Pope Francis shows the beauty of marriage: “Getting married and sharing one’s life is something beautiful.”
The Holy Father dedicates his prayer intention for the month of June to the beauty of marriage, a demanding life-long journey on which “the husband and wife aren’t alone; Jesus accompanies them.”
(Vatican City, June 1, 2021) – The Pope Video has just been published with the intention that Francis is entrusting to the entire Catholic Church through the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network. In the context of the “Special year of the family,” which began on March 19, 2021, the video focuses on the beauty of marriage and is published in collaboration with the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life. The Holy Father encourages young people to undertake this demanding journey, because “getting married and sharing one’s life is something beautiful.” This is why it is a vocation worth following, since “God has a dream for us—love—and He asks us to make it his own.” The prayer intention reaffirms the nature of this vocation, which “isn’t just a ‘social’ act,” but which is “born from the heart.”
Global marriage trends
Francis begins the The Pope Video by asking, “Is it true, what some people say—that young people don’t want to get married, especially during these difficult times?” The difficulties and complications that many families and marriages had to suffer due to the pandemic still echo in this question.
The marriage rate, according to some studies, has been dropping notably since 1972 to the point where, in countries such as the United States, it has reached the lowest numbers since such records started being kept. What’s more, in many countries the drop in the marriage rate has been accompanied by an increase in the age at which people marry (the current average in Sweden, for example, is close to 34). Regarding families, not only has the proportion of children born out of wedlock increased considerably in almost all the countries of the OECD, but also the number of divorces has multiplied; in some countries, more than half of marriages end in divorce.
The recent period of confinement, in many cases, resulted in tension and family conflict and made living together a more difficult task than usual. But the Pope’s message encourages us to continue with renewed enthusiasm: “It’s worth making the effort. And on this life-long journey, the husband and wife aren’t alone; Jesus accompanies them.”
A special year dedicated to the family
The Pope Video for June about marriage arrives at a very opportune moment. On the feast of the Holy Family in 2020, Pope Francis convoked a special year dedicated to the family, which just began this past March 19, 2021, with the following motto: “Family love: a vocation and a path to holiness.” This convocation coincides with the fifth anniversary of the encyclical Amoris Laetitia and with the third of the apostolic exhortation Gaudete et Exsultate. This places this month’s intention in the context of the vocation of love to which each person is called in their place in the home. In addition, it accompanies another important event: the year of St. Joseph, which will last until next December 8.
Specific preparation for marriage
An important aspect of The Pope Video is how it shows the beauty of marriage and the family as something more than a “social” act: “it’s a vocation that’s born from the heart; it’s a conscious decision for the rest of one’s life that requires specific preparation.”
“Preparing young people and engaged couples for a real vocation, not just for the celebration of a wedding, is a priority” said the Undersecretary of the Dicastery for the Laity, Family and Life, Dr. Gabriella Gambino. “To understand the presence of Christ in the daily lives of engaged couples, and then of spouses, by builiding on the meaning of Baptism is indispensable in giving young people the certainty that their family project is a response to a definitive call and that this project is possible. In a secularised society that no longer believes in marriage, it is fundamental to proclaim the strength and power of the sacrament as a vocation and to show that family relationships can have a salvific value for people and be a path to holiness. It is a matter of concretely bringing Christ into the lives of families.”
Fr. Fréderic Fornos, S.J., International Director of the Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network, observed that “the Pope highlights in this prayer intention the beauty of marriage and expresses his desire that young people preparing for marriage have ‘the support of a Christian community.’ Marriage is a vocation, an answer to a call from the Lord; that is, the decision to get married and create a family is the fruit of discernment. Allowing yourself to be carried along by God’s dream for us—love—requires the support and accompaniment of the community. As Francis says to young people preparing for marriage: ‘loving requires a great deal of patience,’ but on this life-long voyage, Jesus, the face of the Father’s love, accompanies them. Let us make our own this dream God has for us of growing in love and daring to embark upon this demanding voyage of marriage and the family during this special year of St. Joseph.”