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The Faithfulness of Love

Catechesis by Pope Francis on the Family
General Audience, Wednesday 21 October 2015 - in Arabic, Croatian, English, French, German, Italian, Polish, Portuguese & Spanish

"Dear Brothers and Sisters, Good morning!
In the last meditation we reflected on the important promises that parents make to children, from when they are first thought of in love and conceived in the womb.

We could add that, upon closer examination, the entire family reality is founded on that promise. Consider this carefully: the family identity is founded on the promise. One could say that the family lives on the promise of love and fidelity that a man and a woman make to one another. This includes the commitment to welcome and raise their children; but it is also carried out in caring for elderly parents, in protecting and tending to the weakest members of the family, in helping each other develop their own qualities and accept their own limitations. The conjugal promise expands so as to share in the joys and sorrows of all fathers, mothers, children, with generous openness with regard to human coexistence and to the common good. A family that is closed in on itself is like a contradiction, a mortification of the promise that gave birth to it and enables it to live. Never forget: the identity of a family is always a promise that expands, and it expands to the whole family and also to all of humanity.

In our time, honouring fidelity to the promise of family life appears to be very much weakened. On the one hand, because a misunderstood right to seek one’s own satisfaction, at all costs and in any relationship, is exalted as a nonnegotiable principle of freedom. On the other hand, because the constraints of relational life and commitment for the common good are entrusted exclusively to the requirements of law. But in reality, no one wants to be loved only for their assets or by constraint. Love, as well as friendship, owe their strength and their beauty to this very fact: that they engender a bond without taking away freedom. Love is free, the promise of the family is free, and this is its beauty. Without freedom there is no friendship, without liberty there is no love, without free consent there is no marriage. Thus, liberty and fidelity do not oppose one another, but rather, they support each other, both in interpersonal and social relationships. Indeed, let us consider the damage they cause, in the culture of global communication, the escalation of unkept promises, in various fields, and the condonation of infidelity to the word given and to commitments undertaken!

Yes, dear brothers and sisters, fidelity is a promise of commitment that is self-fufilling, growing in free obedience to the word given. Fidelity is a form of trust that “wants” to be truly shared, and a hope that “wants” to be cultivated together. Speaking of fidelity it comes to mind what our elderly folk, our grandparents, tell us: ‘In those times, when one made an accord, a handshake was enough, because there was fidelity to promises made. And this too, which is a social fact, has its origin in the family, in a man or woman’s handshake, in order to go forward together, for their whole life.

Faithfulness to promises is a true masterpiece of humanity! If we look at its bold beauty, we are frightened, but if we disregard its courageous tenacity, we are lost. No relationship of love — no friendship, no form of loving, no happiness in the common good — reaches the height of our desire and of our hope, if this miracle does not come to dwell in the soul. I say “miracle” because the power and persuasion of fidelity, in spite of everything, do not end up enchanting us or astonishing us. Honouring the word given, fidelity to the promise, cannot be bought and sold. They cannot be compelled by force or shielded without sacrifice.

No other school can teach the truth of love, if the family does not do it. No law can impose the beauty and legacy of this treasure of human dignity, if the personal bond between love and procreation is not inscribed in our flesh.

Brothers and sisters, it is necessary to restore social honour to the fidelity of love: restore social honour to the fidelity of love! It is necessary to remove from concealment the daily miracle of millions of men and women who repristinate its foundation in the family, of which every society lives, without being able to guarantee it in any other way. It is no accident that this principle of fidelity to the promise of love and of life is written in God’s creation as a perennial blessing, to which the world is entrusted.

If St Paul could affirm that in the familial bond there is also mysteriously revealed a decisive truth for the bond of the Lord and the Church, meaning that the Church herself finds here a blessing to safeguard and from which to always learn, even before teaching it and regulating it. Our fidelity to the promise is always entrusted to the grace and mercy of God. Love for the human family, for better or for worse, is a point of honour for the Church! May God allow us to be worthy of this promise. Let us also pray for the Synod Fathers: may the Lord bless their work, performed with creative fidelity, with the confidence that He, first, the Lord — He first! — is faithful to his promises. Thank you."


