By Elise Harris
Vatican City, May 13, 2015 / 09:04 am (CNA/EWTN News).- In his general audience Pope Francis focused on the concrete challenges families face in daily life, and said that simply remembering to be grateful and to apologize can go a long way in avoiding conflict.
“Dear brothers and sisters, today’s catechesis is the opening of the door to a series of reflections on family life, real life, daily life,” the Pope told pilgrims present in St. Peter’s Square May 13.
“Above this door are written three words that we have already used other times: May I, thank you, and I’m sorry. They are words linked to good manners, (and) in their genuine sense of respect and desire for good, (they are) far away from any hypocrisy and duplicity,” he said.
Francis’ address was a continuation of his ongoing catechesis on the family, which he began at the end of last year as part of the lead-up to the World Day of Families in September, as well as October’s Synod of Bishops on the Family.
Although the words ’May I,’ ‘thank you’ and ‘I’m sorry’ can be hard to say or put into practice, their absence “can cause cracks in the foundation of the family, which can lead to its collapse,” the Pope said.
However, if families make a habit of including the phrases in their daily lives as a sign of love for one another rather than just a formal expression of good manners, they can strengthen a happy family life, he continued.
The word ‘May I’ is a reminder that we should be “delicate, respectful and patient with others,” he said. Even if we feel like 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.”
Kindness helps to renew trust and respect, and reveals the love we have for others, the Pope noted, saying that we should always imitate Jesus, who stands at the door of our hearts and knocks, waiting for us to open it to him.
He then turned to the second word, noting that to say ‘thank you’ can seem like a contradiction in a distrustful society, which tends to view this attitude as weakness.
Despite this perception, it is through an “education in gratitude” that that social justice and the dignity of persons are upheld, he said.
Gratitude Francis continued, “is a virtue that for believers is born from the same heart of their faith… (it) is also the language of God, to whom above all we must express our gratitude.”