February 15, 2019


Faith must play role in happy and holy marriages

“Almighty and eternal God, you blessed the union of married couples so that they might reflect the union of Christ with 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.”

Known as a “Prayer for Married Couples,” the above petition found at foryourmarriage.org was among the resources provided by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) for National Marriage Week celebrated on Feb. 7-14.

It is a prayer those who are married would be wise to recite not only on special occasions like wedding anniversaries but also on World Marriage Day, which we marked on Feb. 10 this year. For those looking ahead, that special day is celebrated on the second Sunday during February.

We encourage husbands and wives to say the above prayer together as often as possible. It could also plant a powerful seed to share its words together in front of your children to show them how serious you and your spouse take this lifelong commitment.

National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day offered us the opportunity to focus on “building a culture of life and love that begins with promoting and defending marriage and the family,” noted Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia, who serves as the chairman of the Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth of the USCCB.

Archbishop Chaput also hoped these observances celebrating marriage would “foster an ever-deeper appreciation for the gift of marriage and the blessings of family life.”

On pages 7-10 of this week’s issue of The Criterion, you will find our annual spring Marriage Supplement where, among other things, we highlight couples who are being married or have been recently married in the Catholic Church. We offer special prayers for the 38 couples featured and other couples who have pledged their love to each other. We pray that God is the third partner in their matrimony, and that faith is a cornerstone of their lives together as well.

While our society, with the backing of the courts, has legally redefined marriage, our faith teaches us that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

“God’s image is the married couple, a man and a woman, together,” Pope Francis said. “Not just the man. Not just the woman. No, both of them. That’s God’s image.”

In their 2009 pastoral letter titled “Marriage: Love and Life in the Divine Plan,” the U.S. bishops noted, “The Church has taught through the ages that marriage is an exclusive relationship between one man and one woman” (page 7).

And St. John Paul II shared with us, “Marriage is an act of will that signifies and involves a mutual gift, which unites the spouses and binds them to their eventual souls, with whom they make up a sole family—a domestic Church.”

Beyond our faith community, happy and holy marriages share a much-needed example for society in the United States, which is seeing close to 50 percent of marriages end in divorce.

“Christian marriage is that sacrament which builds up the community of the Church and of society,” Pope Francis noted. “Marriage has been inscribed in creation’s design by God, and, by his grace, countless Christian men and women have lived married life fully.”

In effect, the pope is reminding us that “living happily ever after” is still a realistic goal—if we are 100 percent committed to loving our spouses … “for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”

Let us pray for married couples, that they receive the graces to live out their vocations according to God’s plan. And just as important, let us pray that faith is an integral part of their marriage.

—Mike Krokos

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