Dear Friends and Parishioners of Saint Patrick,
This weekend we celebrate World Marriage Day (WMD). It is celebrated on the second Sunday each February. The main purpose of WMD is to emphasize the beauty of marriage and to honor husbands and wives for their faithfulness and sacrifices. It highlights for us Catholics the sacramental nature of marriage as a union recognized by Christ.
Like any Christian vocation, married individuals can often struggle with their commitment as they experience sacrifice and struggles. Therefore, this special occasion offers the entire Church an opportunity to offer gratitude for their witness but invites us to pray for husbands and wives as they persevere in their vocation. I take this opportunity to offer my personal thanks for their powerful witness and commitment as they encounter the grace, blessings, and challenges.
A common impression among members of the Christian community is that occasions like World Marriage Day idealize the sacrament and may overlook the situations of those who have not had successful marriages or who endure dysfunctional circumstances. It may also cause pain and deepen resentment for those who cannot access Christian marriage for a number of reasons. The conclusion, therefore, would be to simply avoid the occasion as it may exclude or deepen the wounds of members.
I wish to offer a different approach. I propose that occasions such as this serves as an invitation for those who feel the pain of a broken marriage or who may feel excluded to share their experiences and explore ways to address – or even remedy – their pain or sense of alienation. Perhaps it is time to explore possibilities for an annulment or to discuss having their relationship become a sacrament. Perhaps this is a time for young single parishioners to further educate what is needed for one’s heart to be ready for Christian marriage (even before they are formally engaged). And perhaps this is the time for spouses who privately struggle to reach for pastoral care by inviting clergy and other pastoral ministers to accompany them in their suffering.
An occasion such as World Marriage Day is not merely a “pat on the back” but an opportunity to recognize those who live this vocation and to invoke God’s blessing upon every one of our married sisters and brothers.
Congratulations and heartfelt thanks to our married couples for your ongoing witness and be assured of our prayers as you invite Christ daily into your sacramental union. So, raising a glass from the newly created wine of Cana, here’s to you!
In Christ Our Bridegroom,