May 28, 2015
Dare to Be Brave—Dare to Marry
He has called you brave…
Pope Francis continues to surprise us as he brings a lot to our attention that has previously gone unrecognized.
Usually, as we watch a newly-married couple, or a man and woman preparing for marriage, we call them “beautiful,” or “so-in-love,” or “happy.”
The Holy Father calls them brave!
This is the time of year so many of our couples approach the altar for the sacrament of marriage.
What Pope Francis notes is that such a couple today is not only in love, but very brave.
Why? Because to marry according to the Lord’s will is becoming counter-cultural!
For one, fewer and fewer couples actually even approach the sacrament. We have a crisis of vocations to lifelong, lifegiving, faithful, forever marriage! Individuals are choosing to remain single longer, or, to live together without marrying. Only 50% of our Catholic young adults even choose the sacrament of marriage! To do so now, to “go against the current,” is brave!
Two, a good number of those who do marry sadly end up in separation and divorce. It used to be observed that Catholic couples do not divorce. I’m afraid our rate of divorce is now close to the national average. To marry now, when a couple sees so many failed marriages all around, is brave!
Three, our culture wonders about anyone’s ability to say “forever,” about the wisdom of “tying oneself down” or “limiting one’s options.” Is it not better to stay safe, secure, protecting what you have instead of totally entrusting yourself to another in love? Those who do choose to commit themselves in sacrificial love to another for the rest of their lives are brave! As Pope Francis says:
“The sacrament of marriage is a great act of faith and love: a witness to the courage to believe in the beauty of the creative act of God, and to live that love is always urging us to go on beyond ourselves.”
Four, the Holy Father notes that couples who marry in Church, who ask for the sacrament of marriage, are especially courageous, because they dare to claim that their marriage is not only one of human love—in itself a very beautiful and sacred claim…but one of divine love! Now they desire to love each other as God loves us, as Christ loves His Church. Their love is now not only human, but divine. To dare that is brave.
“That is why when I meet newlyweds,” Pope Francis tells us,
“I say: ‘Here are the brave ones,’ because it takes courage to love one another as Christ…!”
A man and woman, united in the sacrament of marriage, committed to a lifelong, lifegiving, loving, faithful bond, blessed with children, are today’s new minority. In a culture that has presumed to re-define marriage, in a society that can view children as accessories, in a world that equates happiness with pleasure, possessions, power, and keeping-one’s-options open, marriage can be viewed as oppressive and antiquated.
A wise woman commented to me that TV today usually portrays a man and woman in traditional marriage as quaint, museum pieces, usually narrow-minded and backwards.
With all that going against them, our newlyweds today deserve more than ever our love, admiration, prayers, and gratitude. They are brave!
Last Saturday, I had the honor of ordaining twelve men as priests. I looked out upon them with gratitude, admiring their sense of self-sacrifice, trust in God, dare of commitment!
That’s now how we also view our newlyweds! Pope Francis is right as usual:
“Men and women brave enough to carry this treasure in the ‘earthen vessels’ of our humanity…so brave…may God bless them a thousand times over for this.”
Congratulations, brave newlyweds!