ROME – Pope Francis for the month of June is asking faithful to join him in praying for young couples preparing for marriage – an intention that falls withing the broader year dedicated to Amoris Laetitia the pope’s major document on family life.
In his monthly prayer video, released June 1 and dedicated to “the beauty of marriage,” the pope begins by referencing a topic he has often spoken about, which is the fact that young people are increasingly hesitant to get married.
“Getting married and sharing one’s life is something beautiful,” he said. “It’s a demanding journey, at times difficult, and at times complicated, but it’s worth making the effort.”
Marriage, he said, “isn’t just a social act; it’s a vocation that is born from the heart: it is a conscious decision for the rest of one’s life that requires special preparation. Please, never forget this. God has a dream for us – love – and he asks us to make it his own.”
“Let us make our own the love which is God’s dream for us and let us pray for young people who are preparing for marriage,” he said, asking that they “grow in love, with generosity, faithfulness, and patience, because a great deal of patience is necessary in order to love. But it’s worth it, isn’t it?”
The pope’s prayer is one of his monthly intentions for the year 2021, which coincides with his special year of “Amoris Laetitia Family,” which opened March 19, on the feast of St. Joseph, and will close June 26, 2022.
It is based on Pope Francis’s 2016 exhortation on the family, a product of the 2014-2015 Synod of Bishops on the Family, which among other things, touched on sensitive issues such as the need to be more welcoming to individuals with same-sex attraction and the reception of the sacraments by Catholics who are divorced and remarried without an annulment.
Marriage preparation emerged as a key topic of discussion during the 2014-2015 synods on the family, with the pope arguing that it ought to be given more attention, as a priest typically undergoes several years of formation before being ordained, whereas couples are only required to attend a handful of courses.
In Amoris Laetitia itself, the pope argues that part of the challenge of good marriage preparation is “to help couples realize that marriage is not something that happens once for all.”
“Their union is real and irrevocable, confirmed and consecrated by the sacrament of matrimony. Yet in joining their lives, the spouses assume an active and creative role in a lifelong project,” he said.
Both short and long-term marriage prep “should ensure that the couple do not view the wedding ceremony as the end of the road, but instead embark upon marriage as a lifelong calling based on a firm and realistic decision to face all trials and difficult moments together,” he said.
Francis in the text insisted that resources of where to turn for help when problems arise ought to be given as part of the marriage prep process, and the sacrament of Confession should be emphasized.
For the year of Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis is recording a series of 10 videos inspired by the different chapters of the document, focusing on the family as a gift, despite the challenges and obstacles that arise.
Each video comes with a 4-part pastoral guidebook which can be used either by families, parish groups, or for personal reflection.
His latest video for the series, which is the third installment, was published May 31, the day before his June prayer intention for engaged couples was announced, on the website for the Vatican department for Laity, Family, and Life, which is organizing the year for Amoris Laetitia.
The video focused on a couple from Taiwan who have been married for 31 years and have three children, who spoke of their family life and some of the tough decisions they had to make along the way for their family.
A recorded message from the pope is interspersed with the couple’s story throughout the video.
In his remarks, Pope Francis said that “With the same look of tenderness and mercy that Jesus had, the Church wants to accompany families so that every family become a pillar of evangelization.”
“I would like to say one thing to you: with the sacrament of matrimony, every family receives the grace to become a light in the darkness of the world,” he said, noting that there are several married couples among the saints who couples can turn to for support and guidance.
These were “normal people, common people, who through their marriage witnessed to the love of Jesus,” he said, telling couples that, “Each of your marriages can be holy if you want.”
“You spouses are like consecrated people, and you are essential in building the Church,” he said, insisting that each family is both a blessing and a source of strength for the universal Church.
“The beauty of the gift that is generated within families, the joy for the life that is born and the taking care of the little ones, the sick and the elderly, make every family irreplaceable not only in the Church, but also in the whole of society,” he said.
Francis closed his message encouraging couples and families to read Amoris Laetitia, telling them that if they read it, “you will find answers to many questions about the meaning of your life together.”
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