Pope Francis’ visit for the World Meeting of Families has sort of had me sitting at home thinking how I can better serve my husband, my family, and the friends and families nearest to us.
Thankfully, Pope Francis has pretty much already spelled it out for us…
Six months ago, he gave a general audience reflecting on what makes for a happy family life, and his words were so simple, and yet also very profound. I keep coming back to them again and again, and now seems like the perfect time to think about them once more.
Pope Francis said there are three phrases that are key to building a happy family life.
1) May I?
2) Thank you, and
3) Pardon me (aka Will you forgive me?)
He said said, “These simple phrases are not so easy to say or to put into practice. But when they are ignored, their absence can cause cracks in the foundation of the family, which can lead to its collapse. If these words are part of our daily lives, not just as a formal expression of good manners, but as a sign of deep love for one another, they strengthen a happy family life.”
I think all three phrases are extremely important in marriage, and while asking for forgiveness has never been a strong suit of mine, I’m learning that you have to become humble and meek, vulnerable, and forgiving for your marriage to work; willing to forgive and willing to ask for forgiveness when you’re wrong.
There’s no way around it. Marriage and family life demand this, and it also gives me a greater understanding of how God is calling us to holiness through this vocation. He is shaping us, and sort of shaving off our selfishness through this vocation and through our relationships.
Our society is constantly pushing the ideology of individualism, but our basic moral formation starts at home with our families.
And when you practice these virtues of humility (May I?), gratitude (Thank you), and forgiveness (Pardon me), and you build on those — because so many more virtues can flow from these, then you not only grow closer to your spouse and your family, but certainly, you also grow closer to reaching Heaven.
Because just as we ask for forgiveness from our husbands, we must also learn to constantly ask for forgiveness from God.
Just as we ask our spouses if we can go ahead and do something, we must also ask the same of God as we seek to do His will.
And lastly — we can’t forget, to come back to the Lord, our God, our Father, and say, “thank you” as we reflect on the many blessings He continues to pour into our lives.
Pope Francis tells us that these three phrases make for a happier family life, but I think they equally make for a better relationship with our Lord — and when that relationship is put first, when we learn how to better love Him, we will learn how to better love our families.