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Vocation to married life

English Spanish Fr. Matthew Gomez Profile

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).

National Marriage Week USA is celebrated this month, Feb. 7-14. For more information and resources, go to foryourmarriage.org.

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National Marriage Week USA is celebrated this month, Feb. 7-14. For more information and resources, go to foryourmarriage.org.

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.

Fr. Matthew Gomez
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Comments from readers

Irene Tomonto - 02/09/2021 08:42 AM
Bravo Fr. Matthew! You are so right. May the Lord continue to bless your ministry to marriage, family and vocations.
Homero y Daisy - 02/08/2021 03:33 PM
Excelente articulo. Renueva nuestro permanente "ir a Galilea". Enaltece a la familia como vocación de amor y centro de toda sociedad . Con Jesús, José y María, se puede.
Jose Ignacio Jimenez - 02/08/2021 01:35 PM
Thank you Father. Excellent post. I went back to look at my wedding pictures, and I gotta say, I wasn't hard to look at. I miss my hair. Adding to your stats: Catholics divorce less often (28%) "...the research suggests that this figure compares favorably with the 40% divorce rate for those with no religious affiliation, 39% for Protestants and 35% for those of other religious faiths." From the same article: "Among mixed marriages, Catholics who marry Protestants or non-religious spouses have a divorce rate of 49% and 48% respectively. Catholics who marry someone of an “other” non-Protestant religion, such as Judaism, have a 35% rate, while Catholics who marry Catholics have a 27% divorce rate." Source: https://www.ncregister.com/news/divorce-statistics-indicate-catholic-couples-are-less-likely-to-break-up From a Pew Research study: "Catholics had one of the lowest incidences of divorce, with 19 percent having been divorced out of 4,752 interviewed. The Gospel Coalition noted there is a somewhat significant difference between those who are actively practicing Catholics and those who consider themselves nominally Catholic. The coalition found nominal Catholics are 5 percent less likely to divorce than non-religious persons, while Catholics who are actively practicing in their parishes are 31 percent less likely to get divorced than non-religious persons." Source: https://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Divorce_Statistics_by_Religion A 1998 survey by the Georgia Family Council: couples who pray together weekly, only 7 percent had seriously considered divorce, vs. 65 percent of those who never prayed together. I heard a sermon where the priest referenced a study indicating divorce rates in Catholic families where the husband / father takes a leadership role in the practice of the faith, the divorce rate plummets to low single digits. So single Catholic women should focus on good Catholic men. Problem solved.
Valli Leonr - 02/08/2021 09:38 AM
What a gift God has given you, dear Father, in your recognition and sharing of this amazing sacrament of Marriage! My husband and I are going on 53 years, and it is only by the grace and the move of the Holy Spirit that we can say ”Alleluia” for every joy, trial, test and triumph over the enemy who hates marriage, forgiveness and love that never fails. Truly Jesus Christ is the cement and the glue that keeps couples together and that allows families to thrive and grow in faith, hope and love—FOREVER!!! ✝️⚓️💜
Thomas Hanlon - 02/08/2021 09:14 AM
Great blog Father. Judy and I will be married 63 years on June 7 of this year. Deacon Tom Hanlon
Patricia Solenski - 02/08/2021 09:13 AM
Thank you for a beautiful reminder to married couples. So often the husband and wife lose sight of the love and joy they experienced in their courtship and wedding day. They let the honeymoon phase fade away and let the demands of the world creep in. Your reflection brings awareness that is so needed not only now but also in the future. As a church, we need to consistently support and hold in esteem the vocation of married life. We need to foster ways to be present to the married couples as they journey through their lives. We need to be creative.
Susy Del Riego - 02/08/2021 08:18 AM
So well said, may it be so!

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