My friends in Christ, the family is
the basic building block and the basic cell of the society. The Council of Vatican II has stated that the
family indeed is the Domestic Church.
The following ten points are directed at helping us to foster good
families. Especially we must help young people who are called to the marriage
vocation to take seriously their choice of the proper spouse as well as undergo
the necessary preparation for the sublime vocation of marriage and family.
PRAYER BEFOREHAND. Parents should pray and even offer Masses for
their children that they make the right choice for their partner of life. By far, this is the
most important decision in life. Unfortunately most people today make the wrong
choice as to their marriage partner. Just look at the divorce rates that have skyrocketed
over the past 25 years. Also the youth should pray to God that they make the
right choice. The choice should not be based
merely on physical attraction, economic reasons, and physical talents and
degrees. The most important criteria should be will this person help me and my
future family arrive safely home to heaven. Remember the words of Jesus: “What
would it profit a man to gain the whole world and lose his soul?”
NO TRIAL-MARRIAGE. It has indeed become an epidemic among the
young generation of today to start off with what is called a
“Trial-marriage”. This means, the
mentality of today is simply to try it out.
Their reasoning is the following: “We have to see if we are compatible;
if we have “Chemistry”. The best way to find out is to live together to see if
it really works out. Totally wrong! In the meantime, they live in mortal sin,
deprive themselves of access to the Sacraments of Confession and the Eucharist
and give bad example to other young people, including their own siblings! Start off on the right foot by Sacramental
marriage and not by living in free-union or cohabitation!
MARRIAGE PREPARATION. Any pursuit or endeavor of authentic value demands
hard work and preparation. Successful
professionals have many years of prior studies; athletes exert painstaking
hours of blood, sweat and tears to arrive at the heights of their
performance. Future priests have to
study many years--- philosophy, theology, and serious spiritual training to
become excellent priests. The same can
be applied to the married life. Young people should not kid themselves into
believing that they will form a good family without serious preparation. The athletes put it this way: “No pain, no
PROPER UNDERSTANDING AND USE OF
SEXUALITY. Young people must understand
that there is a proper time and place for everything. This especially applies
to the proper use of sexuality. Human
sexuality has its proper place only between a man and woman that have been
married sacramentally in the church. In other words, no sexual relations until
the night of the honeymoon--- not a minute before!
LEARNING AND ACCEPTING NFP (NATURAL
FAMILY PLANNING). As a sequel to the previous point regarding human sexuality,
married couples must never have recourse to immoral means of avoiding children.
This means any use of any artificial means of preventing the conception of the
child is intrinsically disordered. The
Church teaches that for a just cause couples can postpone and avoid having
children. However, the avoidance of children should never imply using the Pill,
Norplant, Condom, hormones to prevent the conception. Read Pope Paul VI’s
encyclical “Humanae Vitae” , July 25,
1968. All of this obviously implies
that couples engaged to be married should feel the serious obligation incumbent
upon themselves to learn NFP before they are married! Furthermore, all pastors and
priests engaged in preparing couples for marriage should provide the means by
which these couples can take a course and learn the Natural Family Planning
method approved by the Church. Experience has proven that one of the primary
reasons for divorce is the rampant use of contraceptives. (Listen to the excellent
talk given by Dr. Janet Smith “Contraception
why not?”). Dr. Smith explains
clearly the countless benefits of NFP as well as the nefarious and fatal
consequences of caving in to the Contraceptive mentality.
THE THREE C’S OF MARRIAGE. Even before entering into the life-long
commitment of marriage the couple should be cognizant of the “Three-C’s of
Marriage”. What then are the “Three-C’s?”
COMMUNICATION, COMMITMENT, AND CHRISTOCENTRIC MARRIAGE. The couple must learn the art of dialogue
before marriage and into marriage. Many marriages fall apart due to poor
communication. Commitment must be total and irreversible. In the marriage
ceremony the priest asks the question to both separately: “Do you promise to be
faithful in good times, and bad, in health and in sickness, in richness and poverty
until death to you part?” The response
must be a resounding: “I do!” This is
for life, until death do they part!
CHRISTOCENTRIC! By far the most important binding force in
any successful marriage is the person of CHRIST. Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote a book on
marriage with the title: “It takes three to get married”. Who are
those three? The husband, the wife and
Jesus the Lord. Jesus must be the third partner of any successful marriage. If
you like, Jesus is the super-glue that holds the marriage together.
MARRIAGE MENTORS. Teachers, athletes, young and budding
professionals need others with more experience to help them, to coach them
along, to help them to see clearly the right path. This concept of mentoring or coaching can and
should be applied to couples preparing for their marriage commitment. Parishes
can set up a team of “Mentors” to provide invaluable guidance. These mentors
are couples who have been married for a good block of time, have been involved in
marriage preparation, and are living a deep spiritual and sacramental life.
From their wealth of experience and deep spiritual life they can mentor and
support this young couple. Advice on possible dangers, as well as good advice
from their own experience can prove exceedingly beneficial!
UNION IN PRAYER AND THE SACRAMENTS IN THE
COURTSHIP. Pastoral and intellectual
preparation is indispensable in preparing couples for the life-long marriage
commitment. However, the courting couple should form the habit of praying
together even before they are married. Better yet, they should get into the
habit of attending Holy Mass together and receiving the Holy Eucharist
together. As such, both receive a “Spiritual Heart-transplant”. They receive in
Holy Communion the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ. The love of
the Sacred Heart of Jesus will be flowing through their own veins and into
their own hearts! Indeed this is what it
really means to be a CHRISTOCENTRIC marriage!
10. READING MATERIAL. Today the modern world is swimming in a vast
ocean of words, ideas, and limitless information. Pastors, priests, deacons as
well as those involved in preparing couples for the vocation of marriage should
have a rich Bibliography of material that can be read, heard or viewed by those
embarking upon the vocation of marriage. Ecclesial documents should be
provided: “Familiaris Consortio” of Pope John Paul II, his letter to the Family
1994, as well as numbers from Gaudiem and
Spes regarding marriage and family and the Catechism of the Catholic
Church. In my pastoral experience
preparing couples for marriage the text “A
Catholic Handbook for Engaged and Newly Married Couples” By Frederick Marks,
Ph. D, Emmaus Road Publishers has proved to be a gem for those soon to be
married as well as the newly married couples.
Blessed Pope John Paul II clearly
stated that the future of the society is closely connected with the state of
the family. The great
civilizations—Greek, Roman—to mention just two, unravelled and fell apart
largely due to the crisis and destruction of the family.
Therefore confronted with so many
negative and opposing forces in the society militating against
marriage—divorce, homosexual unions, and adultery—we must do all on our part to
defend traditional marriages and the family. Let us beg good St. Joseph, Mary
and Jesus to come to our rescue!