Didn't preach this week because I was traveling but here is what I wrote in my bulletin this Sunday about the just concluded Extraordinary Synod on the Family and a topic that no one is talking about but is of paramount importance:
This past week, Pope Francis, along with cardinals, bishops, and lay people from around the world, concluded the first part of the Extraordinary Synod on the Family. Our Holy Father is very aware of what we already know: that the family is the cornerstone of society and if it fails then society fails. As the Synod opened, the Pope said: “The family continues to be the unparalleled school of humanity, an indispensable contribution to a society of justice and solidarity” (Oct. 5, 2014).
One of the main topics that the secular media has focused on is the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Obviously, what we believe about this sacred union is not what society at large believes about marriage. The Synod participants sought to strengthen Christian marriage in an effort to strengthen the Christian family. In order for this to happen, solid preparation for the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony is paramount. In the summary of the 8th general congregation that took place on October 10th, which is a summary of what was discussed during that particular meeting, the Vatican Press Office released this statement:
The Assembly reiterated the importance of adequate preparation for marriage, as its celebration seems to be increasingly reduced to the social and legal status, rather than a religious and spiritual bond. The preparatory course, it was noted, is often perceived by couples as an imposition, a task to complete without conviction, and as a result it is too brief. Since marriage is a vocation for life, preparation for it should be long and detailed, as in the case of preparation for religious life. It was also shown that, among couples, there is a frequent lack of awareness of the sacramental value of the marriage bond, so much so that the celebration of the marriage rite, it was said, is not automatically the celebration of the marriage sacrament.
I can testify to the lack of preparation and disinterest that some couples show when requesting to receive this Sacrament of Holy Matrimony, as can my brother priests and deacons here at Immaculate. While none of the discussions held so far in the Synod are final until the Pope publishes its conclusions in an Apostolic Exhortation late next year or in early 2016, what the statement above proves is that our bishops are very aware that we need to do more to prepare young couples for Holy Matrimony to build stronger Christian families. Couples need to see this sacrament and its preparation for it as a gift and not an imposition. Couples need to have the conviction that marriage is a vocation and not merely a choice of a spouse. They need to see their spouse as someone who God himself chose for them to enrich their life and to help them achieve salvation. I always say that the stronger our marriages, the stronger our families because the love that a married couple shares, which is rooted in Jesus Christ, will be transmitted to their children creating a family modeled after the Holy Family.
As we celebrate World Mission Sunday today, may we make it the mission of this parish to support our families who are being fragmented by a secular world. May we support families who for whatever reason only have one parent or guardian, but above all, may we embrace everyone who is part of God’s family: the body of Christ. Please continue to pray for our bishops as they continue to deliberate the results of this Synod, which will conclude next year, and continue to pray for all our families in our parish so that we may be shining examples to the world of the love of Jesus Christ.