By Mario and Paola Martinez
Most of us are familiar with the saying, “…and they lived happily ever after.”
We most likely heard the expression for the first time at the conclusion of a fairy tale movie, while watching the camera close in on a blissful and smiling couple. It is possible we felt all warm and fuzzy inside and maybe even let out a quiet sigh. We have not, however, journeyed with the prince and princess in their day-to-day married life, to see what “happily ever after” is really made of.
Chapter 4 of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation “Amoris Laetitia” (The Joy of Love), titled “Love in Marriage,” offers valuable insights into what it takes to achieve our very own “happily ever after” in marriage. The Holy Father draws from St. Paul’s First Letter to the Corinthians to remind us what genuine love is all about. “Love is patient, love is kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.” (1 Cor 13:4-7)
Pope Francis dives into each part of this powerful and beloved verse, offering the Church words of life-giving truth and wisdom regarding marital love. We will focus on his insights on these four, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Love bears all things
Pope Francis invites us to see that “love does not have to be perfect for us to value it,” and that “love coexists with imperfection.” He invites us to be patient and to see our spouse as an unfinished masterpiece, in need of growth and progress.
Love believes all things
Love and trust go hand in hand, says Pope Francis, “Love trusts, it sets free, it does not try to control, possess and dominate everything.” Many couples waste so much time and energy being detectives in their marriage, which only leads to more secrecy and less transparency. True love simply trusts and let’s go.
Love hopes all things
Pope Francis reminds us that “love does not despair of the future” and that we are invited to live in the hope “of one who knows that others can change, mature and radiate unexpected beauty and untold potential.” As persons made in the image and likeness of God, we all have the potential to radiate truth and beauty. The Lord is not done with us yet (Phil 1:6).
Love endures all things
“...Love bears every trial with a positive attitude,” Pope Francis tells us. Oh, and there will be trials in marriage. No couple is exempt. We are all suffering in one way or another. However, we are called to love in a revolutionary way… to love one another as Christ loves His bride the Church.
Pope Francis concludes Chapter 4 of “Amoris Laetitia” by saying “None of this, however, is possible without praying to the Holy Spirit for an outpouring of his grace, his supernatural strength and his spiritual fire, to confirm, direct and transform our love in every new situation.”
Hence, we pray: Lord, pour out your Holy Spirit over our marriage and family. Give us the grace to be a total gift of ourselves to our spouse, our children, and others, as you became a total gift of yourself to The Church. In you Lord, there is truly a “happily ever after”. Thank you. Amen.
Mario Martinez is the Coordinator of the Diocesan Marriage Initiative.