“Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Good Morning! Continuing these catecheses on the family, today I would like to speak about engagement. Engagement — 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 young people today 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 calls for a journey.
Engagement, in other words, is the time when the two are called to perform a real labor of love, an involved and shared work that delves deep. Here 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, for it is not simply a matter of carefree happiness or enchanted emotion. The biblical account speaks of all creation as a beautiful work of God’s love. The Book of Genesis says that: “God saw everything 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 lasting.
The covenant of love between man and woman — a covenant for life — cannot be improvised. It isn’t made up one day to the next. 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 almost a miracle of freedom and the heart entrusted to faith. Perhaps we should emphasize this point more, 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 prevailing tendency is to consume love like some kind of “supplement” for mental and physical well-being. This is not love! Engagement focuses on the will to care for something together that must never be bought or sold, betrayed or abandoned, however tempting the offer may be.
The time of betrothal can truly become a time of initiation, into what? Into surprise.
“Enjoy the journey of engagement!”.
POPE FRANCIS, GENERAL AUDIENCE, Wednesday, May 27, 2015.