Friday, February 14, 2014
Strengthening the gift of Marriage
By Norma Montenegro Flynn
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops just launched a bilingual video and study guide titled: Marriage: Made for Love and Life. The video features two couples: grandparents celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and a young couple who do not believe in marriage.
The video and study guide target many issues our Hispanic families currently face: Young adults whose lives have been impacted by their parents’ divorce, being raised in a household with a single parent, and those who surrender to the pressure from society to view marriage between a man and a woman as something outdated.
Only a few days ago, my husband and I attended a wedding. The priest told the couple that the rings they were about to exchange were a reminder of the promise they make before God to honor their vows. It represents having God as a witness and at the same time it is an invitation to tell God “So help me, God.” Help us in the difficult times to keep this promise alive and respect, honor and love my spouse. It is a powerful message that many forget or reject when conflict and difficulties arise.
The Marriage: Unique for a Reason initiative invites people to learn more about the meaning of marriage and family so we can also have the knowledge to defend and honor it. The video and study guide are available as resources for dioceses and parish groups and address all four catechetical themes of the Marriage: Unique for a Reason initiative: sexual difference and complementarity, the good of children, the common good and religious freedom.
Sexual differences and complementarity matter. A marriage is between a man and a woman and their sexual differences complement each other and should be cherished. This section also addresses how marriage has been culturally weakened in the last few decades: “Due to the widespread use of contraception, sterilization and the approval of no-fault divorce laws, faithfulness and fruitfulness have largely been redefined out of marriage. What’s left are the two essential elements: man and woman, and those are now under attack by law and culture. Defending the importance of sexual difference in marriage is crucial. But even more crucial is presenting again to a jaded, hurt society the full truth of marriage: one man and one woman open to life, committed until death,” the guide reads.
The next chapter addresses the gift of children in a marriage, and the right of every child to be protected and respected from the moment of conception. It analyzes the importance of having a married mother and father and why the roles of each parent are not interchangeable.
Marriage and the Common Good, addresses why marriage differs from cohabitation, why strong marriages develop into strong families and why they benefit society.
The final chapter, on religious liberty, explores how societal attempts to redefine marriage in the law threaten religious freedom and have a negative impact on families and society.
Just two generations ago, marriages lasted for life. Our grandparents lived by the idea that if something is broken it needs to be fixed, not discarded. Similarly, marriages needed to be fixed, not discarded. But nowadays, society praises the “throw-away culture” that Pope Francis warns us against. Honoring the promise we made at the altar takes time and effort, but as we see in those couples that have spent a lifetime together, the fruits of that love are worth the effort.
Norma Montenegro Flynn is assistant director of Media Relations at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops