Pope Pius XXII, April 3, 1940
Pope Pius XXII, April 3, 1940
Moved by a sense of faith, dear newlyweds, you come here to evoke our Apostolic Benediction upon the springtime of your life on a day when the springtime of nature is lavishing her smiles upon you. And it is indeed a sense of faith that we would like to inspire by inviting you to listen for a few moments to what poets and artists call the song of spring around you and within you.
If three notes are all that is needed to set the tonal key of a musical composition, the song of spring can be condensed for a Christian into three notes, the harmony of which puts his soul in tune with God Himself: faith, hope and charity.
Faith, as you know, is a theological virtue by which we believe in God whom we do not see with the eyes of our body; in His infinite goodness, which His justice at times conceals from shortsighted humankind; and in His omnipotence, which in the hasty conclusions of men appears to contradict His mysterious forbearance.
Now the faithful return of spring reminds you that although at times He seems to change, Almighty God is in reality unchangeable because He is eternal, that His dispositions occur each in its turn, that each of His designs is accomplished at the hour fixed by His divine providence.
Yesterday, it was still winter, and everything in nature seemed dead; the sky was overcast and the mountains covered with snow; the sun was weak and dim. But all at once the sky brightens again; the storm winds subside; the sun becomes more radiant and beneath its warm rays life stirs anew in earth’s bosom. Thus the work of God never dies; there is no winter without a spring; what seems death in nature is only the prelude to rebirth.
Therefore, dear newlyweds, as the springtime of life opens for you, enter upon it with deep faith in God and with firm confidence in His power and goodness. You may have trials. God Himself at certain moments will almost seem to leave you alone in the toils of trouble like a father who, hiding himself for a moment, enjoys measuring the strength of his own son.
Like a father too, in His justice He will permit anguish of body or soul to purify you, offering it to you as a means of healing penitence. Clouds may invade today’s azure sky of your mutual love and obscure its splendor for a time.
Revive then your trust in God; revitalize the faith in your vows, faith in sacramental grace, faith in the sweet appeasement of sincere and ready reconciliation, which in its own way is a kind of springtime too, since after the cold and the storm it ushers in the return of calm and understanding and peace.
To the lesson of faith spring adds that of hope. Although the sun stirs the sluggish soil and loosens the white cloak from the shoulders of the mountains, it does not yet enkindle the earth with the flame that will give it the full splendor of its adornment and the stupendous explosion of its fertility.
The sap softens the trunks and stalks and opens the moist lips of new buds on the stems, but the trees do not yet toss their leafy tresses in the wind. Soon the nests will resound with bird-song. Life goes on!
Hope—this joy of a happiness that is yearned for and expected, but as yet possessed only in the promise or the pledge, bursts forth through all creation in spring. In the supernatural order hope, like faith, is a theological virtue, which means that it binds man personally to God. It does not yet lift the veil of faith to disclose to our eyes the eternal and divine object of heavenly contemplation. But it does bring to the soul that cooperates with grace the assurance of its future possession in the infallible promise of the Redeemer; of this it gives the pledge and prefigurement, in the Resurrection of God-made-man, which, too, came to pass in a blazing dawn of spring.
The song of hope is surely singing in this springtime of your hearts. To marry is, like doves in April, to build a nest. Now even the domestic abode, this nest of the new family, is often built only a little at a time with great effort and care, in the hollow of hard rocks or on a wind-shaken branch; but this work is carried on with joy because it is undertaken with hope.
To found a family is not only to live for one’s self, to develop meaningfully within one’s self physical strength, spiritual faculties, supernatural qualities of the soul; it is to extend life, that is to say, it is to wish, as it were, to return to life and live again, despite time and death, in one generation after another, thrilled at the measureless vista unfolding through uncounted succession of ages.
Unhappy indeed are those couples who have neither understood nor savored the sweetness of this hope! Unhappier still and culpable are they who contrary to the laws of the Creator restrict or even prevent this hope from entering the family nest! Perhaps too late they will recognize that, merely for some fleeting pleasure, they have opened in their homes the door to that abyss from which all hope is barred.
Lastly, charity too sounds its note—one might say the dominant note—in the song of spring for it is above all a hymn of love. Love, true and pure, is the gift of self; it is the longing for total diffusion and donation which is the essence of goodness and through which God, Infinite Goodness, Charity itself, was moved to give of Himself in creation.
This expansive power of love is so great that it has no limits. As from all eternity the Creator loves the creatures whom, by an omnipotent aspiration of His mercy, He wishes to call from nothingness to time and being—”Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love, therefore have I drawn thee, taking pity on thee” (Jer. 31:3)—so the Word Incarnate, come among men, “having loved his own who were in the world, loved them to the end” On. 13:1).
Observe, dear sons and daughters, how this need to give and be given presently manifests and reflects itself in nature! “Air, water and earth with love are filled,” exclaims the poet (Petrarch), extolling the beauties of spring. Life expands, and its magnificence in giving of itself is only a faint image of God’s.
But if such be the extent of divine bounty in the natural order, how much more marvelous is it in the order of grace, which for humankind surpasses all limits of its possibilities! Listen then, dear husbands and wives, to your own heart. You will hear it sing the generous and selfless hymn, which yearns for the total gift of self.
This imperious desire for mutual sacrifice will be satisfied in you only if the gift to each other, sanctioned by a sacred vow, is to be complete, unreserved, irrevocable, like the gift of yourselves which you must make to God.
Charity is one; the bond interwoven between you in Christian marriage has something of the divine in its nature, like religion itself, and thus something of the eternal in its effects. Be faithful to it.
Notwithstanding the trials, the clashes, the temptations, it is an ideal that may seem beyond human capacities, but which will become a supernatural reality if you cooperate with the grace of the sacrament which has been given to you precisely to strengthen your union in the Blood of the Redeemer, a union as indissoluble as that of Christ with His Church.
The authority of parents will rarely be effectively exercised unless it is backed up by their good example. In all moral and spiritual matters, the example of parents should be the first teacher of their children. ~Fr. Donald Miller, C.SS.R.
Thought for today….
Dear Devoted Wife,
Give your marriage a little refresher!
With the help of this journal, you will be disciplined in the next 30 days to write down positive, thankful thoughts. You will be thinking about good memories, special moments, the qualities you are grateful for in your husband, etc.
This will help you to appreciate your husband and will affect your marriage in a positive way. If you can carry some of these strategies into your daily life, your marriage will be much improved, which will, in turn, affect your family life in general. The effort is worth it!
PRINTABLE available here.
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