I’VE been a priest for 14 years now, so have seen a growing collection of couples come into my office to prepare for their marriage.
I’ve also seen along the way a reasonable number of married couples in distress. One thing I have found frustrating is the lack of ministry to married couples.
If marriage is as important as we say it is – and as we believe it is – it is more than a little anachronistic that the Church in our part of the world seems not to have got its act together in proactively supporting the vocation to marriage.
In some ways, writing for an audience like this is like preaching to the choir.
But, I think Our Lord himself did a fair bit of preaching to the choir, because “the choir” – his apostles and disciples – always had something to learn, and very often were in need of Our Lord’s teaching.
In a ministry like Ministry to the Newly Married – like any ministry – the giving and receiving is never unilateral.
Why is this ministry so important?
One of the reasons is that marriage and family life as we know it, is in a profound crisis at this time.
The only way that we can have an effect on marriage and on the family in the world at large, is if we start with ourselves.
In order to evangelise the world, we first need to let our own hearts be evangelised by Christ.
We need to let our families be evangelised by Him; and our marriages.
We are called to “go and make disciples of all the nations” but we first need to be disciples.
If we are converted – and if our marriages are converted – then by the power of grace that conversion will bear fruit well beyond ourselves.
Seeking our conversion in marriage is part of the much-needed conversion of culture.
We could argue, I believe, that there has been a debasing of culture in the past 50 years.
Culture, in many respects, has lost its moorings.
It’s lost the things that kept it grounded, that kept it sane; so that now, culture tends to be blown along by any puff of wind – every new fad and trend.
Anything is acceptable, it seems.
If we are going to reform and convert culture, the logical place to do this is in marriage – since marriage is the vocation in which most of the human race will live out their lives.
As a canon lawyer, it’s hard to go past the succinct but profound definition of marriage given in canons 1055 and 1056 of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church, wherein it is stated:
“The marriage covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of their whole life, and which of its own very nature is ordered to the well-being of the spouses and to the procreation and education of children, has, between the baptised, been raised by Christ to the dignity of a sacrament.
“… The essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolulity; in Christian marriage they acquire a distinctive firmness by reason of the sacrament.”
In strengthening marriage and family life you are contributing to the “new evangelisation” that our recent popes have been constantly calling us to.
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