Pope Francis has done it again! Not only has he never failed to uphold the dignity of marriage, but he has given us another invaluable piece of advice on how to have a faithful and thriving one. This comes from his address to engaged couples on Valentine’s day of this year (somehow I missed this when I previously wrote about this address). He says:
Marriage is an everyday task, I could say a craftsman’s task, a goldsmith’s work, because the husband has the duty of making the wife more of a woman and the wife has the duty of making the husband more of a man. Growing also in humanity, as man and woman. And this you do together. This is called growing together. This does not come out of thin air! The Lord blesses it but it comes from your hands, from your attitudes, from your way of loving each other. Always act so that the other may grow. I am thinking of you that one day you will walk along the streets of your town and the people will say: “Look at that beautiful woman, so strong!…”. “With the husband that she has, it’s understandable!”. And to you too: “Look at him and how he is!…”. “With the wife he has, I can understand why!”. It’s this, reaching this point: making one another grow together. And the children will have the inheritance of having a father and a mother who grew together, making each other — one another — more of a man and more of a woman!
Pope Francis not only reminds us of our highest calling in marriage, to get one another to heaven, but he helps us understand how to practically do that. He tells us that marriage is the constant work of encouraging, challenging, and working with our beloved. We are called to challenge each other’s femininity and masculinity, helping it to develop more deeply, so that we can become the men and women God has called us to be.This is how a couple grows together. As a part of young couple, I often have people ask me “But don’t you think you will get sick of him?”, “What if he ends up not being the same guy as when you started dating?” “Don’t you think you guys will grow apart? You’re so young!”. The Pope’s words here give me even more courage and confidence to say no! We don’t have to worry about growing apart, as long as we are growing together. There needs not be fear of changing who we are or what we want in life, as long as we are consistently encouraging and challenging each other to grow in our own personhood with the Lord.
As Timothy and I continue in this journey, I have the task of helping him grow in his manhood, and he has the task of helping me grow in my womanhood. Often times, however, I seem to think that praying about this is enough. Don’t get me wrong, praying for our beloved is necessary and a great blessing in any relationship. But it can’t begin and end there…Pope Francis says:”The Lord Blesses it but it comes from your hands, from your attitudes, from your way of loving each other.” While having the Lord’s blessing is highly highly important and beautiful, it is only the first step. Helping one another grow must be real work. It has to come from the way we treat each other, the attitudes we have, the encouragement we give, the standards we hold each other to, and how authentically we love. It must come from everything we do in our daily lives that involved our beloved.
I pray that one day, someone will see Tim, and in some way admire his faith, his masculinity, his strength, and the way he carries himself and think “with the woman he has, I can understand why!”