Richard A. Sokerka
What are the keys to opening a path to a happy family life?
Pope Francis addressed this in his most recent catechesis on the life of the family.
He focused on three simple phrases: “May I?”, “Thank you,” and “I am sorry.”
“They are simple words,” he said, “but not so simple to put into practice.” They are based not simply on good manners, he said, but on deep love and respect for others and they have “great power to strengthen family life.”
‘May I?’ is important, Pope Francis said, because when “we concern ourselves with gently requesting even those things we might think we have a right too, we place a real defense for the spirit of harmony in the marriage and the family,” remarking that “even Jesus asks permission to enter our lives.”
“Thank you,” he said, is an integral part of the life of a Christian. “Too often in modern society,” Pope Francis said, “evil words and behaviors are touted as expressions of freedom, while kindness and courtesy are seen as signs of weakness, or even viewed with suspicion. These attitudes must be rejected in family life.” He said “a spirit of gratitude within the family is at the foundation of respect for the dignity of the human person and of social justice.”
“I am sorry,” he said, “is difficult to say, but absolutely necessary.” Pope Francis said the ability to ask for forgiveness goes hand-in hand with the ability to forgive others. “If we are not able to apologize, it means we are unable to forgive,” he said.
And he offered this sound advice to families: “Never finish the day without making peace.”
Sometimes, even simple words can bring a family together and strengthen it in a way not felt before. May we pray with Pope Francis in asking the Lord “to help us to put these words back in their proper place — in our hearts and in our homes.”