Building Stronger Marriages

“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love to one another” (1 Th. 3:12), and again, “concerning fraternal love… we urge you, beloved, to do so more and more” (1 Th. 4:9-10). More and more! Marital love is not defended primarily by presenting indissolubility as a duty, or by repeating doctrine, but by helping it to grow ever stronger under the impulse of grace. A love that fails to grow is at risk. Growth can only occur if we respond to God’s grace through constant acts of love, acts of kindness that become ever more frequent, intense, generous, tender and cheerful. Husbands and wives “become conscious of their unity and experience it more deeply from day to day”. The gift of God’s love poured out upon the spouses is also a summons to constant growth in grace. (Pope Francis Amoris Laetitia 134)

What is Marriage?

In the Catholic Church marriage, as a sacramental union of one man and one woman is key to and interwoven in God’s eternal plan for every human being. In this plan, human sexuality and fertility, the birth of children and family, as well as human fulfilment, salvation and eternal happiness, are all drawn from and built upon the marital one flesh union of man and woman. Marriage is, as was instituted in ‘the beginning’ by the Creator, the original societal foundation upon which every family and community is built and by which it has the potential to prosper and increase. Following we read in more formal language, and with regard to the ‘sign’ of the sacrament, the understanding of marriage as recently expounded in Pope Francis’s exhortation Amoris Laetitia:

“The sacrament of marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church. The married couple is therefore a permanent reminder for the Church of what took place on the cross; they are for one another and for their children witnesses of the salvation in which they share through the sacrament. Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church. Consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment.” (72)