The Pope to the Roman Rota: Renew awareness of the gift received in marriage
On the occasion of the inauguration of the Judicial Year, Pope Francis received the members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota in audience, proposing a reflection on marriage. “Crises are not resolved by hiding them, but by mutual forgiveness.”
“In the Church and in the world there is a strong need to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between a man and a woman, on which the family is founded.” It was the confirmation with which Pope Francis introduced some thoughts on marriage, upon receiving the College of Auditor Prelates of the Roman Rota. Marriage according to Christian Revelation – affirmed the Holy Father – is not a ceremony or a social event, nor a formality; nor is it an abstract ideal: it is a reality with its precise consistency, not “a mere form of affective gratification that can be constituted in any way and be modified according to the sensitivity of each one”.
Every true marriage is a gift from God.
Hence the question of the Supreme Pontiff regarding the possibility of a union “so involving” between a man and a woman, given the limitations and fragility of the human being. A simple and profound answer, the Pope said, is given to us by Jesus: “Let not man separate what God has joined” (Mt 19,6). As the Second Vatican Council affirmed – the pontiff also recalled – “God himself is the author of marriage and this can be understood as referring to any conjugal union.
All this leads us to recognize that all true marriage, even non-sacramental, is a gift from God to the spouses.
The Pope then confirmed that indissolubility “is often conceived as an ideal”, and that the mentality that “marriage lasts as long as there is love” tends to prevail. “But what love is it about?” He questioned. And he affirmed that “also in this case there is usually ignorance of true conjugal love, reduced to the sentimental level or to mere selfish satisfaction.” Conjugal love, on the other hand, “is inseparable from marriage itself, in which human love, fragile and limited, meets divine love, always faithful and merciful.”
God sustains spouses with his grace
“Can there be “due” love?” was another question posed by the Pontiff. The answer, he explained, “is found in the commandment of love, as given by Christ: ‘As I have loved you, you also love one another.’
We can apply this commandment to conjugal love, also a gift from God.
It is a commandment that can be fulfilled “because it is He himself who sustains the spouses with his grace”. It is a gift entrusted to their freedom with its limitations and falls, so that the love between husband and wife needs purification and maturation continuous, mutual understanding and forgiveness. Crises – the Pope asserted – are not resolved by hiding them, but with mutual forgiveness. “We must not idealize marriage, as if it only exists where there are no problems,” he said.
A bond inhabited by divine love
Married spirituality is a spirituality of the bond inhabited by divine love, and it is necessary, the Holy Father assured, “to rediscover the permanent reality of marriage as a bond.” Sometimes this word is viewed with suspicion, as if it were an external imposition, a burden, a “binding” that opposes the authenticity and freedom of love. If, on the contrary, the bond is understood precisely as a bond of love, then it is revealed as the nucleus of marriage, as a divine gift that is the source of true freedom and that guards married life.
In this sense, “The pre-marriage ministry and the marriage ministry must be above all a ministry of the bond, where elements are provided that help both to mature love and to overcome hard moments.”
The contributions, Francis specified, “are not only doctrinal convictions” and cannot be reduced “to the precious spiritual resources that the Church always offers”, but must also be “practical paths, well-incarnated advice, tactics taken from experience, psychological guidance ”.
Renew awareness of the gift received
Before ending with an invocation to the Holy Spirit to pour out his gifts on those present committed to “service to the truth of marriage”, the Pope directed his thoughts to marriages in crisis, and affirmed that the Church “accompanies them with love and hope, trying to sustain them”, suggested a “fundamental” resource to face and overcome crises: “renew awareness of the gift received in the sacrament of marriage, an irrevocable gift, a source of grace that we can always count on”.
In the complexity of concrete situations, which sometimes require the collaboration of the human sciences, – he concluded – this light on one’s own marriage is an essential part of the path of reconciliation. “Thus, fragility, which always remains and also accompanies married life, will not lead to a break, thanks to the strength of the Holy Spirit.”