While most imagine white wedding dresses, beautiful flowers, a blushing bride and an ecstatic groom, Pope Francis gets to the nitty gritty.
During his annual speech at the Holy See on Saturday, Pope Francis expressed his views on marriage.
he stressed the importance of effective education and marriage preparations before two people decide to officially tie the knot.
By educating themselves and making faith-based preparations, couples can enjoy unique blessings and prepare the for challenges of married life.
“The goal of this preparation consists, namely, in helping engaged couples to know and to live the reality of marriage as it is intended to be celebrated, so that it is possible to do so not only validly and lawfully, but also fruitfully, so that they are able to make this celebration a stage of their journey of faith,” Pope Francis explained.
“In this spirit, I would reiterate the need for a ‘new catechumenate’ in preparation for marriage. Welcoming the guidance of the Fathers of the last Ordinary Synod, it is urgent to implement effectively what has already been proposed in Familiaris Consortio (no. 66).
That is, as for the baptism of adults the catechumenate is part of the sacramental process, so the preparation for marriage must become an integral part of all sacramental marriage procedure, as an antidote that prevents the increase of invalid or tenuous marriage celebrations.”
Pope Francis spoke before members of the Rota and mentioned the broken faith, religious values and belief in eternal truths, particularly when it comes to the family. Even Christians are impacted and require awareness and consent to enter into the sacrament.
The pontiff also acknowledged those of different backgrounds and experiences of faith who seek Christian marriages. He claimed these people can no longer go ignored.
“Some participate actively in parish life; others will come for the first time; some also have a life of intense prayer; others are, however, driven by a more generic religious sentiment,” the Pope described. “Faced with this situation, we need to find valid remedies.”
The first remedy he proposed is to train young people to prepare for married life.
To do this, it is the Church’s responsibility to offer “an adequate process of preparation aimed to rediscover marriage and the family according to God’s plan.”
More than just a meeting with a priest, an engaged couple should use their pre-marriage time to share an increased openness, renews of their faith and offers an opportunity for the couple to delve deeper into their relationship with Christ and the message of the Gospel in accordance to the Church’s doctrine.
“The Christian community to which the engaged turn is called to cordially announce the Gospel to these people, because their experience of love can become a sacrament, an effective sign of salvation,” the Pope explained. In this circumstance, the redemptive mission of Jesus reaches the men and women in the concreteness of their love life.”
Pope Francis quoted from Benedict XVI’s last speech to the Rota in 2013 to explain teaching young people the truth about Biblical marriage and love is invaluable.
It is “only in being open to the truth of God … is it possible to understand, and to achieve in the concreteness of life, even marriage and family, the truth of man…The rejection of the divine proposal, in fact leads to a profound imbalance in all human relationships … including the matrimonial one.”
The pontiff quoted Lumen fidei, his first encyclical, to say: “Love needs truth. Just as it is based on trugh, love can last in time, overcome the ephemeral moment and stand firm to support a common path.
“If love has no relationship to the truth, it is subject to the changing feelings and does not pass the test of time. True love instead unifies all the elements of our person and becomes a new light towards a great and full life.”
The Pope explained by looking at marriage through this lens, remembering to build up the truth of marriage through the support and strengthening of couples even after the wedding is imperative.
“You need to identify with courage and creativity, a training project for young married couples, with initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of the sacrament received.”
Pope Francis said many young couples are left to themselves. Sometimes it is because they don’t go to church anymore or if they have a child their time is consumed, “but it is in these first moments of family life they must be guaranteed greater proximity and a strong spiritual support.”
The pontiff explained, “The Christian community is called to welcome, accompany and help young couples.” This is done by offering them opportunities and tools to build a strong relationship rooted in Christ.
Remember the Pope’s words, which all Catholic married couples can attest to. While getting to know our spouses and learning to live together under the same roof, we can use the support of the Church and of older, more experienced married couples in the Church’s community.