Marriage & Family

Beloved in the Lord, in today’s Epistle to the Galatians, it speaks over and over about the ‘Promise.’ This Promise, which was foretold to Abraham and the prophets of old. This ‘Promise,’ is Jesus Christ. Christ has fulfilled the promise of old because he has come to save his Church.
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St. Paul will say in Ephesians 5, that the relationship of Christ to his Church is displayed in the relationship of husband to wife. They make promises to each other. ‘I promise to be true to you in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, I will love you and honor you all the days of my life.’
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This promise then, is suppose to reflect the great Promise of Our Lord: that his love will never cease; we may be unfaithful to him, but he will never be unfaithful to us. And so that same St. Paul calls marriage a ‘great mystery,’ because it is a sign of Christ’s love for his Church.
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There is a lot of talk about the upcoming Synod on the family, and the World Meeting of Families in Philadelphia. And so I thought we could speak a bit today, about marriage and the family.
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Marriage has been called a ‘social sacrament,’ because this sacrament is not just for the couple, but for the whole community. 
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I am so happy that in our parish we have a number of new families who are just glowing, full of joy at their new children that are coming along one after the other. It is a real blessing for us all.
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It is true that some couples find that they are not able to have any biological children, but we often see that God is making their marriage fruitful in other ways; some of our best aunts or uncles, to whom we are very close, could not have children of their own.
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Family is the foundation of society. If family is happy, stable, and a place where children learn good habits, society will thrive. The Christian home should be a place of peace, happiness, and real affection. Yes, trouble and friction can arise, but if Jesus is the center of our home, every difficulty can be overcome.
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I know that after children are grown and out of the house, husbands and wives sometimes struggle with their relationship. Why is this? It is because we are at our best when we are thinking of others; children in the house force us to think of others – after all, little ones have many needs!
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But whether our children are little or are grown, they are helped most by their parents, if their parents love each other. ‘Love’ does not just mean feeling good, when everything is fine. Love is really revealed during the little trials that happen. A woman sighs in love over her handsome, witty husband; but when he is unhappy or angry because of something – or when he is sick and grumpy – or smelly! – she cares for him in patience. That is true love.
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If the promise of marriage is to reflect the Promise of Christ, marital love and intimacy should be kept pure, without any lust. Some people take delight in sinning together, but this ruins their friendship; they start to see each other as accomplices, and this situation is hard to heal. The love that flourishes is a wholesome love.
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Holy Scripture says: ‘Love is patient and kind. Love does not envy; it is not proud. It is not arrogant and does not insist on it’s own way. Love is not resentful and does not keep a record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil.
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So spouses should lead each other on the path of goodness, because sometimes one or the other is weak. In this way, marriage will be a blessing, not a curse.
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Of course there are always some quarrels. St. Josemaria says never argue in front of your children; children notice everything, it makes them form judgments. They think: ‘Mommy is bad or Daddy is bad.’ Don’t make them suffer. ‘Be patient, he says, and later you can argue, once the child is asleep, but just a little, because you might not be in the right!
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A man must never view his wife as 2nd class, holy scripture says that he must be ready to sacrifice himself for her, like Jesus did for us. And the woman must never hen-peck or be overbearing; St. Paul says ‘wives, be subordinate to your husbands.’ It is poison to a marriage for the woman to be controlling, or for the man to be tyrannical.
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Parents don’t bring their children into the world in the way animals do. Parents know that their children have souls and that the most important thing is that they be Christian children, who love God and will one day reach heaven. This work of guiding a child to be Godly, is assisted by brothers and sisters, aunts or uncles, grandparents, and others. But it is parents’ responsibility to teach their children to pray and to help them learn their catechism. This does not mean only sending them to Catechism class, it means sitting down with them: ‘Let’s see your book. What have you learned today? ‘Who is this? ‘It’s Jesus.’ Tell me what he did for us. ‘Do you know the commandments? Are they written here?
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But we should also speak on difficult subjects with our teens. They should learn from us about the origin of life, about the beautiful meaning of sexuality and it’s place only within marriage. Young people can feel anxiety as they go through changes in their bodies, parents should speak and listen to their children. Do not let the public schools form our children with indecent or false ideas.
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Yes, children sometimes become rebellious. But we should really take time to listen to them. Sometimes they are at least partly right. They can even get caught up with influences from school or the university, and seem to lose their faith. I know a mother who is sad because her son does not go to Church anymore. But I told her, be patient and pray for him. God will bring him back in time.
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About this, I quote again St. Josemaria : ‘Speak calmly and sincerely with your child, heart to heart. Not with all of them together, but one by one. You know each of them well, so each must be treated in a different way. Talk and be friends with them; they will understand you very well because the same faith that you have, still beats in their hearts; perhaps on top they are carrying a heap of filth that has been thrown on them by someone. Let them go to confession and you’ll see how well things go.’
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We must keep our families pure and good; we pray for our spouse and our children, entrusting them to the Blessed Virgin. Mary, pray for our families, that regardless of the turmoil of the world, our homes will always be safe places of faith and joy.

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[Entrusted to the prayers of St. Augustine]

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