Marriage however remains the usual human vocation, which is embraced by the great majority of the people of God. It is in the family where living stones are formed for that spiritual house spoken of by the Apostle Peter (cf. 1 Pet 2:5)." - Pope John Paul II
"So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him, male and female He created them. And God blessed them and God said to them, 'Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it.'" - Genesis 1:27-28
The majority of men and women are called by God to the vocation of marriage. The Pope has spoken of families as the basic unit of society, so marriage is an especially sacred vocation. Strong, holy families come from strong, holy marriages. In this way our world can be evangelized "from the ground up," starting with individual homes where Christ is honored and the Catholic faith is loved, taught, and lived
. The family is also the place where religious vocations are fostered, so that Catholic marriages have the privilege of providing the Church with priests and nuns, as well as with future holy mothers and fathers, or dedicated singles.
Jesus Himself has a special love for holy, pure marriages: it was at the wedding at Cana where He performed His first miracle. In fact, He even instituted marriage as a sacrament of the Church in the Sacrament of Matrimony. Through this sacrament, the married couple receives special graces to live out their difficult commitment to love one another for life.
Marriage is not only about romance. It is a perpetual commitment in which the husband and wife give themselves to each other, making a solemn vow to love and respect each other "until death do us part." Broken marriages are a sad witness to the low value which our society places on the holy, self-sacrificing love between a husband and wife. When asked about allowing divorce, Jesus told the Pharisees, "From the beginning it was not so." (Matt. 19:8) Married life is not always easy, and both spouses have to constantly sacrifice their own pleasure and comfort for the good of the whole family. St. Francis de Sales calls the state of marriage "a perpetual exercise of mortification."
Yet the state of marriage, lived holily with the help of God's grace in the sacrament of Matrimony, is a particularly blessed and grace-filled state, for in it the husband and wife co-operate in God's creation of new human beings and raise "souls who may bless and praise Him for all eternity." (St. Francis de Sales) What an honour to raise the next generation of the Church's saints!
Are you discerning marriage? Visit the Archdiocesan Office for Marriage and Family Life for information on Marriage Preparation and the many resources available to you as you make this important life decision!