Skeptics often dismiss Catholic doctrine on marriage, claiming celibates have little to offer on that score. But the truth is that the Church draws upon the wisdom of its married members to affirm teaching that continues to be a treasure. We Catholics should pay attention and find ways to re-propose our time-tested ideas to the world, which is hungry for truth, especially when it comes to human relationships.
Pope Francis is setting the course. In his apostolic exhortation, Joy of the Gospel, the pope says the family is experiencing “a profound cultural crisis.” The bonds that hold families together have weakened, he warned, alarmed because the family is “where we learn to live with others despite our differences and to belong to one another.”
The pope urges ministers of the Church to emphasize that a relationship with God demands a healing communion with others.
Marriage is about more than just the couple. You would think that modern people, who rightly see the environment as a web in which what happens in one place affects the others, would realize that couples are not islands unto themselves.
Couples impact the world by maintaining or shattering fidelity, giving freely of themselves to the world or curling in on themselves, loving tenderly or carrying on in violence. Couples impact their children and everyone else who is watching.
Our Church has an answer. The National Directory on Catechesis puts it well: Catholic teaching on marriage acknowledges that it is in both the love and struggles of marriage that a couple attains the holiness of their vocation.
The Christian message — that difficulty and service is sometimes the path to new life — is sorely needed in a world where couples seem constantly to be looking around for more gratification.