Pope Francis shared advice for engaged and married couples based on the example provided by the Holy Family at his Wednesday audience.
The pope highlighted how St. Joseph witnessed to what real, “mature love” looks like, particularly when life throws a couple unexpected challenges.
He asked the crowd gathered in Vatican City’s Paul VI Hall on Dec. 1 to imagine that when Mary and Joseph were engaged to one another, “they had probably cultivated dreams and expectations regarding their life and their future,” when “out of the blue, God seems to have inserted himself into their lives.”
When Joseph learns that Mary is pregnant, “an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins’” (Matthew 1:20-21).
Pope Francis underlined that “love is not the pretension that the other person, or life, should correspond to our imagination.”
“Rather, it means to choose in full freedom to take responsibility for one’s life as it comes,” he said. “This is why Joseph gives us an important lesson. He chooses Mary with ‘his eyes open.’ We can say ‘with all the risks.’”
“And Joseph’s risk gives us this lesson: to take life as it comes,” the pope said at the live-streamed audience.
In his address, Pope Francis urged Christian couples to remember that they are “called to witness to a love like this that has the courage to move from the logic of falling in love to that of mature love.”
He said that this requires making “a demanding choice” that “can fortify love so that it endures when faced with the trials of time.”
“Dear brothers and dear sisters, our lives are very often not what we imagine them to be. Especially in loving and affectionate relationships, it is difficult to move from the logic of falling in love to the logic of a mature love,” he said.
“We need to move from infatuation to mature love — you newlyweds, think about this. The first phase is always marked by a certain enchantment that makes us live immersed in the imaginary that is often not based on reality and facts, the falling in love phase.”
“But precisely when falling in love with its expectations seems to come to an end, that is where true love begins or true love enters in there.”
Pope Francis said that it is normal for married couples to quarrel sometimes, but advised couples to “make peace before going to bed.”
“That spouses fight is our daily bread, eh … ‘And there are even times plates fly.’ It happens. But what can be done so that this does not damage the life of the marriage? Listen to me well: never finish the day without making peace,” he said.
“Remember always: never finish the day without making peace. And this will help you in your married life,” he added.
This was Pope Francis’ third reflection in a catechetical series on St. Joseph during his Wednesday general audiences.
Before ending this week’s audience, the pope made an appeal marking World AIDS Day.
“Today is World AIDS Day. It is an important occasion to remember the many people who are affected by this virus. For many of them, in some areas of the world, access to the necessary treatment is not available. My hope is that there might be a renewed commitment in solidarity to guarantee fair and effective health care,” Francis said.
The pope also asked for prayers on the day before he departs for his trip to Cyprus and Greece on Dec. 2-6.
Among the crowd at the audience were newly married couples who came to the Vatican to receive the pope’s blessing for their marriages.
At the conclusion of his address, Pope Francis shared a prayer to St. Joseph for Christian couples:
you who loved Mary with freedom,
and chose to renounce your fantasies to give way to reality,
help each of us to allow ourselves to be surprised by God
and to accept life not as something unforeseen from which to defend ourselves,
but as a mystery that hides the secret of true joy.
Obtain joy and radicality for all engaged Christians,
while always being aware
that only mercy and forgiveness make love possible. Amen.”