Monday, June 30, 2014

On Marriage and Family

Today should one attend a wedding, it is quite possible that the parents of either the bride or groom in attendance will be married, either in the Catholic Church or outside it, to someone other than the one they were first married to. In such a case, one would find oneself praying that the offspring of said marriage will not meet with the same fate. 

The state of marriage today is what it is in part due to poor sacramental preparation in the years immediately following Vatican II for reasons I take up in my book, another fruit of the “sexual revolution”. Sad, but as is well-known, many young Catholics these days are delaying marriage, hooking up, practicing birth control, and cohabiting before getting married. Traditional marriage is under assault, and many baptized Catholics are joining in the attack, especially in favoring “same-sex marriage.” Thus it is inspiring to see the shepherds of the flocks gathering in synod to discuss “the pastoral challenges of the family in the context of evangelization.’ I say again, the synod will deal with the family in its various aspects – not with the single issue of Communion for the divorced and remarried.

Fr. Reese at National Catholic Reporter has described the document as boring and joyless.” Well, I find the situation described in the first paragraph of this post as such. Boring might only be true for the synod if one did not understand the genre of the document or if one was indifferent to the pastoral concerns of the shepherds. The bishops (and I) have the joy of hope for a new springtime for the family, which they believe will be led by young people who appreciate the value of a stable, enduring relationship, and express a real desire to marry and form a family.

From what I can gather, the bishops see the need for an encounter with Christ on a personal and communal level. True, the lack of comprehension of the biblical and magisterial teaching on the family is legion; in addition, many Catholics lack a felt encounter with Christ and his Church, and so in turn misunderstand who man is, and who he is to God and to his community. From Part I of the Catechism on the Profession of Faith:

Jesus knew and loved us each and all during his life, his agony, and his Passion and gave himself up for each one of us: “The Son of God . . . loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal. 2:20) He has loved us all with a human heart. For this reason, the Sacred Heart of Jesus, pierced by our sins and for our salvation (cf. Jn 19:34) “is quite rightly considered the chief sign and symbol of that . . . love with which the divine Redeemer continually loves the eternal Father and all human beings” without exception.

Significantly, the bishops also express a desire “to defend and encourage forms of popular piety in support of the family". I for one have always preferred the image of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, as it serves as a reminder to wish to be with Christ, to make one’s heart like his.While Fr. Reese may ridicule the hope of the Synod, I find it joyful to see that the Church herself always tries to make her heart like Christ’s.