Vatican City, Jan 16, 2014 / 02:04 am
The Pontifical Council for the Family is promoting a special encounter between Pope Francis and couples who have been engaged, which will take place on the upcoming feast of Saint Valentine.
Invited to the meeting with the Pope are those couples "who have already attended, or are currently going through their marriage preparation courses," the council's webpage states.
Couples who meet these qualifications will gather in the Vatican's Paul VI hall on Feb. 14 at 11 a.m. to receive the personal greetings and message of the Pope.
The Pontifical Council for the Family, which is organizing the event, is part of the Roman Curia and was established by Bl. John Paul II in 1981 in order to promote the pastoral care of families and to protect their rights and dignity within society so that they might be more able to fulfill their duties.
Although this will be the first meeting of its kind with Pope Francis, it is not first time this type of encounter has been held.
On Sept. 11, 2011, former pontiff Benedict XVI met with young couples in Ancona, Italy in honor of the Eucharistic Congress at the time, and Monsignor Vincenzo Paglia of the diocese of Terni has also promoted similar activities each year on the holiday.
In his speech to engaged couples, Benedict XVI expressed some of the challenges which can inhibit relationships from flourishing, including difficulties in finding a steady job and living amid an individualistic culture.
Encouraging the couples not to "fear to face these challenges," and to "never lose hope," the former pontiff emphasized to them the importance of maintaining an encounter with God, "especially in personal and community prayer."
"The Church too is close to you, supports you and never ceases to look at you with great trust," he said, and cautioned them against shutting themselves into "intimist" and "falsely reassuring relationships."
Reminding the couples also to choose "with conviction" the "forever" that connotes love, Benedict noted that this indissolubility "is a gift," to be "desired" and "lived out," also affirming that authentic love requires a process of "maturation."
Couples who wish to register for the special Feb. 14 encounter with Pope Francis can do so at the diocesan office of the Family, the secretariats of the movements and associations, or by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. Registration closes on Jan. 30, 2014.