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Pope Francis spoke of the “unimaginable dignity” of marriage at his weekly public audience on May 6.

The Pope reminded his audience of St. Paul’s teaching that marriage “is the image of the love between Christ and the Church.” At the same time, he said, “it is inscribed in God’s plan of creation.”

Pope Francis said that in discussion of Christian marriage, the focus should not be the ceremony, “but rather the sacrament made by the Church, giving rise to a new family community.” He spoke of St. Paul’s exhortation to husbands to love their wives as their own bodies, and underlined “this radicalism of the devotion required of man.”

Christian marriage, the Pope continued, is the “seed of evangelical newness.” The commitment made by the spouses is “a great act of faith and of love: it bears witness to the courage of believing in the God’s creating act and of living that love that drives us always to go onwards, beyond ourselves and even beyond the family itself.”

The Pope challenged the faithful to question their own attitude toward marriage, asking: “Do we accept fully, ourselves, as believers and pastors, this indissoluble bond of the history of Christ and the Church with the history of marriage and the human family?”

A Christian marriage also has “a missionary dimension,” reaching out to the world as a conduit of God’s grace and a witness to the power of love, the Pope said. Thus he concluded: “The Church, to offer the gift of faith, love and hope to all, is in need of the courageous faithfulness of married couples in the grace of their sacrament.” http://www.catholicculture.org

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