"Je salue cordialement les pèlerins de langue française, en particulier les personnes venues de Normandie et du diocèse de Créteil, la Communauté apostolique Saint-François Xavier et les jeunes venant de Suisse.
Demandons à Dieu d’accorder à chacun de rester fidèle à ses promesses, que nous confions aux secours de sa grâce et de sa miséricorde.
Que Dieu vous bénisse, qu’il bénisse vos familles.

[Saluto cordialmente i pellegrini di lingua francese, in particolare i fedeli della Normandia, della Diocesi di Creteil, la Comunità apostolica San Francesco Saverio e i giovani venuti dalla Svizzera. Chiediamo a Dio che conceda a ciascuno di restare fedele alle sue promesse, che noi affidiamo al soccorso della sua grazia e della sua misericordia.
Che Dio benedica voi e le vostre famiglie.]

I greet the English-speaking pilgrims and visitors taking part in today’s Audience, including those from England, Scotland, Ireland, Denmark, Norway, China, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Canada and the United States of America.  In a particular way I greet the participants in the meeting of the International Diaconate Center. God bless you all!

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua inglese presenti all’odierna Udienza, specialmente quelli provenienti da Inghilterra, Scozia, Irlanda, Danimarca, Norvegia, Cina, Indonesia, Giappone, Malaysia, Canada e Stati Uniti d’America.  Rivolgo un saluto particolare ai partecipanti all’incontro promosso dal Centro Internazionale del Diaconato. Dio vi benedica tutti!]

Einen herzlichen Gruß richte ich an alle Teilnehmer deutscher Sprache. Besonders grüße ich die Pilger aus dem Erzbistum Berlin mit ihrem Erzbischof Heiner Koch. Der Oktober ist der Rosenkranzmonat. Ich bitte euch, in euren Familien den Rosenkranz insbesondere für die Familiensynode zu beten, damit die selige Jungfrau Maria uns helfe, den Willen Gottes zu erfüllen. Der Herr segne euch alle.

[Rivolgo un cordiale saluto a tutti i partecipanti di lingua tedesca. Saluto specialmente i pellegrini dall’Arcidiocesi di Berlino con il loro Presule, Mons. Heiner Koch. Ottobre è il mese del Santo Rosario. Vi chiedo di pregare nelle vostre famiglie il Rosario, in particolare per il Sinodo sulla Famiglia, affinché la Beata Vergine Maria ci aiuti a compiere la volontà di Dio. Il Signore vi benedica tutti.]

Saludo a los peregrinos de lengua española, en particular a los grupos provenientes de España y Latinoamérica. Los invito a rezar por los Padres del Sínodo, que el Señor bendiga su trabajo, desarrollado con fidelidad creativa y con la firme esperanza de que el Señor es el primero en ser fiel a sus promesas. Que Dios los bendiga.

[Saluto i pellegrini di lingua spagnola, in particolare i gruppi provenienti dalla Spagna e dall’America latina. Vi invito a pregare per i padri sinodali, il Signore benedica il loro lavoro, sviluppato con fedeltà creativa e con la ferma speranza che il Signore è il primo a essere fedele alle sue promesse. Dio vi benedica.]

Queridos peregrinos de Portugal, Brasil e outros países de língua portuguesa, bem-vindos! Saúdo-vos cordialmente a todos, confiando ao bom Deus a vossa vida e a dos vossos familiares. Com alegria, acolho a delegação da Comunidade Hebraica de São Paulo, acompanhada pelo Cardeal Odilo Scherer. Esta visita a Roma vos ajude a estar prontos, como Abraão, a sair cada dia para a terra de Deus e do homem, revelando-vos um sinal do amor de Deus por todos os seus filhos. Obrigado!

[Carissimi pellegrini del Portogallo, del Brasile e di altri Paesi di lingua portoghese, benvenuti! Di cuore vi saluto tutti e affido al buon Dio la vostra vita e quella dei vostri familiari. Sono lieto d’accogliere la delegazione della Comunità Ebraica di San Paolo, accompagnata dal Cardinal Odilo Scherer. Questa visita a Roma vi aiuti a essere pronti, come Abramo, ad uscire ogni giorno verso la terra di Dio e dell’uomo, rivelandovi un segno dell’amore di Dio per tutti i suoi figli. Grazie!]

