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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

"The other vocation crisis - marriage"

From FaithMag.com
By the Most Reverend Earl A. Boyea, Bishop of Lansing

We have a vocation crisis in America. This is not what you think. It is a vocation crisis in marriage. Many are no longer getting married – and too many do not see their marriage as a sacrament, a means of grace for themselves and their families. Yet marriage and family are the natural heart of our society and the spiritual core of our church. Pope John Paul II stated in St. Louis in January 1999: “As the family goes, so goes the nation!”

Now, most of us know the solutions to this difficulty since we have seen very healthy marriages and thus know what they look like. I think of my own parents, who have been married for 58 years. They are not perfect. However, they do exhibit that fidelity, commitment and love which are the hallmarks of a good marriage.

Marriage is a communion of persons wherein new life is the fruit of love. The two purposes of marriage are the unitive (love of the couple) and procreative (blessings of children). Sexual expression is to be the deepest manifestation of these two purposes. Unfortunately, for the past 50 years, there has been growing not only a division between these two, but a chasm. It began with seeking to have marital relations without having children. Soon, however, sexual relations became completely separated from both love and children.
How do we get out of this mess? I would suggest five things.

First of all, we, married and single, need to know better who we are as created by God. Pope John Paul II’s Theology of the Body is vital to that process. Fundamentally, this means that we see ourselves as created in the image of the loving Trinity, where we really become human only in the total gift of ourselves, imitating the gift of Christ to us. The Trinity and the cross must be the center of every Christian’s life. This will give meaning to marriage, as well as to religious and priestly vocations.

Second, we need to counter the contraceptive mentality of our society, which has helped to create this gap between sexual activity, and love and children. The best way to do this is to promote Natural Family Planning. We know that commitment and companionship, based on hard work and dedication, are the solid bedrocks of a successful marriage. NFP supports this completely, and clearly invites into the marriage that one partner who is most needed: God. NFP is simple, satisfying and effective; and it engages the couple more completely in the family planning process. NFP does not change our bodily nature nor our bodily relationship; rather, it respects what is God-given.

Third, we need to recognize that marriage is good for us. Marriage “helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one’s own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church #1609) Marriage also can teach us the equality of men and women and their clear differences and complementarity by working toward a loving unity.

Fourth, we need to recall that marriage is good for children. Children in intact families are more likely to be successful and less likely to experience a myriad of evils that surround us. The roles of mother and father and their healthy interactions are important for the development of boys and girls and show them the beauty of faithful and eternal love. This is the best gift that a husband and wife can give to their children.

Finally, we need to pray and to celebrate the sacraments. Praying as a family, and praying as a couple are vital. Recourse to reconciliation and the Eucharist are essential for ourselves and for assisting our spouse and our family on their journey to heaven. Jesus commanded us to eat his flesh and drink his blood. Not doing so would mean that we would have no life in us. How can we share life, our life or any life, with our spouse or children if we do not have that life within us.

Marriage is essential for our society, for our church, and mostly for our salvation. Let us work and pray for the building of this great sacrament of service.


Anonymous said...

In the Peace of Jesus Christ, Our Lord..

I invite you to consider offering a Convocation for Vocations to be celebrated in the week between Ascension and Pentecost... Truly enter into the upper room and pray with Mary our Mother in open hearted waiting on the Holy Spirit. As a Convocation it is possible to focus attention on each vocation and their interrelatedness while placing an emphasis on one in particular. Dedicate each day to one of the vocational calls with Wednesday being dedicated in Prayer for Families... the cradle of all vocations.

A possible format to consider... Mass or Communion Service followed by Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament, Liturgy of the Hours and Rosary. As each of the Decades of the Rosary are offered... offer them in Praise and Thanksgiving for the Gift of the Annunciation, the Gift of the Visitation... etc. It is simple prayer foundation upon which a Mystagogy for the Anawim can emerge by the grace of the Holy Spirit.

Please... it isn't about numbers turning out... it is about the One with humble and contrite heart that cannot be spurned... Amen

Anonymous said...

When we think of the Vocation to the Single Life...

We think first of the Hidden Life of Jesus, when as a child Jesus was held in the loving embrace of His family, in the arms of Mary and Joseph.

We think of Jesus as a student, learning Scripture and to pray the Psalms. We think of Jesus in the Temple asking questions and offering answers.

We think of Jesus as a neighbor helping to repair a home and a worker in the trade of a carpenter building a table and securing a door. We think of Jesus as a friend listening with the ear of the heart to the needs of others.

We think of Jesus alone in the desert praying and fasting.

And so we pray for those in their journey to holiness as was Our Lord's hidden life...

We pray that they know love from those around them... and that they may love without expectation.

We pray that they will find the Word of God on their lips, in their minds and overflowing from their hearts.

We pray that they have eyes to see the needs of those around them, and hands to reach out to strengthen and renew the lives of others.

We pray that they have compassionate hearts, sustained by patience, forgiveness and understanding.

We pray that they know the faithfulness of God's Covenant of Love and find in Him the grace to pray... Father, I come to do your will" Through Christ Our Lord... Amen