Pope Francis received participants taking part in a Formation Course for the Protection of Marriage and the Pastoral Care of married couples in crisis, organised by the Rota Romana. He tells them that the Church always and only seeks the good of those facing marriage difficulties.
Greeting course participants on Saturday 30 November, Pope Francis got straight to the heart of the argument, saying the theme of this course has combined two crucial aspects: the protection of marriage and the pastoral care of couples in crisis.
The difficulties of marriage today, he said “come from many different causes: psychological, physical, environmental, cultural…; sometimes they are caused by the closure of the human heart to love, by the sin that touches us all.”
That is why, the Pope continued, the Church, when she encounters these realities of couples facing difficulties, first of all weeps and suffers with them.
The Pope noted that the Church is never “impersonal or cold in the face of these sad and troubled stories of life. For this reason, even in her canonical and jurisprudential procedures, the Church always and only seeks the good of those facing marriage difficulties.”
The Pontiff continued by saying, that is why every ecclesiastical body, that faces a marriage that is suffering, “must always first of all entrust themselves to the Holy Spirit, so that, guided by Him, they may listen with the right criteria, and be able to examine, discern and judge.”
The Sacrament of marriage “cannot be improvised,” the Pope pointed out.
He went on to says that Christian couples preparing for marriage must “nourish and progressively increase within themselves that specific call to model themselves as Christian spouses.”
But the Pope also emphasised, that the bishop, or parish priest, who prepare engaged couples for this sacrament, “must help them to be living and apostolic cells of parish communities.”
The Pope commented that “the married saints Aquila and Priscilla, friends and collaborators of Saint Paul, are a beautiful example of this vocation to the conjugal apostolate.
The Church, in its parish structure, he concluded, “is concretely a community of families, called to become, like Aquila and Priscilla, witnesses of the Gospel in that territory.”
Pope: We need a free and simple outward looking Church
Pope Francis on Saturday received those taking part in the International Meeting “Evangelii Gaudium: Reception and Perspectives. The ‘Church which goes forth’”. Over the last three days participants including Bishops, religious and lay people from all over the world have been gathered in the Vatican to discuss the Pope’s Apostolic Exhortation six years on from its publication.
“I would like to say very simply: the joy of the Gospel springs from the encounter with Jesus.” Those were the Pope’s words on Saturday 30 November in the newly restored Hall of Benedictions in the Vatican.
Speaking to participants taking part in this International Meeting organised by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelisation, he said, “We need a free and simple Church, which does not think of looking good, of convenience and of entrances, but outward looking.”
The need to proclaim the Gospel arises spontaneously
“It is when we encounter the Lord that we are flooded with that love of which he alone is capable.” At that point, Pope Francis went on to say, “the need to proclaim the Gospel arises spontaneously and becomes irrepressible.”
“This is how evangelisation began, on Easter morning,” the Pope explained, “with a woman, Mary Magdalene who, after meeting the risen Jesus, the Living One, evangelised the Apostles.”
“The experience of so many people today is not far from that of Mary of Magdala. Nostalgia for God, for an infinite and true love, is rooted in the heart of every man,” he said.
The Pope stressed that, “to live you need the God of love.” If that love was constantly in our hearts, he added, we would not breathe indifference or be wrapped up in a culture of consumerism.
Those who evangelise, stressed the Pontiff, “can never forget that they are always on the road, searching with others.”
Follow new paths
During his address, Pope Francis said we must not “hold back our fear of making mistakes and our fear of following new paths.”
“Our poverties are not obstacles,” he commented, “but precious instruments, because God’s grace loves to manifest itself in weakness.”
Concluding his speech, the Pope said that the first Christians, who everyone was against and who were persecuted for their faith should be our guide.
We should, “not be saddened by things that are not going well, by labours, by misunderstandings: they are small things in the face of “the sublimity of the knowledge of Christ Jesus our Lord,” Pope Francis advised.
“Let us not allow ourselves to be infected by the defeatism according to which everything goes wrong,” but instead, “let us invoke its author every day, the Holy Spirit, who makes life a love story with God.”
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