(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience continued his catechesis on the family, focusing on family life.
Listen to Christopher Wells' report:
“Today’s catechesis is like the gateway to a series of reflections on the life of the family, its real life, with its different times and events.” On this gateway, he said, “are written three words, which I’ve already used many times: ‘May I?’, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Pardon me.’” These three words, Pope Francis said, “open the path” to a happy family life. “They are simple words,” he said, “but not so simple to put into practice.” These three words, when they are based not simply on good manners, but on deep love and respect for others, have great power to strengthen family life.
The first word is “May I?” “When we concern ourselves with gently requesting even those things we might think we have a right too, we place a real defence for the spirit of harmony in the marriage and the family.” Even Jesus asks permission to enter our lives, the Pope said, recalling the verse from Revelation: “I stand at the door and knock.”
The second word, “Thank you,” is an integral part of the life of a Christian. Too often in modern society, Pope Francis said, evil words and behaviours are touted as expressions of freedom, while kindness and courtesy are seen as signs of weakness, or even viewed with suspicion. These attitudes must be rejected in family life. “Gratitude, for a believer, is at the heart of the faith: a Christian who does not know how to give thanks is one who has forgotten the language of God.” A spirit of gratitude within the family is at the foundation of respect for the dignity of the human person and of social justice.
Finally, “Pardon me,” “forgive me,” is a difficult word to say, but absolutely necessary. Pope Francis links the ability to ask for forgiveness with the ability to forgive others. “If we are not able to apologize, it means we are unable to forgive.” Pope Francis offered a word of advice to families: “Never finish the day without making peace.”
Pope Francis recognized that his “three words” might seem simplistic. “The three key-words for the family are simple words, and perhaps at first they may cause us to smile,” the Holy Father said. “But when we forget them, there’s nothing to laugh about, is there?” Too often, perhaps, they may be obscured. “May the Lord help us to put them back in their proper place, in our hearts, in our homes, and even in our civil society.”
Our Lady of Fatima
At the conclusion of the Audience, Pope Francis had special greetings especially for young people, the sick, and new spouses. He recalled that May 13 is the feast of Our Lady of Fatima. “Dear young people, learn and cultivate devotion to the Mother of God, with the daily recitation of the Rosary; dear [brothers and sisters] who are ill, feel the presence of Mary in the hour of the Cross; and you dear newly-married husbands and wives, pray to her that love and mutual respect will never be lacking in your homes.”
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