how their family endured difficult times and how young people are wanting to marry but can't find jobs.

After their presentations, Francis asked, “How is it possible to live the joy which comes from faith, in the family, today? … Life is often wearisome, and many times tragically so. We have heard this recently… But what is most burdensome in life is not this: what weighs more than all of these things is a lack of love. … Without love, the burden becomes even heavier, intolerable”.

He continued: “Dear families, the Lord knows our struggles: he knows them. He knows the burdens we have in our lives. But the Lord also knows our great desire to find joy and rest! … Jesus wants our joy to be complete! He said this to the apostles and today he says it to us. … Take home this Word of Jesus, carry it in your hearts, share it with the family”.

Francis then reflected on a promise from the Rite of Marriage. “'I promise to be true to you, in joy and in sadness' … At that moment, the couple does not know what will happen, nor what joys and pains await them. They are setting out, like Abraham, on a journey together. And that is what marriage is! Setting out and walking together, hand in hand, putting yourselves in the Lord’s powerful hands. Hand in hand, always and for the rest of your lives."

He warned: " . . . (D)o not pay attention to this makeshift culture, which can shatter our lives. With trust in God’s faithfulness, everything can be faced responsibly and without fear. Christian spouses are not naive; they know life’s problems and temptations. But they are not afraid to be responsible before God and before society. They do not run away, they do not hide, they do not shirk the mission of forming a family and bringing children into the world.”

He then gave three key words for family life: please, thank you and sorry. “We say please so as not to be forceful in family life. ... We say thank you, thank you for love! … And the last word: sorry. We all make mistakes and … harsh words are spoken but please listen to my advice: don’t ever let the sun set without reconciling. Peace is made each day in the family. … If love is missing, joy is missing, nothing is fun. Jesus gives always gives us that love: he is its endless source.”

While commenting on the scene of Jesus' Presentation in the Temple, which was chosen by the Pontifical Council for the Family as the image to represent the Day of Families, he reflected on the three generations of people who came together for that historic event. Mary and Joseph, the child Jesus, and the elderly Simeon and Anna.

"These two elderly persons represent faith as memory. But let me ask you: Do you listen to your grandparents? … Grandparents are like the wisdom of the family, they are the wisdom of a people. … And a people that does not listen to grandparents is one that dies! … Mary and Joseph are the family, sanctified by the presence of Jesus who is the fulfillment of all God’s promises.

"Like the Holy Family of Nazareth, every family is part of the history of a people; it cannot exist without the generations who have gone before it. Therefore, today we have grandparents and children. The children learn from their grandparents, from the previous generation.”

“Dear families”, he concluded, “you, too, are a part of God’s people. Walk joyfully in the midst of this people. Remain ever close to Jesus and bring him to everyone by your witness”.

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