For this letter, I primarily want to give you a sample of the Familiaris Consortio letters I send to couples in marriage prep. There are about 30 letters – one sent every other week. Each letter is a meditation on a snippet of Pope Saint John Paul II's Familiaris Consortio. Following this letter is the sample – for your inspiration and information.
On another note: I learned more about the background of the pavilion behind my rectory; and the new information made me realize we can't turn it into a storage shed. We will find another way to store the items I mentioned in previous letters.
On still another note: Many thanks to all those who have given to the Bishop's ACA campaign so far! I'm impressed with how quickly we are approaching our goal. I sent my donation in last week. If you haven't donated, every little bit helps, and please consider it. Thanks again!
Have a great week!
In cordibus Iesu, Mariae et Josephus,
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One of the tasks I am blessed to take on as pastor here at Saint Wendelin is that of preparing couples for the sacrament of marriage. To form my own heart and mind concerning marriage, I have meditated upon some very important Church documents concerning marriage. One of these documents is an apostolic exhortation of Pope Saint John Paul II called Familiaris Consortio (The Role of the Christian Family in the Modern World, hereafter abbreviated FC). I thought you might also benefit from this great saint's thought, if I could give synopses of this teaching. Such teaching is important because family life is very much under pressure today. Perhaps you could give some of this teaching yourself, or you might be able to confirm it wholeheartedly when you hear it. Either way, it is still helpful to see it again to let it soak deeper into our beings. Our meditation on the sacraments can never fail of further fruitfulness. So here goes with the debut of Familiaris Consortio....
In a particular way the Church addresses the young, who are beginning their journey towards marriage and family life, for the purpose of presenting them with new horizons, helping them to discover the beauty and grandeur of the vocation to love and the service of life (FC 1).
Notice here the tremendous adjectives the Holy Father uses to describe marriage. Marriage has a “beauty” and a “grandeur” to it. Further, it is a “vocation to love”. It is a call to lay down one’s life for others as did Christ. I believe young couples are able to see something very real of the beauty of marriage. They are filled with a certain experience of excitement because of the the life they envision together. They can see the grandeur and beauty. Their vision together is the cause of such excitement. The couple anticipates something beautiful.
Beauty deepens, however, as the love deepens. Love, as you know, becomes very concrete in the everyday living of the sacrament. Couples do deeds of kindness for one another. Birthdays are remembered. Sacrifices are made on each other’s behalf. Eventually children come into the picture, and greater sacrifice is called forth -- greater selflessness. The vocation to love deepens. In the concrete, everyday living of the sacrament, it is possible to lose consciousness of the beauty. Like looking through a magnifying glass at a couple of letters on a page, we can focus much attention on the activities of marriage: earning a wage to support each other, schooling decisions for the children, driving to sporting events. Just as we need to put the magnifying glass down and look at the beauty of the whole poem that has been composed, so can we step back from our concrete tasks from time to time to appreciate the beauty of what has been fostered throughout the span of married life. There truly is a grandeur and beauty to the married life lived well, the married life which has embodied the call to sacrificial, giving love.
I think of a friend of mine who has been married about ten years and has three children. He goes to work every day faithfully; and he works very hard. Some of his friends go from work to the bar at the end of the day. But he says, “I just can’t wait to get home at the end of the day. I have it so good.” He’s a man who can step back and see the beauty of what God has given him in the sacrament of marriage.
The whole of the Church’s teaching on marriage is to help people see the true beauty of marriage and to live it to the fullest possible extent. We can be very excited about the Church’s teachings on marriage, because they give life. Far from being a set of restraining regulations, these teachings help us realize how precious and great marriage is. So step back and consider the beauty and grandeur in your own marriage and/or the marriages around you. I hope the subsequent teachings from Familiaris Consortio help us to do this.
In the Hearts of Jesus and Mary,