Pastor's Corner 020914

posted Feb 12, 2014, 11:22 AM by Music Director

 This weekend we observe World Marriage Sunday.  How appropriate that this celebration coincides with St. Valentine’s Day with all its romantic overtones!  More so, how good it is for us as a faith community to honor the commitment married persons make, especially given the state of marriage today.

               The divorce rate has steadily held at around 50% the past several decades.  That means half of all marriages end in divorce, and that’s tragic.  Still, most of those who get divorced eventually remarry.  That tells us that the idea of marriage is as strong as ever.  It is something people believe in and want.

               However, as a sacrament marriage is forever.  (Think about it: once consecrated, does the Eucharist ever return to being plain bread?  Can you un-baptize yourself?)  Thus, sacramental marriage can be entered into only once.  If there is a divorce, neither party is free to contract a new marriage in the Church unless the first one is officially annulled.  The penalty for any Catholic who marries outside the Church (for this or any other reason) is exclusion from receiving Holy Communion and inability to act as a Godparent or Sponsor at Baptism and Confirmation until the marriage is convalidated before a priest or deacon and two witnesses. 

               Contrary to popular belief, an annulment is not a declaration that the marriage never existed.  It is not a judgment on the persons involved, nor has it any effect on the legitimacy of children born to the marriage. An annulment is the conclusion of a process of investigating a failed marriage.  Clear evidence must be presented to enable the Marriage Tribunal of the Church to declare that some element essential to the sacramentality of marriage was missing at the time the marriage occurred, rendering it non-sacramental.  This frees both parties to remarry in the Church.         

More, however, must be done to avoid divorce, as it can deeply hurt not only the couple involved but their families as well, especially their children.  People need to better understand and accept the responsibilities they are undertaking in their marriage vows before exchanging them. 

               One way to strengthen marriages is for couples to attend a Living In Love weekend.  For those experiencing marital problems, a Retrovaille weekend can help the couple rediscover their love and energize their commitment.  Professional marriage counseling also can help couples in trouble.  Of course, sometimes the marital relationship deteriorates so badly that divorce really is the lesser of two evils, but this should always be a last resort and avoided if at all possible. 

               So let’s celebrate marriage for the wonderful sacramental institution it is.  May God bless all married couples with increasing love and devotion that they may be what the sacrament calls them to be:  signs of God’s eternal love for and union with His people, signs of His eternal bond with all humanity. 




In His love,

Fr. Mike