The precious value of marriage and of the family are due to the fact that they are willed by God in the very act of creation and are interiorly ordained to fulfillment in Christ and have need of His graces in order to be healed from the wounds of sin. At this time in history the family is the object of numerous forces that seek to destroy it or in some way to deform it.
The well-being of society and her own good are intimately tied to thegood of the family.
The situation of the family in the world today is an interplay of light and darkness. The light which shines in families life today is due to the salvation of Christ
operating in them. We see signs of this light in a lively awareness of personal freedom, greater attention to the quality of interpersonal relationships in marriage, promotion of women’s dignity, attention paid to responsible procreation and education of children, awareness for the development of interfamily relationships, mutual spiritual and materialsupport, and the rediscovery of the mission of the family as the domestic church and its role in working toward a more just society.
The darkness in family life today results from man’s refusal of God’s love. Signs of this darkness are a false sense of independence of spouses from each other, serious
misconceptions regarding the relationship of authority between parents and children, difficulties in transmission of values, growing number of divorces, the scourge of abortion, sterilization, the appearance of a truly contraceptive mentality, the spread of divorce and remarriage, acceptance of a purely civil marriage by the baptized who are called to be married in the Lord, the sacrament of marriage celebrated without faith and the rejection of moral norms that promote the human and Christian exercise of sexuality in marriage.
The root of these negative phenomena is the corruption of the idea of freedom. Freedom is the capacity for realizing the truth of God’s plan for marriage and the family. It is not an autonomous power of self-affirmation for one’s own selfish well-being. This interplay of light and darkness shows that history is not simply a fixed progression toward what is better, but rather an event in freedom. By our own decisions we choose our side in the war between light and darkness, in the conflict of two loves: (1) the love of God to the point of disregarding self (2) the love of self to the point of disregarding God.
In the midst of this war between light and darkness, God’s plan for marriage must enlighten the consciences of husbands and wives and guide the use of their freedom as they seek to live their vocation of marriage and family.
God created man in His own image and likeness (Gen. 1:26-27). God is love. (1 Jn. 4:8). In Himself God lives a mystery of profound personal loving communion and has inscribed in human nature the vocation of love and communion. Love is therefore the fundamental and innate vocation of every human being.
This vocation of love directs man’s use of sexuality such that it is exercised only in the context of the love by which a man and a woman commit themselves totally to one another until death. If the person were to withhold something or reserve the possibility of deciding otherwise in the future, by this very fact he or she would not be giving totally. This total self-giving must also shape the living out of responsible fertility such that a contraceptive selfishness, which rejects total self-giving by the exclusion of the woman’s fertility and God’s gift of life, does not mar the marriage covenant.
The marital bond of love is the symbol of God’s covenant of love with His people. The ever faithful love of God is put forward as the model of the relations of faithful love which should exist between spouses.
Jesus, the Bridegroom of the Church, enables man to realize the original truth of marriage in its entirety. Jesus reveals this truth in its fullness by His assuming a human nature
and laying down His life on the cross. In the sacrifice of the cross there is entirely revealed that plan which God has imprinted on the humanity of man and woman since their creation. The marriage of baptized persons thus become a real symbol of that new and eternal covenant sanctioned in the blood of Christ.
The Spirit which the Lord pours fourth gives a new heart, and renders man and woman capable of loving one another as Christ has loved us. Spouses, through their conjugal love,
participate in and live the charity of Christ who gave Himself on the cross. How can I ever express the happiness of the marriage that is joined together by the church, strengthened
by an offering, sealed by a blessing, announced by angels and ratified by the Father?!!! How wonderful the bond between two believers, with a single hope, a single desire, a single
observance, a single service! They are both brethren and both fellow servants; there is no separation between them in spirit or flesh. In fact they are truly two in one flesh, and where the flesh is one, one is the spirit (Tertullian, Ad Uxorem, II, VIII, 6-8: CCL, I, 393).
By virtue of the sacramentality of marriage, spouses are bound to one another in the most profoundly indissoluble manner. They belong to one another. Marriage participates in Christ’s life uniquely because conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter — appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and
affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, the unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it
demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility (cf. Humanae Vitae, 9).
In the face of all the forces that seek to destroy the family today, the Church calls us, through the virtues of faith, hope and charity, to enter into the vortex of combat between the light of Christ and the darkness of evil, and apply the life-giving Christian principles to practical daily living in our homes, excluding contraception, sterilization, adultery, divorce, and heroically promoting personal and familial prayer and living a morality which bears fruit in integrity and peace. We take the Holy Family as a model for us and invite Jesus, Mary and Joseph to fight with us on the battle ground of our homes.