VATICAN CITY (ZENIT) — Here is a translation of the Holy Father’s catechesis on the sacraments during his weekly general audience of April 2.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
Today we conclude the series of catecheses on the sacraments speaking of Marriage. This sacrament leads us to the heart of God’s plan, which is a covenant plan with His people, with all of us, a plan of communion. At the beginning of the Book of Genesis, the first Book of the Bible, as the crowning of the account of creation, it states: “God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. . . . Therefore a man leaves his father and his mother and cleaves to his wife, and they become one flesh” (Gen. 1:27; 2:24).
The married couple is the image of God: the man and the woman, not only the man, not only the woman, but both. This is the image of God: the love, the covenant of God with us is represented in that covenant between man and woman. And this is very beautiful! We are created to love, as reflection of God and of His love. And in the conjugal union the man and the woman realize this vocation in the sign of reciprocity and of communion of a full and definitive life.
When a man and a woman celebrate the Sacrament of Marriage, God, so to speak, is “mirrored” in them, He imprints in them His own features and the indelible character of His love. Marriage is the icon of God’s love for us. God, in fact, is also communion: the three Persons of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit have lived always and forever in perfect unity. And this is in fact the mystery of Marriage: God makes of the two spouses a single existence. The Bible uses a strong expression and states “one flesh,” so intimate is the union between man and woman in marriage. And this is precisely the mystery of marriage: the love of God that is mirrored in the couple that decides to live together. Therefore, man leaves his home, the home of his parents and goes to live with his wife and unites himself so strongly to her that the two become — the Bible states — one flesh.
In the Letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul highlights the fact that a very great mystery is reflected in Christian spouses: the relationship established by Christ with the Church, a nuptial relationship (cf. Eph. 5:21-33). The Church is the Bride of Christ. This is the relationship. This means that Marriage responds to a specific vocation and must be considered as a consecration (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 48; Familiaris Consortio, 56). It is a consecration: the man and the woman are consecrated in their love. By virtue of the sacrament, the spouses are invested in fact in a true and proper mission, so that they can render visible, from simple ordinary things, the love with which Christ loves His Church, continuing to give his life for her, in fidelity and in service.
It is truly a stupendous plan that is inherent in the Sacrament of Marriage! And it is acted out in the simplicity and also in the fragility of the human condition. We know well how many difficulties and trials the life of two spouses has. What is important is to keep alive the bond with God, who is the basis of the conjugal bond. And the true bond is always with the Lord. When the family prays, the bond is maintained. When the husband prays for the wife and the wife prays for the husband, the bond becomes strong; one prays for the other.
It is true that in matrimonial life there are many difficulties, many: work, lack of money, children having problems — so many difficulties. And so often the husband and wife become a bit nervous and quarrel between themselves. They quarrel — it is always so in marriage — sometimes even plates fly. However, we must not become sad because of this; the human condition is like this. And the secret is that love is stronger from the moment there is quarreling, so I always advise spouses: Never end the day when you quarreled without making peace. Always! And it is not necessary to call the United Nations to come to one’s home to make peace. A small gesture, a caress, a hello is sufficient! And until tomorrow — and tomorrow one begins again. And this is life; it must be carried forward thus, carried forward with the courage of wanting to live it together. And this is great, it is beautiful! Married life is a most beautiful thing and we must guard it always, protect the children.
At other times I have said in this square something that helps marital life a lot. They are three words that must always be said, three words that must be in the home: please, thank you, sorry [permesso, grazie, scusa] — three magical words.
Please, so as not to be invasive in the life of the spouse. Please, but what does this seem to you? Please, allow me.
Thank you: to thank one’s spouse: thank you for what you did for me, thank you for this. The beauty of rendering thanks!
And as we all make mistakes, the other word which is a bit difficult to say, but which must be said: sorry.
Please, thank you, sorry. With these three words, with the prayer of the husband for his wife and vice versa, with making peace always before the day ends, the marriage will go forward — the three magical words, prayer and always making peace.
May the Lord bless you and pray for me.
(Translation by ZENIT)