Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Marriage: The Endangered Vocation

It's been a while since I blogged about religion or Catholicism in the news. I started out blogging mostly on those topics, then sort of switched to a "mommy blogger". Today I return to religion, drawing attention to a topic that we'll be hearing so much on, especially as we near the next election.

I was reading an article from Catholic Online which identified the vocation of marriage as one in "crisis". At first sound it may be easy to roll our eyes at this. But in reality, it is something to give our attention to, something to pray for. I could go on and site numerous resources and studies proving how a two-parent family is best for children. I could go on with facts on how marriage affects a person on an entirely different level than just two people simply "living together". I suspect, though, that most of you reading this already share similar beliefs.

I read in the article that, "more than a 60 percent decline in the number of marriages recorded in the archdiocese” in the last 20 years, from 12,274 in 1986 to 4,519 last year." (i.e. the Boston archdiocese).
Reading on, "Statistics across the country indicate that the number of weddings each year is declining in relation to those eligible to marry,” Bishop McDonnell said. “There is no question parishes across the country have seen the number of Catholic wedding ceremonies go down. The society in which we live does not look favorably, as once was the case, on the lifelong commitment between husband and wife.”
Reading other publications also indicates that this decline is seen not just in the Catholic Church, but that there is a large decline in the number of marriages period.

Why does this matter?
Well for one, if you are married, then you know marriage is hard work. It's a beautiful thing, but it takes effort. Sacrificial love. We need to be able to rely on prayer to help us through it, and make it work. Marriage changes constantly. Our roles change as we have children, as we change jobs, retire, and so on. It seems just as we get used to the way things are, it changes. Not that it's always a bad change, but change is stressful, be it good stress or bad. Even us married folk need to continue to pray for marriages, our own included.

It also matters because of the future. I think of my boys. They're 3 years old and 2 months old. When I was their age, you didn't hear as much about couples divorcing. You never heard about homosexuals marrying, or civil unions. In today's world, our children's world, it's on the election ballots! To say we need to pray to protect what marriage truly is can be an understatement.

Though this article emphasizes Massachusetts, it applies to our entire country. We should join them in their efforts to promote traditional marriage. "The effort to promote the traditional marriage bond between a man and a woman began eight days after the Massachusetts legislature voted to deny Massachusetts voters their right to vote on a marriage amendment."

"The promotion effort includes: the distribution of marriage prayer in each parish; the praying of the marriage prayer in weekday and Sunday liturgies in each parish each day; the encouraging parishioners to pray the prayer daily; and, the incorporation of support for traditional marriage in preaching, when appropriate, and in bulletin announcements. It will also include an educational component that will begin in parishes throughout the state in the fall. "

I'm including below the Vocation of Marriage Prayer:
Heavenly father, through the intercession of the holy family,
Help us treasure the gift of marriage that reflects the love of Christ for the church, where the self-giving love of husband and wife unites them more perfectly and cooperates in your plan for new life created in your image.
Help us support men and women in their vocation of marriage, especially in difficult times when they join their sufferings to the cross.
Help us uphold the institution of marriage in our society as the place where love is nurtured and family life begins.
Help us acknowledge that our future depends on this love and on your providential care for us. Amen.

If you are like me, then you pray for your child's future. Who knows yet what my sons' future holds for them, marriage or not. Should it be their vocation, I choose to pray for them now. And of course, we pray for our own marriage.

I'm very curious how marriage will be defined come January 2009.

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