The Heart of Christian Marriage
Fifteen married couples joined Pope Francis for a Mass in Casa Santa Marta in celebration of marriages lasting 25, 50, and 60 years. During his homily, Pope Francis reflected on the three pillars of the spousal relationship: faithfulness, perseverance, and fruitfulness. Pope Francis described these pillars as the “three loves of Jesus”: for the Father, for His mother, and for the Church. These three pillars are exemplified in the love of Christ for the Church, His Bride, but are also at the heart of Christian marriage.
About the pillar of faithfulness he stated, Christ’s faithful love for the Church “is a faithful love,” said the Holy Father. “It is a persevering love. He never tires of loving his Church. It is a fruitful love. It is a faithful love. Jesus is the faithful one. St. Paul, in one of his Letters, says that, if you confess Christ, He will confess you, before the Father; if you deny Christ, He will deny you; even if you are not faithful to Christ, He remains faithful, for he cannot deny Himself! Fidelity is the essence of Jesus’ love. Jesus’ love in His Church is faithful. This faithfulness is like a light on marriage. The fidelity of love. Always.”
Pope Francis also spoke of the need for persevering love, like the persevering love that Christ has for the Church. “Married life must be persevering, because otherwise love cannot go forward. Perseverance in love, in good times and in difficult times, when there are problems: problems with the children, economic problems, problems here, problems there – but love perseveres, presses on, always trying to work things out, to save the family. Persevering: they get up every morning, the man and the woman, and carry the family forward.”
The final pillar of marriage is fruitfulness. The Holy Father spoke of the husband and wife’s duty to bring children into the world and the Church. He acknowledged the trials that come from infertility in marriage and the need to turn to Jesus. “In a marriage, fertility can sometimes be put to the test when the children do not arrive, or are sick.” Pope Francis advised these couples who are struggling with infertility to turn to Christ and to the fruitfulness of His love for the Church.
In contrast, there are many couples today who do not intend on having children in order to be more comfortable or independent. While to many these childless marriages may seem to have some advantages, Pope Francis stated, “These marriages, in which the spouses do not want children, in which the spouses want to remain without fertility. This culture of well-being from ten years ago convinced us: ‘It’s better not to have children! It’s better! You can go explore the world, go on holiday, you can have a villa in the countryside, you can be care-free…it might be better – more comfortable – to have a dog, two cats, and the love goes to the two cats and the dog. Is this true or is this not? Have you seen it? Then, in the end this marriage comes to old age in solitude, with the bitterness of loneliness. It is not fruitful, it does not do what Jesus does with his Church: He makes His Church fruitful.”