Pope Francis

Pope Francis used his General Audience of 13th May 2015, the feast of Our Lady of Fatima, to address what he termed the “real life” of families today.

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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