POPE FRANCIS ON THE 6TH COMMANDMENT:
THOU SHALL NOT COMMIT ADULTERY.
Below you have the Zenit translation of the Holy Father’s Catechesis given on Oct. 24, 2018.
Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!
In our itinerary of catecheses on the Commandments we come today to the Sixth Word, which has to do with the affective and sexual dimension, and states: “Do not commit adultery.” The immediate call is to fidelity and, in fact, no human relationship is authentic without fidelity and loyalty.
One can’t love as long as it’s “convenient”; Love manifests itself precisely beyond the threshold of self-interest, when all is given without reservations. As the Catechism affirms: ”Love seeks to be definitive; it cannot be an arrangement ’until further notice’” (n. 1646). Fidelity is the characteristic of the free, mature responsible human relationship. A friend also shows himself authentic when he remains such, regardless of any eventuality; otherwise he isn’t a friend. Christ reveals authentic love, He who lives of the boundless love of the Father, and by dint of this He is the faithful Friend who welcomes us even when we make a mistake and always wants our good, even when we don’t deserve it.
The human being has need of being loved unconditionally, and one who doesn’t receive this reception bears within him certain incompleteness, often without knowing it. The human heart seeks to fill this void with surrogates, accepting compromises and mediocrity, which have only a vague flavour of love. The risk is to call “love” acerbic and immature relationships, with the illusion of finding light of life in something that, in the best of cases, is only a reflection of it.
Thus it happens, for example, that physical attraction is overvalued, which in itself is a gift of God, but its end is to prepare the way for a genuine and faithful relationship with the person. As John Paul II said, the human being “is called to full and mature spontaneity of relationships,” which “is the gradual fruit of discernment of the impulses of one’s heart.” It’s something that is won, from the moment that every human being “must learn with perseverance and coherence what is the meaning of the body” (Cf. Catechesis, November 13, 1980).
The call to the conjugal life requires, therefore, a careful discernment on the quality of the relationship and a time of engagement to verify it. To accede to the Sacrament of Marriage, the engaged couple must mature the certainty that the hand of God is in their bond, who precedes them and accompanies them, and will enable them to say: “With the grace of Christ I promise to be faithful always.” They can’t promise themselves fidelity “in joy and in sorrow, in health and in sickness,” and to love and honour one another all the days of their life, only on the basis of good will or of the hope that “the thing will work.” They are in need of basing themselves on the solid ground of the faithful Love of God. And because of this, before receiving the Sacrament of Marriage, there must be careful preparation, I would say a catechumenate, because one stakes one’s whole life in love, and one doesn’t joke with love. “Preparation to marriage” can’t be defined by three or four conferences given in the parish. No, this isn’t preparation: this is a feigned preparation. And the responsibility of the one who does this falls on him: on the parish priest, on the Bishop who allows these things. The preparation must be mature and time is needed. It’s not a formal act: it’s a Sacrament, but it must be prepared for with a true catechumenate.
Fidelity, in fact, is a way of being, a style of life. One works with loyalty, one speaks with sincerity, one remains faithful to the truth in one’s thoughts, in one’s actions. A life woven with fidelity is expressed in all the dimensions and leads to being faithful and reliable men and women in every circumstance.
However, to come to such a life, our human nature isn’t enough, the fidelity of God must enter our existence and infect us. This Sixth Commandment calls us to turn our gaze to Christ, who with His fidelity can remove from us an adulterous heart and give us a faithful heart. In Him, and only in Him, there is love without reservations and afterthoughts, complete donation without parenthesis and the tenacity of acceptance to the end.
Our fidelity stems from His Death and Resurrection, from His unconditional love stems constancy in relationships. Communion among us, and the ability to live our bonds in fidelity, stem from communion with Him, with the Father and with the Holy Spirit.
[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]