I wonder how many people in Catholic marriages are aware of National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14) and World Marriage Day (Sunday, Feb. 12).
It would be interesting to know how many parishes have planned anything to celebrate this week.
But the most interesting question for me would be how those “married in church” would respond to this question: “How are Catholic marriages different from other marriages?”
In this Vincentian Mindwalk I invite you explore with me…
An informed opinion
Dr. Greg Popcak and Lisa Popcak were featured speakers at the 2015 World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia, and keynoters for the Tenth World Meeting of Families in Rome 2022.
Two quotes caught my eye from their writings
They tend to think that as long as they say Catholic prayers, go to Church on Sunday, and turn to marriage and parenting resources that either mention Jesus and/or confirm their unexamined personal biases about relationships, they are de facto living out the Church’s vision of marriage and family life…
The problem goes even deeper. It isn’t just that Catholic families aren’t definitively Catholic. It’s that many Catholic families–even devout Catholic families–aren’t even families any more. Like their secular counterparts, many Catholic families have allowed themselves to become collections of individuals living under the same roof. The wider culture has lost a sense of what it means to be a family and to live the mechanics of family life. It used to be that families would join around regular meal times, game nights, family days, household projects, prayer, and of course Sunday worship.
Now, “family life” is the 3 secs we see our kids on the way to busing them to their various lessons, activities, and hobbies and running to our own meetings and commitments. In this, the Third Generation of the Culture of Divorce, many people feel like family rituals (meals, prayertime, family day, game nights, family projects) are things Ozzie and Harriet did in the 1950’s. They seem like a fairy tale. Too many Catholic families are caught up in this tide, following it rather than fighting it.
Marriage as the “Church in miniature”
I have had a life-long interest in an image of sacramental marriages as “Mirrors of God’s Love” or the “church in miniature”. Marriage actually is church in miniature.
I wonder how many know that the family is a little church with the same mission as the Church universal
I also wonder how many see marriage as a place where we learn to encounter Christ in each other.
This not a novel idea. Pope Benedict XVI was fond of commenting on it.
“Willed by God in very action of creation, marriage and family are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ and have need of His graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin and restored to their “beginning,” that is, to full understanding and the full realization of God’s plan” (#3).
What are the practical implications is a question that needs to be explored!
But that’s the subject of another post.
How aware are you that marriage has the same vocation and mission as the church?
Since I am still coping with Covid I give special thanks to Monica for making sense of the thoughts I sent her
It seems that in many ways the description of [problems in] Catholic marriages follow the problems of the Catholic Church in general: say proper Catholic prayers, go to mass on Sunday — that fulfills what it means to be Catholic. Oh, then go on to the not even really family anymore and “allowed themselves to become collections of individuals living under the same roof. ” There you have it. The Church so often doesn’t know what it means to be a family or the Body of Christ. Pretty good summary.
We are so often just a collection of individuals who sometimes find ourselves under the same roof repeating the same words. How to move towards a deeper understanding of marriage and community and church is something to be explored and lived out.
The needs of every family change over time. Most families seem to find ways of keeping an element of unity within it, whether that be faith-based or need-based. Changes in health and income force decisions that would have been inconceivable years earlier. Death, divorce or other emotional tragedies take a different toll on families; some recover, some struggle to find an uneasy peace, some end in despair. Even in “healthy” families, there comes a time when the “bird needs to leave the nest.” Rather than laud the growth and maturity taking place, some parents become overprotective and don’t allow normal growth and exploration to take place.
The Church continually reminds us of her immutable message. But, so often, she doesn’t realize that the message might be falling on ears unable to hear. When the Church becomes so far removed from where folks find themselves emotionally and spiritually, that message cannot be heard and other more relatable options take its place.
As Richard Bach reminded me many years ago in the book “Illusions,” the sky we look at is perfect, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t constantly adapting to many forces. It allows us to predict some patterns but invites us to remain open to other possibilities. Therein seems to be the message for families and the Church.
Thank you, Fr. John, for writing this beautiful Mindwalk and thanks to Monica for her help.
First of all, I ask God to help you and give you your full health back.
No, I did not know about National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14) and World Marriage Day (Sunday, Feb. 12).
However, with Mike, we always celebrate these days since our Wedding Anniversary is February 13th and we always thank you for officiating at our wedding here in New York 30 years ago!
I think that the time has come for the Church to reflect on new ways to tend “the sheep” in their married even if I wouldn’t know where to start. Maybe by praying the Holy Spirit to help us?
I also thank you for officiating our marriage, almost 23 years ago. I am so glad that through the years, my family still enjoys spending time together, visiting important people in our lives, or sitting down together for dinner, a movie, or a game. As the children get older, they may not go to mass with us on Sundays, but I know their faith is their and has a great foundation.
I agree with Beth in saying, “There you have it. The Church so often doesn’t know what it means to be a family or the Body of Christ. ” Maybe a good question might also be, “how many see the church as a place where we learn to encounter Christ in each other?”