Marriage. A journey with the person you love, giving yourself freely and without reservation, in a life giving relationship for the rest of your lives. A marital relationship is the essence of what a family is based on, and a family is the building block of society.
Professional development. The acquisition of skills and knowledge, for personal development and advancement.
When we are going to do something in our lives we typically invest in it. When endeavouring improvement in our careers we seek tertiary qualifications and professional development. When we want to do a hobby well, we seek a course or lessons. So why not undertake a bit of professional development for our marriages?
Marriage is apparently the hardest vocation, yet a priest gets at least seven years in the seminary before being ordained. People spend on average between 120 and 200 hours planning a wedding. And that is just the logistics for the day. After marriage preparation it is easy to forget the need for ‘professional development’ every now and then, to reinvest in our marriages. Especially when the road is rocky, which naturally happens in various seasons of life – times of illness, pregnancy, childbirth, career ups and downs and other hard times. Pope Francis recently spoke of this: “The hardship of the journey causes them to experience interior weariness; they lose the flavour of matrimony and they cease to draw water from the well of the Sacrament. Daily life becomes burdensome, and often, even “nauseating”.”
The Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops recently was held in Rome. It’s theme was “The Pastoral Challenges of the Family in the Context of Evangelisation”. Prior to the Synod, when talking about the Church’s teaching on divorce, German Cardinal Walter Brandmüller said “If there is a marriage between a man and a woman, baptized Christian, which was valid and consummated, it is indissoluble. Only death can part them.” If this is the case, then positive messages about marriage and good quality and ongoing formation for engaged and married couples is essential to support this sacrament and vocation.
As marriage progresses it can be easy to drift away from each other with all that goes on with finances, career and family. In marriage we don’t want to be simply sharing the same bed or house, we need more than that. We need to be well formed in what the Church teaches and how to live it out in our daily lives. We need opportunities to learn practical ways of growing in our vocation, especially the hard parts – giving of ourselves to the other. We need good communication skills, ways of treating marriage, foundations for intimacy and knowledge of good ways to give and receive from the other in order to experience the richness and fruits of marriage and true love.
The Synod needs to address this in order to fulfill what Cardinal Brandmüller says is his aim for the Synod: that “faithful Catholics may deepen their faith and the life of sacraments after the synod’s conclusions have been put into practice.” How will the church invest in marriage and family? How can they do better to support what seems to be failing now? Our Catholic families seem to be doing no better than their secular counterparts.
This investment will develop and advance marriage, and the base of the family, particularly at a time when much about marriage and family is uncertain in our modern age. Its worth it.
Originally Posted at Restless Press (checked it out yet?)