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Pope Francis Offers Advice to Engaged Couples

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Lasting love requires a journey

VATICAN CITY — Love between a betrothed man and woman is not a kind of “supplement” for mental and physical well-being, but rather a journey on which each learns about the other little by little before they are married, Pope Francis has said.

Speaking to pilgrims during his weekly general audience in St. Peter’s Square on Wednesday morning, the Pope said engagement “is the time when the two are called to a real work of love, an involved and shared work, that goes in depth.
 
“They discover one another little by little,” he said. “Let us not underestimate the importance of this learning: it is a beautiful endeavor, and love itself requires it, since it is not simply a matter of carefree happiness or enchanted emotion.”
 
But the Pope warned that today’s culture and society have become “rather indifferent to the delicacy and seriousness” of preparing for marriage. He said today, our “emotional coordinates” have gone a bit askew and people “claim to want everything right away, then back out on everything — right away — at the first difficulty (or at the first opportunity).”
 
“There is no hope for the trust and fidelity entailed in the gift of self, if the habit prevails of consuming love as a kind of “supplement” for mental and physical well-being,” Pope Francis said. “This is not love! Engagement develops the desire to care for something together that is never to be bought or sold, betrayed or abandoned, however tempting the offer may be.”
 
To counter this, the Pope urged betrothed couples to view engagement as “a path of life that has to ripen like fruit; it is a way of maturing in love, until the moment it becomes marriage.”
 
Here below we publish a translation of the Pope’s address.
 
***
 
Dear brothers and sisters,
 
Good morning. Continuing these catecheses on the family, today I would like to speak about betrothal. Betrothal — one hears it in the word — has to do with trust, confidence, reliability. Confidence in the vocation that God gives, since marriage is first and foremost the discovery of a call from God. Certainly it is a beautiful thing that today young people can choose to marry on the basis of mutual love. But the very freedom of the bond requires a conscious harmony in the decision, not just a simple understanding of the attraction or feeling, for a moment, for a short time … it requires a journey.
 
Betrothal, in other words, is the time when the two are called to a real work of love, an involved and shared work that goes in depth. They discover one another little by little, i.e. the man “learns” about woman by learning about this woman, his fiancée; and the woman “learns” about man by learning about this man, her fiancé. Let us not underestimate the importance of this learning: it is a beautiful endeavor, and love itself requires it, since it is not simply a matter of carefree happiness or enchanted emotion.
 
The biblical account speaks of the whole creation as God’s beautiful work of love. The Book of Genesis says that: “God saw all that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Only when it is finished does God “rest.” We understand from this image that God’s love, which brought forth the world, was not an impromptu decision. No, it was a beautiful work. The love of God created the concrete conditions for an irrevocable covenant, one that is strong and destined to endure.
 
The covenant of love between man and woman — a covenant for life — cannot be improvised. It isn’t made up from one day to another. There is no marriage express: one needs to work on love, one needs to walk. The covenant of love between man and woman is something learned and refined. I venture to say it is a covenant carefully crafted. To make two lives one is also a miracle of freedom, and of the heart entrusted in faith. 
 
Perhaps we should emphasize more this point, because our “emotional coordinates” have gone a bit askew. Those who claim to want everything right away, then back out of everything — right away — at the first difficulty (or at the first opportunity). There is no hope for the trust and fidelity entailed in the gift of self, if the habit prevails of consuming love as a kind of “supplement” for mental and physical well-being. This is not love! Engagement develops the desire to care for something together that is never to be bought or sold, betrayed or abandoned, however tempting the offer may be. 

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