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Pope Francis at his Wednesday General Audience continued his catechesis on the family, focusing on family life.

“Today’s catechesis is like the gateway to a series of reflections on the life of the family, its real life, with its different times and events.” On this gateway, he said, “are written three words, which I’ve already used many times: ‘May I?’, ‘Thank you,’ and ‘Pardon me.’” These three words, Pope Francis said, “open the path” to a happy family life. “They are simple words,” he said, “but not so simple to put into practice.” These three words, when they are based not simply on good manners, but on deep love and respect for others, have great power to strengthen family life.

Below, please find the English-language summary of Pope Francis’ catechesis on the family during his weekly General Audience:

Dear Brothers and Sisters:  Today I would like to continue our catechesis on the family by reflecting on three phrases: “May I?”, “Thank you”, and “Pardon me”.  These simple phrases are not so easy to say or to put into practice.  But when they are ignored, their absence can cause cracks in the foundation of the family, which can lead to its collapse.  If these words are part of our daily lives, not just as a formal expression of good manners, but as a sign of deep love for one another, they strengthen a happy family life.  “May I?” – even if we think we have the right to something, when we speak to our spouse or family member with kindness we create space for a true spirit of marital and familial common life.  We renew trust and respect, revealing our love for others, and we allow them to open the door of their hearts to us.   “Thank you” – our society has great need for gratitude, which makes us more sensitive to the dignity of the human person and the demands of social justice.  Thankfulness is also the language of God, to whom above all we must express our gratitude.  “Pardon me” – Without these words, hurt can develop in our relationships, and weaken our life as a family.  But when we ask forgiveness, we show our desire to restore what was lost – respect, honesty, love – and healing between family members is made possible.  “May I?”, “Thank you”, “Pardon me” – Let us ask the Lord to keep these three phrases in our hearts, our homes and our communities.

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