أُرحّبُ بالحجّاجِ الناطقينَ باللغةِ العربيّة، وخاصةً بالقادمينَ من الشرق الأوسط ولاسيما من مصر. أيّها الإخوةُ والأخواتُ الأعزّاء، واصلوا مرافقتكم لأعمال السينودس من خلال صلاتكم وكونوا شهودًا لحضور الله الدائم في العالم من خلال حياتكم العائليّة. ليبارككُم الربّ!

[Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai pellegrini di lingua araba, in particolare a quelli provenienti dal Medio Oriente e soprattutto dall’Egitto. Cari fratelli e sorelle, continuate ad accompagnare il Sinodo con la vostra preghiera, e siate testimoni della presenza costante di Dio nel mondo attraverso la vostra vita famigliare. Il Signore vi benedica!]

Witam polskich pielgrzymów. Moi drodzy, jutro obchodzimy wspomnienie św. Jana Pawła II, Papieża rodziny. Bądźcie jego dobrymi naśladowcami w trosce o wasze rodziny i o wszystkie rodziny, zwłaszcza te, które przeżywają trudności duchowe albo materialne. Wierność wyznawanej miłości, złożonym obietnicom i obowiązkom płynącym z odpowiedzialności niech będą waszą siłą. Przez wstawiennictwo św. Jana Pawła II módlmy się, aby kończący się Synod Biskupów odnowił w całym Kościele poczucie niezaprzeczalnej wartości nierozerwalnego małżeństwa i zdrowej rodziny opartej na wzajemnej miłości mężczyzny i kobiety, i na łasce Bożej. Z serca błogosławię wam, tu obecnym i waszym najbliższym. Niech Będzie pochwalony Jezus Chrystus!

[Do il benvenuto ai pellegrini polacchi. Carissimi, domani celebriamo la memoria di San Giovanni Paolo II, il Papa della famiglia. Siate suoi buoni seguaci nella premura per le vostre famiglie e per tutte le famiglie, specialmente quelle che vivono nel disagio spirituale o materiale. La fedeltà all’amore professato, alle promesse fatte e agli impegni che derivano dalla responsabilità siano la vostra forza. Per l’intercessione di San Giovanni Paolo II preghiamo che il Sinodo dei Vescovi, che sta per concludersi, rinnovi in tutta la Chiesa il senso dell’innegabile valore del matrimonio indissolubile e della famiglia sana, basata sull’amore reciproco dell’uomo e della donna, e sulla grazia divina. Benedico di cuore voi, qui presenti, e tutti i vostri cari. Sia lodato Gesù Cristo!]

* * *

Rivolgo un cordiale benvenuto ai fedeli di lingua italiana. Sono lieto di accogliere i cresimati della Diocesi di Faenza-Modigliana, accompagnati dal Vescovo Mons. Mario Toso e l’Associazione per l’assistenza spirituale alle forze armate, con l’Ordinario Militare Mons. Santo Marcianò.

Saluto l’Università Campus-Biomedico di Roma; l’Associazione europea Amici di San Rocco; e i gruppi parrocchiali, in particolare i fedeli di Erba, che ricordano il centenario della nascita del vescovo missionario Aristide Pirovano, sempre in  prima linea nell’aiuto ai poveri. Tutti esorto in questo mese dedicato alle missioni ad accompagnare con la preghiera e con l’aiuto concreto l’apostolato  missionario della Chiesa nei paesi più bisognosi.

Un pensiero speciale rivolgo ai giovani, agli ammalati e agli sposi novelli. Domani ricorre la memoria liturgica di San Giovanni Paolo II. Cari giovani, la sua testimonianza di vita sia di esempio per il vostro cammino; cari ammalati, portate con gioia la croce della sofferenza come egli ci ha insegnato con l'esempio; e voi, cari sposi novelli, chiedete la sua intercessione perché nella vostra nuova famiglia non manchi mai l’amore."

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