Monday, September 20, 2010
Bishop Felipe Estevez
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 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.