GENERAL AUDIENCE: “THE ENGAGEMENT CANNOT BE IMPROVISED” In his catechesis at St. Peter’s Square, Pope Francis invited those present to read the Italian masterpiece “The Betrothed”

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As every Wednesday, Pope Francis held his General Audience in St. Peter’s Square to talk with the believers and the pilgrims. Following the central theme of his last audiences – family – today Francis focused on engagement, that, as the Pope explained, “is a word that has to do with trust, with reliability. It is intimacy with the vocation that is given by God, because marriage is first of all the discovery of a call. Obviously, it is wonderful that today young people can base their marriage on a mutual love, but it is this freedom that requires a harmonious decision, not only an understanding of the attraction or of the feeling. It is a gradual process.”

“During the engagement – explained the Pope – the woman gets to know the man, and vice versa. It is an important opportunity for the couple to know each other, it is something that cannot be improvised, but that has to be built together. The love between a woman and a man is a path on which one learns and refines. It is, I dare say, an artisanal alliance.”

Inspired by Italian culture and referring to “the Betrothed”, the Pope said: “In your literature you have a masterpiece about engagement: young boys and girls must know it and read it. It recounts the story of a betrothed couple who suffer greatly, who walk a path full of many difficulties before arriving at the end, at their marriage. Do not forget this masterpiece on betrothal: read it!”

Continuing his consideration, Francis said: “To make two lives one is almost a miracle of freedom and of the heart, entrusted to faith. We must perhaps work more on this point, as our ‘sentimental coordinates’ have become a little confused. Those who wish to attain everything immediately, also give up everything straight away at the first hurdle. There is no trust and loyalty if love is consumed as a supplement for the physical and mental wellness. Love is not that! Engagement focuses on the will to preserve something together, something that should never be bought or sold, betrayed or abandoned, however tempting the alternatives may be”.

Then, Bergoglio highlighted the differences between being engaged and being married. A distinction maintained by the Church, “in view of the delicate and profound nature of this relation. The powerful symbols of the body hold the keys of the soul: we cannot treat the bonds of the flesh lightly, without opening up lasting wounds of the spirit”. About this matter, he talked about the experience of young engaged couples that go to pre-matrimonial courses reluctantly, but then they are enthusiastic and grateful, because they are given the opportunity to think about their relationship not in a banal way.

“Many couples stay together for a long time, also intimately, living together, without truly knowing each other. It seems strange, but it happens very often. Therefore there is a need to re-evaluate engagement, considering it as a time useful to know each other and to share a plan.” At the end of his speech, before reciting a Hail Mary, the Pope concluded by inviting each couple to say to each other: “You’ll be my wife, you’ll be my husband”, experiencing the whole preparation process without rushing into things.

Translation provided by Maria Rosaria Mastropaolo

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