Marriage takes place between real men and women and that it is not a mere formality according to Pope Francis.
The Holy Father made the remarks on Friday while addressing auditors of the Roman Rota at the beginning of the Church’s judicial year.
According to the Pontiff, there is a “strong need,” in the Church and in the world, “to rediscover the meaning and value of the conjugal union between man and woman on which the family is founded.”
The Pope explained that, according to Christian revelation, marriage is more than a ceremony or social event; it is not a mere formality or an abstract ideal, but instead “is a reality with its own precise consistency.”
Given that reality, and the fact that marriage takes place between real men and women, with all their limitations and failings, the Pope asked how marriages can be engaging, faithful, and permanent.
The answer, he said, lies in the fact that all true marriages, even non-sacramental marriages, are a gift from God to the spouses.
“Marriage is always a gift! Conjugal fidelity rests on divine fidelity; conjugal fruitfulness rests on divine fruitfulness,” Pope Francis said.
For this reason, marriage cannot “be reduced to a sentimental plane or to mere selfish satisfactions”; that is, one must reject the idea that a marriage lasts only so long as romantic love does.
Instead, Pope Francis said, “marital love is inseparable from marriage itself, in which fragile and limited human love meets divine love, which is always faithful and merciful.”
We can fulfill Jesus’ command that we “love one another” – which also pertains to marriage – because “it is He Himself who sustains spouses with His grace.”
Having elaborated on marriage as a gift from God, Pope Francis went on to emphasize that marriage is good – and, in fact, “a good of extraordinary value for everyone,” not just spouses and children, but other families, the Church, and the whole world.
He emphasized, too, that “in the Christian economy of salvation, marriage constitutes first and foremost the high road to holiness, a holiness lived out in ordinary life.”
This, the Pope said, “is an essential aspect of the Gospel of the family.”
Turning to the question of marriages in crisis, Pope Francis said the Church must accompany spouses facing difficulties with love and support.
The Church’s pastoral response, he said, must involve helping renew the awareness of marriage as an “irrevocable gift.”
Without ignoring the contributions of social sciences, this “light on one’s marriage is an essential part of the journey of reconciliation” within marriages.
The Pope recognized that marriage always involves “fragility” – but, he said, “with the help of the Holy Spirit,” difficulties in married life need not lead to a definitive rupture.