In his apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia, Pope Francis used St. Paul’s “hymn to love,” taken from his First Letter to the Corinthians, to offer several pieces of advice on how to keep one’s marriage strong throughout the years, based on true love.
“Love is patient, love is kind.
love is not jealous or boastful;
it is not arrogant or rude.
Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful;
it does not rejoice at wrong,
but rejoices in the right.
Love bears all things,
believes all things,
hopes all things,
endures all things” (1 Cor 13:4-7).
“It is helpful to think more deeply about the meaning of this Pauline text and its relevance for the concrete situation of every family,” he explained.
1. Love is patient. For Francis, “being patient does not mean letting ourselves be constantly mistreated, tolerating physical aggression or allowing other people to use us.” […] “Love always has an aspect of deep compassion that leads to accepting the other person as part of this world, even when he or she acts differently than I would like.”
“We encounter problems whenever we think that relationships or people ought to be perfect, or when we put ourselves at the center and expect things to turn out our way. Then everything makes us impatient, everything makes us react aggressively,” he warned.
2. Love is at the service of others. The pope underscored that, through his letter, St. Paul “wants to stress that love is more than a mere feeling. Rather, it should be understood along the lines of the Hebrew verb “to love”; it is “to do good.”
“As Saint Ignatius of Loyola said, ‘Love is shown more by deeds than by words.’ It thus shows its fruitfulness and allows us to experience the happiness of giving, the nobility and grandeur of spending ourselves unstintingly, without asking to be repaid, purely for the pleasure of giving and serving.”
3. Love is not jealous. “Love has no room for discomfiture at another person’s good fortune (cf. Acts 7:9; 17:5),” the pope emphasized, adding that “Envy is a form of sadness provoked by another’s prosperity; it shows that we are not concerned for the happiness of others but only with our own well-being.”
“True love values the other person’s achievements. It does not see him or her as a threat. It frees us from the sour taste of envy. It recognizes that everyone has different gifts and a unique path in life.”
4. Love is not boastful. Francis emphasizes that “Those who love not only refrain from speaking too much about themselves, but are focused on others; they do not need to be the center of attention.”
“Some think that they are important because they are more knowledgeable than others; they want to lord it over them. Yet what really makes us important is a love that understands, shows concern, and embraces the weak.”
5. Love is not rude. “To love is also to be gentle and thoughtful,” the Pope said, “and this indicates that “love is not rude or impolite; it is not harsh. Its actions, words and gestures are pleasing and not abrasive. Love abhors making others suffer.”
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6. Love is generous. Contrary to the popular saying, that “to love another we must first love ourselves,” the pope recalls that St. Paul’s hymn to love “states that love ‘does not seek its own interest,’ nor ‘seek what is its own.’”
“Generously serving others is far more noble than loving ourselves.”
7. Love is not irritable or resentful. In Amoris Laetitia, the pope warns us about “a hidden irritation that sets us on edge where others are concerned, as if they were troublesome or threatening and thus to be avoided.”