In a letter to spouses published on December 26, 2021 for the "Amoris Laetitia" year dedicated to the family, Pope Francis offers advice so that living together is not a penance but a refuge.
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“Take each other’s hand, when they are a little angry,” exchange a “knowing smile.” In a letter to spouses published on December 26, 2021 for the year dedicated to the family, Pope Francis offers advice so that living together is not a “penance” but a “refuge.”
For the special year “Amoris Laetitia” inaugurated on March 19, 2021, and which will conclude on June 26, 2022, with the World Meeting of Families in Rome, the head of the Catholic Church calls on families to have “creative courage.” Don’t let a sad look darken your faces,” he exhorts. “Your spouse needs your smile. Your children need your encouraging looks.”
In this message written against the backdrop of the health crisis where families have experienced “uncertainty, loneliness, loss of loved ones,” the pontiff urges couples not to be discouraged. “May the strength of love make you capable of focusing more on the other – your spouse, your children – than on your own fatigue,” he writes.
In the different situations of life, the Bishop of Rome notes, the commitment of marriage implies “the duty to abandon one’s inertia, one’s certainties, one’s comfort zones. But “you are not alone”, he assures us, “God accompanies you.” And his presence, he adds, makes it possible to “live what seems impossible”, to “find solutions to many of your problems.”
Children are a gift
With their children “watching them attentively,” the Argentine pontiff invites parents to bear witness to “a strong and credible love” through “small gestures that speak louder than words.” “Children are a gift, always,” he said, wishing for them “a security” that helps them trust “in the certainty that they will never be alone, whatever happens.”
To make the family home “a place of welcome and understanding,” of “tenderness and kindness,” Pope Francis urges spouses not to be “ashamed” to kneel “before Jesus present in the Eucharist to find a moment of peace” or to say a short prayer together at night before going to sleep.
The pope also expresses his “affection” to those who have become separated in the health crisis. The confinements have made pre-existing marital problems “unbearable,” he notes. “Do not cease, however, to seek help so that conflicts can be overcome in some way and do not cause more suffering between you and your children,” he encourages, before affirming that “forgiveness heals all wounds.”
The pontiff also urged engaged couples “not to be discouraged” and to “always trust in Providence, even if you have few resources.” Finally, he salutes the grandparents isolated by the pandemic, assuring that the family cannot do without the generation that represents “the living memory of humanity.
Finally, the 266th pope gives spouses the mission “to transform society through (their) presence in the world of work and to ensure that the needs of families are taken into account.”
During the Angelus celebrated in St. Peter’s Square on the day of the letter’s publication, Pope Francis announced it as his “Christmas gift” to spouses. He invited them to prepare themselves spiritually for the next World Meeting of Families (June 22-26, 2022) and to live it in their dioceses.