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National Marriage Day

Dear Parish Family,

As we approach Valentine’s Day, the church in America kicks off National Marriage Week. Valentine’s Day can tend to be “romantic” and some may think “we are too _____ for that kind of stuff!” But I hope all married couples will celebrate the gift of their married love next weekend. Our dear Columbiettes and dedicated Knights are hosting a wonderful evening at the Maple Room. So far, there has been a strong response. What a great way to celebrate not only married love, but to gather as a greater community and celebrate the gift of love together. I plan to join in, but don’t ask me to dance.

The theme for 2020 National Marriage Week is "Stories from the Domestic Church." In our Family Message Series we taught that the church holds up each family as a domestic church, a house church, a church in miniature. Now, the mission of the church is to make disciples and to spread the Kingdom of Heaven (see Mt 28:16-20). The mission entrusted to married couples parallels and embraces that reality (see CCC 1655-1666)

For man and woman who profess their life-long vows sacramentally before the church’s minister, marriage becomes a rich source of grace and blessing. Not all marriages are sacramental in nature, and thus not all couples receive the graces necessary to embrace this mission. I would encourage any couples who may not have the opportunity or awareness to profess their love in this fashion to seek to have their marriage blessed or convalidated. We would be delighted to assist you through that process.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, writing to a young bride and groom from his prison cell in Nazi Germany 1943, noted “It's not love that keeps your marriage alive. It's marriage that keeps your love alive.” Yes, love comes and love goes, especially those warm and passionate feelings of love. There are many loves, puppy love but also deep and enduring love. Anyone wishing to learn more should consult C.S. Lewis’ great book, The Four Loves. Bonhoeffer is onto something. Living Marriage - living the commitments of unity, indissolubility, and openness to life - with great dedication bolsters and enriches the love with which it began, the love that led to the wedding day. That love needs to be held, nourished and cherished. When times get tough, and they will eventually, it is reassuring to say with courage and devotion, “I have chosen you. I choose you.”

God remains faithful to his people and He asks married couples to be a sign of His fidelity. The marriage covenant is indissoluble, meaning cannot be broken, so that once couples profess their vows to one another they can live with confidence on the other side of that vow. They need not have any anxiety about how they are to love and spend their lives. The couple enters wedlock, an old fashioned term I realize, but the meaning holds and illuminates: bound in pledge. After contracting marriage, the couple is pledged in mutual and lasting fidelity, through all the storms of life, to be a sign in the world that God’s love is ever faithful and true, unwavering.

In God’s great wisdom, healthy marriages enrich many areas of our lives. The social sciences reveal that married adults live longer, enjoy better health, and greater personal happiness. Moreover, children who are raised by a married mother and father perform better in school, have fewer addictions, fewer teen pregnancies, and less trouble with the law. 

Yet our culture has endured a seismic shift in family structure over the course of the past few decades: less marriage, more cohabitation and divorce. At the same time income gaps broaden and class divides deepen. The New York Times highlighted sociological evidence of the impact of marriage on wealth, status, health, and happiness in an important article, “Two Classes, Divided by ‘I Do’”. Research shows that marriage is not only a sacrament but also an unsung anti-poverty program, and pro-healthy child program. God knew what he was doing! 

To learn more, see www.nationalmarriageweekusa.org.

May God bless you and your families!
Fr. Joel Wilson

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