Blog # 410 Marriage
Growing up as a boy I never even imagined we would ever have in the US the situation we face today with regard to the proportion of marriages that end up in divorce, the number of children who grow up in single parent homes, the number of runaway children on the streets of our large cities, the bias of the media, nor the significant political and juridical power that has been attained by groups advocating same-sex marriage.
Among the letters I have received over the past several years from relatives and friends of many years scattered across the country there have been several and a growing proportion telling me of a divorce or a runaway child in the family. The stories that come reveal a deep sorrow and a significant challenge not only to the person writing to me, but both to myself in giving a response and also to the Church and our nation. A special synod called by Pope Francis in Rome just concluded on the subject of the Family and a sequence to it will be held next year.
Sometimes when I receive letters from troubled couples I think it must be hard to be married. Other letters have come from wonderfully happy couples and I wonder just what makes the difference. As a priest I tend to get caught in the middle, a friend to both sides in a divorce case and holding on to hope until the end.
I see parallels with married life in my own experience of priesthood. At times and in particular in this particular moment of history it can be a difficult and lonesome road. Through my faith in the Sacrament of Holy Orders I am confidently aware of being called to accept and live out the possibility of being happy as a celibate priest. I see it as a privilege. Along with the privilege
goes a responsibility to care for it, and to protect it from danger distortion or loss. To be able to offer Mass each day, with the same words and the same motions repeated over and over through the years in a reverent and meaningful way, I must choose to pray at other times outside of the time I offer Mass, and spend time alone with God, renewing my faith and love for Him.
So, I think it is, for married folks and families. Words and experiences that may have thrilled them in the beginning of their love may tend to grow commonplace and stale after many repetitions through the years. True love is always free and therefore chosen. If a couple does not find themselves renewing their love by choosing it over and over again, even daily I would think, then their love and their marriage is in danger of losing its luster, its value for them, its ability to call them successfully away from temptation, and support them in times of difficulty and challenge.
Doing this or not doing this it seems to me constitutes a large portion of the difference between a happy priesthood and an unhappy one, and between a happy marriage and an unhappy one. In our prayers let's remember not only your own individual marriage and family, but families throughout the world, and for priests, Religious Brothers, and for Religious Sisters who are in need of the same graces that produce a happy marriage .