Marriage is a tremendously beautiful Christian vocation meant to reflect that eternal and infinite faithfulness that Christ has for His Church (Ephesians 5:32). It is also a vocation, like every vocation, made up of the concrete ups and downs, joys and struggles of every-day life. In order to reach the goal of profound Christian witness in marriage, especially in today’s cultural context, young people need to prepare seriously before entering this call, so that they can live its gifts and challenges faithfully.
If we think of the wisdom of the Church’s practice, we notice that all those moments that introduce us into a vocation are accompanied by formation in the Church’s community. The Sacrament of Baptism is either followed (for children) or preceded (for adults) by serious catechesis; the Sacrament of Holy Orders is only received after many years of training. Those entering consecrated life only pronounce their vows after a special time of formation called “novitiate.” Why should marriage be any different?
Each vocation is a special way of living friendship with Christ. In marriage this friendship shines forth in the life-long commitment between one man and one woman, open to new life in children. Marriage is lived in the community of the new family itself and in the wider community of the Church, a kind of family of families. Every married path is unique, yet they all depend on the virtue of love to grow in that generosity, faithfulness, and patience that make every-day Christian witness possible.
Especially within a cultural context that promotes messages contrary to God’s plan for marriage, let us all help young people prepare to embrace faithfully the deep beauty and adventure of this Christian calling!
Fr. Andrij Hlabse, S.J.
Pope’s Worldwide Prayer Network (United States)