Dialogue: The Family Today. “Let marriage be held in honour by all”.

In a final admonition towards the end of the letter to the Hebrews the author says: “Let marriage be held in honour by all” (Hebrews 13:4). To say that Christian marriage and the family today are under threat would be a truism: so many single-parent families, same-sex unions or marriages and many other examples besides. There is a movement in western countries to treat of traditional marriage as a thing of the past, and to work towards a new form of public life in which it will not be taken account of. This is the world in which we live. This would not be the place to speak at length of this situation. The feast we are celebrating, however, is an occasion for reflect on the current state of affairs and consider what they can do to renew belief in Christian marriage and help those in trouble on the issue.

            A beginning point could be conviction of the importance of Christian marriage, for society, for children and from many other points of view. The Vatican Council has dealt with this question very well in its Pastoral Constitution on the Church in the Modern World, especially in its section on “The Dignity of Marriage and the Family. Marriage and the Family in the Modern World” (paragraphs 47-52). Thus for instance: (par. 52). “The family is a kind of school of deeper humanity. But if it is to achieve the full flowering of its life and mission, it needs the kindly communion of minds and the joint deliberation of spouses, as well as the painstaking cooperation of parents in the education of their children. … Thus the family, in which the various generations come together and help one another grow wiser and harmonize personal rights with the other requirements of social life, is the foundation of society”.

Two worlds, our human one and the divine, came together in Jesus, Mary and Joseph, at Jerusalem and Nazareth. Mary and Joseph had their worries about Jesus’ safety.  The Holy Family of Nazareth whose feast we are celebrating can be the model for the family in this rapidly changing world: stability and openness to meaningful change.

Quite an amount of attention is being given today by both civil and religious traditions today on the family in society, including Pope Francis’s call for an examination of current views on the matter. The Church will discuss marriage at consistory meetings. The question was addressed at the extraordinary synod in October 2014 and will again be addressed in the ordinary synod the following year. 2015. Many elements will be examined in more detail and clarified during these sessions. Let us pray the all will lead to marriage being held in greater honour as a result.

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