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Good news about marriage

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This past Sunday, Sept. 19, designated as Catechetical Sunday by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, had as its theme “Marriage: Sacrament of Enduring Love.”

The majority of Catholics are unaware of the U.S. bishops’ vigorous fight “to defend, promote, strengthen, heal, and reconcile marriages.” As we say at the end of the magnificent document approved in November 2009, “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan”: “We pledge our collaboration with all who seek to create a vibrant culture of marriage rooted in God‘s plan for the good of humanity.”

This pastoral letter is only one ingredient in a strategic plan “to helping those called to the vocation of married life to live it faithfully, fruitfully, and joyfully.”

The father of this initiative is, undoubtedly, the great John Paul II, who more than 25 years ago made a prescient diagnosis: “At a moment of history in which the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it, and aware that the well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to the good of the family, the Church perceives in a more urgent and compelling way her mission of proclaiming to all people the plan of God for marriage and the family, ensuring their full vitality and human and Christian development, and thus contributing to the renewal of society and of the People of God.” (Apostolic Exhortation Familiaris Consortio 3)

The world’s culture has been enriched by his 88 catechesis regarding the theology of the body and by the multiple institutes created around the world that are dedicated to the serious study of marriage and the family.

What are the forces that today “seek to destroy … or in some way to deform” this cell that is so fundamental not only for society but for believers? The bishops analyze four: birth control, same-sex unions, divorce and cohabitation.

Their valiant denunciation of these destructive forces is followed by a rich presentation of the gift and blessing of marriage, both as a natural institution for the common good of society and as a sacrament of the Church. How many of our faithful perceive their family as a reflection of the life of the Trinity and a micro-Church, and their marriage as a vocation to perfection through love?

This image of the Wedding Feast at Cana, written by contemporary artist and iconographer Vladimir Grygorenko, depicts the major elements of the familiar story from the Gospel of John (2:1-11). At right, the head waiter tells the groom, seated beside the bride, that the good wine has been kept until last. The second man on the right represents the wedding guests, who do not understand the meaning of what has transpired. In the foreground, the server pours the water at Christ’s command, and at left, Mary converses with Christ.  conversation shows forth Christ’s desire to help the married couple at Mary’s request, and it is central to the meaning of the piece.

Photographer:

This image of the Wedding Feast at Cana, written by contemporary artist and iconographer Vladimir Grygorenko, depicts the major elements of the familiar story from the Gospel of John (2:1-11). At right, the head waiter tells the groom, seated beside the bride, that the good wine has been kept until last. The second man on the right represents the wedding guests, who do not understand the meaning of what has transpired. In the foreground, the server pours the water at Christ’s command, and at left, Mary converses with Christ. conversation shows forth Christ’s desire to help the married couple at Mary’s request, and it is central to the meaning of the piece.

This great endeavor at the national level should not surprise us, as the Archdiocese of Miami, throughout its 50 years of existence, has given great priority to the defense and enrichment of marriage and the family through its marriage preparation programs and its celebration of spousal fidelity with the annual jubilee Masses. Our lay movements also have provided a great complement of vitality and renewal.

For those who wish to learn more, I invite you to visit the website of our Family Enrichment Center: www.miamicatholicfamily.org. On this site, you will find links to the various movements that are dedicated to the spiritual enrichment of our families: Christian Family Movement /Movimiento Familiar Cristiano, Impactos, Worldwide Marriage Encounter, Encuentros Familiares, Camino del Matrimonio, Matrimonios 2000, the Covenant Experience, Agape (for those who are divorced) and Amor en el Principio (Love in the Beginning, specifically for teens who are beginning to date), etc. To these movements we also could add Matrimonios en Victoria /Marriages in Victory and Couples for Christ, also dedicated to this sublime goal.

I would like to recommend that you read and meditate on the Letter to Families (February 1994) and the apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, both written by the venerable Pope John Paul II. Finally, go to the website that has so many good resources for married life: www.foryourmarriage.org.

Comments from readers

Marta Vargas - 09/26/2010 11:14 PM
Thank you Bishop Estevez for this wonderful post and thanks to the USCCB for its wisdom in highlighting the sacrament of marriage this year as part of Catechetical Sunday, and in it offering us an important reminder of how interconnected adult and youth catechesis are in the larger scheme to build up a strong Church and true civilization of love through stronger families. Marriage is such a doorway to grace, a special opportunity to draw in (or back in ) couples who may have may have discontinued their active involvement or formation years back or simply been away from the Church.

Brother Richard thank you for sharing your concerns, a concern we share as we pray and seek ways to address, one through our (currently under development) community building initiative 'Serving Families As Family' , and the other by reaching out to our Community at large in particular need of couples who might feel called to help build stronger families as English and Spanish facilitators for marriage preparation Sacramentality days a program based on the teachings of John Paul II in the Theology of the Body designed to, in union with the existing marriage preparation programs, enrich couples' preparation experience.

Serving Families As Family is simply the vision of assisting in seeing all ministries and movements who support marriages and families truly united so we can, in a collaborative spirit, achieve more together by keeping connected, openly communicating, synchronizing event calendars, sharing ideas and resources.

Those interested in learning more about 'Serving Families As Family' or volunteer opportunities as part of our Sacramentality Day marriage prep teams may contact us at joyfilledmarriage@gmail.com or mvargas@theadom.org

Additionally, would like to invite all to join our facebook page "Archdiocese of Miami Family Life Ministry". We are also on twitter as "miamifamilylife". You are also welcome to take a sneak peek at the following pages currently under construction which once up and running will be linked to our main portal www.miamicatholicfamily.org : http://miamicatholicfamily-marriageprep.webs.com/
http://friendsofmiamifamilylife.webs.com/

Thanks again, Bishop Estevez, for this wonderful and inspiring blog, and blessings to all as we all work together doing our part, none too small, to bless and support marriages and families in South Florida!
Br. Richard DeMaria - 09/21/2010 02:37 PM
Hello, Bishop Estevez, What a masterful summary of a long tradition of efforts on the part of the Pope, the bishops of the United States adn of our own diocese to support the institution of marriage and those who are called to that vocation. I have long been concerned that The Family Enrichment Center is responsible for so many good initiatives with so few resources.
Lizette M. Lantigua - 09/21/2010 01:58 PM
Thank you Bishop Estevez for highlighting these important ministries. I have participated in many of them and find them essential for couples to strengthen their marriage and family life. We should never be to busy to attend these events or wait until we may have problems. It's important to be preventive just like we attend business seminars or medical conferences to grow in knowledge. Currently many parishes are offering one day marriage retreats. This is perfect for couples with children. We just started this ministry at St. Mark Catholic Church in Broward. We hold two a year- one in English and another in Spanish. If anyone is interested please call our parish. Thanks!
Maria Jose Mitsoulis - 09/21/2010 08:58 AM
Thank you Bishop Estevez for your beautiful blog. There is so much information and formation for couples that is amazing. In the domestic church is where we learn to share with one another, forgive one another, serve and pray. It is a challenging task. We need God's grace and the support of those around us to give a good example to our children. Thank you again for this reflection.
Carlota E. Morales, Ed. D. - 09/20/2010 11:06 AM
Dear Bishop,
As always, your blog contains such inportant information that needs time for it to be meditated. As a Catholic school principal, I know the value of marriage as it is the home, as you and Bishop Roman always say, that is so essential for the well being of society and thus, of our children. May you continue to educate us as you pursue your ministry. It is up to all of us to make a better and more sanctifying society.
In faith, hope and charity,
Carlota E. Morales, Ed. D.
Principal
Sts. Peter and Paul Catholic School

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