The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Secretariat of Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth has set the 2020 celebration of National Marriage Week for Feb. 7-14. The theme, “Stories from the Domestic Church,” features testimonies of couples who live out the call of love within their immediate and extended families. It is part of an international event to mobilize individuals, organizations and businesses in a common purpose to promote marriage in communities, strengthen couples’ commitment, support the fundamental rights of parents to advocate for the well-being of their children, and help build a culture of life and love in our world.
During this week, the Church encourages the people of God to reflect on God’s gift of marriage to our Church, and offers the opportunity for couples to build up their marriage vocation. In God’s design, the Christian family is founded upon the covenant of marriage between husband and wife. Together with any children, they become the domestic church, where “they learn endurance and the joy of work, fraternal love, generous forgiveness, and above all, divine worship in prayer and the offering of one’s life” (CCC 1656-57).
The family is the basic foundation of society. In God’s plan every child is meant to be the fruit of his or her mother’s and father’s love for each other in the sacred bond of marriage. This is why the Church’s teaching on marriage and family is important for all of us, because each of us comes from a family and each of us is a son or a daughter.
Here are three important points in the Catechism of the Catholic Church about family: love, forgiveness and prayer. Family is a school of love where the language is the gift of self and where we learn to counter selfishness with self-giving, and rejection with acceptance. Spouses hand on and witness these to their children in a spirit of promise of a lifelong, faithful and fruitful love between husband and wife.
Sadly, many people experience the pain of broken marriages and families, reminding us that we are not perfect but sinners in need of mercy, forgiveness and healing. The Lord’s mercy is great and makes family a school of forgiveness where members learn to forgive each other, seek to love each other more fully, and teach their children a new lesson: mercy, healing and a renewed beginning.
Furthermore, God is the important foundation of marriage and family. Through prayers, we receive God’s grace. Prayer does not take away trials and difficulties but provides hope that God’s presence brings light and peace, heals brokenness and restores all things new. Father Patrick Peyton, on whom Pope Francs bestowed the title Venerable in 2017, reminds us that “the family that prays together stays together.”
We are all part of God’s family, beloved sons and daughters of God. During this year’s World Marriage Week, let us all pray and thank our heavenly Father for the gift and blessing of marriage and family. Defend, support and encourage families to pray together at home, go to Mass on Sunday, spend time together and make their home a place of love, forgiveness, hospitality and peace. May God hear our prayers that we may be able to build a culture of life and love in the world.
A Prayer for Married Couples
“Loving and faithful God,
you blessed the union of married couples
so that they might reflect the love of Christ for his Church.
Look with kindness on them.
Renew their marriage covenant, increase your love in them,
and strengthen their bond of peace so that, with their children,
they may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ, our Lord. Amen.”