Ave Maria Meditations
The Pope stressed the importance of vocation: both that of marriage and of virginity. The question about the sacrament of marriage was asked him by a young couple, carrying their small baby.
“Two Christians who are married,” said Francis, “have recognized the Lord’s call in their love, the vocation to form from two, male and female , one flesh , one life. And the Sacrament of Marriage envelops this love with the grace of God, rooted in God himself. With this gift, with the certainty of this call, you can start off safe, afraid of nothing, in the knowledge that you can deal with it together.”
The pontiff recalled the parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, “were married in conditions much poorer than ours, some in time of war, or post-war, and some emigrated, like my parents . Where did they get their strength from? From the certainty that the Lord was with them , that their family is blessed by God in the sacrament of marriage, and blessed is the mission of giving birth to children and educating them. Based on these assurances they survived even the most severe trials. They were simple, but real certainties, which formed of the pillars that supported their love. Their lives were not easy. There were so many problems, but these certainties helped them to move forward and make a beautiful family.”
He continued, “Dear friends, it takes this basis to build such solid moral and spiritual well being. Today, this base is no longer guaranteed by families and social tradition. Indeed, the society in which you were born favors individual rights rather than the family, relationships that last until difficulties arise, and for this reason sometimes speaks of the couple relationship, family and marriage in a superficial and misleading ways. You only have to watch certain television programs.”
Then leaving aside his written text, the Pope focused on relationships that last “as long as we love each other ” with feeling. Ending a relationship because we no longer feels love , he said, is selfishness. He also warned against the “temporary” culture, that does not make definitive decisions.
“But the Holy Spirit always has new answers to new needs! And so paths for couples, marriage preparation courses, groups of young couples in parishes, family movements have multiplied in the Church… They are an immense wealth! These are points of reference for all: young people who are searching, couples in crisis, distressed parents with their children and vice versa; then there are the different forms of care: foster care, adoption, foster families of various types … the fantasy of the Spirit is infinite, but it is also very practical! Then I would tell you not to be afraid to make the final decisions in life, like that of marriage: deepen your love, respecting its timing and expressions, pray and prepare well, but then trust that the Lord will not abandon you! Let him come into your home as one of the family, he will always support you.”
The Pope then spoke of a mother who complained to him that her son , although he had a long time girlfriend, still would not get married. “Stop ironing his shirts, “was the advice of Francis.
Two other young people had asked him how to overcome fear before the call to consecrated life and how to recognize this call . “Virginity for the Kingdom of Heaven,” explained the pope, “is the vocation that Jesus himself lived. How do we recognize it? How can we follow it? This is third question. And I reply with two essential elements: to pray and walk in the Church. These two things go together, they are intertwined. The origin of every vocation to the consecrated life is always a strong experience of God, an experience you will never forget but remember for a lifetime! And this is something we cannot calculate or plan. God always surprises us! It is God who calls, but it is important to have a daily relationship with Him, listening in silence before the Tabernacle and within ourselves, talk to him, (receive) the Sacraments. ”
He added: “Virginity for the Kingdom of God is not a ‘no’, it is a ‘yes’! Of course, it implies the renunciation of a marital bond and family, but the basis is ‘yes ‘, as a response to the ‘yes ‘ of total love of Christ towards us, and this ‘yes ‘ makes it fruitful. But here in Assisi there is no need for words! There is Francis, there is Clare, speak to them! Their charism continues to speak to many young people in the whole world: boys and girls who leave everything to follow Jesus on the path of the Gospel. ”
He concluded: “Bring Christ into your homes, announce Him among your friends, welcome and serve the poor . Umbria: Give a message of life, peace and hope”.
October 4, 2013