Monday, February 8, 2021
Fr. Matthew Gomez - The Archdiocese of Miami
You are reading this correctly. The vocations director is writing a blog as the Church is celebrating National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day. I have my reasons for doing this, but as Pope St. John Paul II writes in Familiaris Consortio more eloquently that I can, “Love is the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being” (no. 11).
Because our common vocation is to love, and to be saints, that is to make it to heaven, the call to the sacrament of Holy Matrimony is as much a vocation as the call to the consecrated religious life, diaconate, or priesthood. The sacrament of Holy Matrimony is a vocation to serve. It is a call where man and woman “leave father and mother and (are) united ... and the two shall become one flesh” (Matthew 19:5).
The man and the woman are at the service of each other. They are to love each other with such profundity “as Christ loved the church and handed Himself over for her to sanctify her, cleansing her by the bath of water with the word, that he might present to himself the church in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:25-27). No pressure, right?
In my time in seminary, a priest who gave us a retreat said that the world did not have a vocations problem; rather, the world has a commitment problem. I don’t need to cite the research about how many marriages end in divorce or how many couples are cohabitating before entering the sacred bond, or why so many young people postpone getting married. We have seen the numbers. We know the many people in our communities, our families, who have been affected by this reality.
The question is how to live the vocation of Holy Matrimony each day of your life. This will obviously look differently for every couple, for every family. This week is an opportunity to recommit ourselves to living the vocation to which God has called us.
I am not here to give you 10 easy steps on how to make your marriage better — that is for the grocery store magazine stands. I will propose two ways to make sure you are living the vocation to marriage. Obviously these two suggestions are in addition to what we should all be doing: weekly Mass, daily prayer and rosary, regular confession, frequent adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, etc.
The first suggestion is date night. “But Father, I am super busy and I get home from work super late and I am super tired.”
Your life is not busy enough for you to not spend a night with your spouse. Get creative! Go for a walk around the neighborhood. Have a picnic in your backyard. Turn off the TVs and send your kids to their grandparents’ house and have a night alone in your home.
“But Father, you don’t understand. My kids are my world, they are the center of our lives and they have dance class, and soccer, and piano, and ...”
Your kids aren’t more important than your spouse. They are the fruit of the love you both publicly expressed on the day of your wedding. Trust me, as a son, your kids will understand. The question is: How are we investing our time with our beloved?
The second suggestion comes from the Vatican. In his Easter Vigil homily from 2014, Pope Francis reminded us all of the need “to go to Galilee.” In his homily, the Holy Father notes the angel’s interaction with Mary Magdalene on Easter morning. The angel says, “Tell His disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and he is going before you to Galilee, there you will see Him’” (Matthew 28:7). It was at Galilee where Jesus first called his disciples to be Apostles. Pope Francis draws from that moment that it was there the Apostles would understand and find the courage, zeal, and peace they would need to overcome their fear after the events of Good Friday.
“To go to Galilee” means something beautiful. It means rediscovering our baptism as a living fountainhead, drawing new energy from the sources of our faith and our Christian experience.
To return to Galilee means above all to return to that blazing light with which God’s grace touched me at the start of the journey. From that flame I can light a fire for today and every day, and bring heat and light to my brothers and sisters. That flame ignites a humble joy, a joy which sorrow and distress cannot dismay, a good, gentle joy.
My brothers and sisters, return to the Galilee of your wedding day. Do it often, not just on your anniversary. Look at pictures. Watch the video. Relive the moment that began the fount of grace in your marriage. Renew, on your own, the promises you made to each other on that special day every day of your life.
Our whole world will change when we begin living our vocations day in and day out.
The real reason I wanted to write this blog is because we know that from good families come good families. From good families come good religious sisters. From good families come good priests.
The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate, out of Georgetown University in Washington D.C., surveys the ordination class every year. They found that in the 2020 ordination class almost nine in ten responding ordinands (85%) report that both their parents were Catholic when they were children. In 2019, three in four responding ordinands (77%). In 2018, four in five responding ordinands (83%). In 2017, four in five responding ordinands (80%).
I think four examples are enough to drive home the point that as the vocations director, I want marriages not only to succeed but to thrive.
I pray that men and women will “leave father and mother” to respond generously and courageously to whatever the Lord is calling them. Whether that be family life, consecrated life, or priesthood, the call begins in the family; and the family begins with the sacrament of matrimony.
May this week be a time of blessing and renewal for your marriage, and may the Holy Family of Nazareth intercede for your family as you continue to do God’s will.