The family is under violent attack! The stability and the future of the society depend on the stability of the family. God created man and woman to fall in love with each other, to cement their love and union with the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and then the most exalted gift of Holy Matrimony is the birth of the child.
Parents collaborate with God in bringing forth new life; this we call procreation. God indeed is the Creator and Lord of the universe. However, He calls man and woman to be united in Matrimony to collaborate with Him in bringing forth this new life. In the moment of conception God Himself intervenes infusing an immortal soul in that new human being that will live for all eternity. How sublime and noble is the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony and the formation of the human family.
We would like to offer a few concrete and concise suggestions so as to foster Holy Matrimony—between man and woman until death do they part. We hope and pray that traditional marriage and family as ordained by God would receive renewed vigor and hope for the future of the child, the society and the salvation of the world and large.
Athletes prepare before entering into performance. Future doctors spend many years in preparation for their mission of sustaining life and healing sicknesses. Future priests spend long years in the Seminary studying Philosophy and Theology and Church discipline. Future Olympians prepare years before the Olympic Games actually start.
Should not future married couples spend time and effort in studying the nature of marriage, the family, possible obstacles in the path so as to live out to the fullest extent possible their vocation of marriage? Parishes should provide for their prospect couples three invaluable tools:
- 1) Marriage-mentoring couples to give them spiritual and practical advice of how to live out marriage.
- 2) Couples should learn seriously the method and technique of Natural Family Planning. One of the principal reasons for tension in marriages, a dying of love and eventually separations is the contraceptive mentality. A woman who is forced by her husband to use contraceptives often feels used as an object and this causes much tension and bitterness in her heart. Couples should definitely learn NFP—the natural means to avoid children only if they have just and sufficient reason as Blessed Paul VI reminds us in his encyclical Humanae Vitae.
- 3) Engaged Couples Retreat. Making a weekend Engaged Couples Retreat can prove exceedingly useful for future marriage and family. If this retreat is well-organized and well-done, then the couples will be given the tools to live out their marriage peacefully, faithfully, harmoniously and with abundant blessings upon their children.
2. General Confession.
Highly recommended for a couple shortly before receiving the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is to make a General Confession of the sins of one’s whole life. Saint Ignatius of Loyola strongly exhorts those making the Spiritual Exercises to make a General Confession of one’s whole life as part of the exercises. Equally important is that of a couple about to make the most important decision in their lives to start with a clean slate by confessing all of their sins, purifying their consciences, immersing themselves in God’s infinite mercy and experiencing the peace that goes beyond all understanding.
New beginnings and a new life can be experienced by making a General Confession. What a tragedy, indeed, it would be for a couple to receive the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony in the state of mortal sin! Many marriages most likely experience constant tensions due to the couple starting off on the wrong foot by not being in the state of grace. The Father of the Prodigal Son is always waiting for us with His arms opened. Go to Him!
3. Christocentric Courtship and Marriage.
Venerable Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, of happy memory, was one of the first tele-evangelists in the United States. A great preacher and teacher he was; furthermore, Sheen was a prolific and profound writer. One of his classics on marriage is titled “It takes three to get married.” Who are these three? Quite simply they are the husband, the wife, and the third— and most important— is Jesus. Jesus is the super-glue that holds all marriages together.
4. Sacred Heart Transplant.
Next, married couples should have frequent recourse to the Sacraments, but especially the greatest of all of the Sacraments—the Most Holy Eucharist. In every Eucharist, consecrated Host, Jesus is truly present in His totality—Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. In the Body the noblest organ is the heart. Therefore, every time we receive Holy Communion we receive the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. This is a spiritual heart transplant. There is no more efficacious manner to fortify love between a married couple then to receive Holy Communion together—if at all possible, even on a daily basis. If done both husband and wife can love each other with the love of the most Sacred Heart of Jesus. How sublime but how true!
5. Consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.
Man and woman that make the decision to marry until death do they part and to be open to having children and bringing them to heaven should invite Our Lady, Mary most Holy, the Mother of God, to be constantly present with them! They should consecrate their purity and their courtship to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. On the day of the wedding they should present the bouquet of roses before the image of Mary and consecrate their marriage and family to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Then during the whole course of their married life they should make the firm decision to pray the most Holy Rosary to the Blessed Virgin Mary every day of their family life. Saint Pope John Paul II in his spiritual masterpiece “The Blessed Virgin Mary and the Rosary” exhorted forcefully that the most Holy Rosary be prayed especially for two intentions: 1) World Peace, 2) For the Family. The famous “Rosary priest” Father Patrick Peyton coined these immortal sayings: “The family that prays together stays together…” and “A world at prayer is a world and peace.” In conclusion, let us do all we can to foster matrimony and family. The future of the world passes through the family. May the Holy Family, Jesus, Mary and St. Joseph be our guide and strength!