In a marriage a man and a woman pledge themselves to one another in an unbreakable alliance of total mutual self-giving. A total union of love. Love that is not a passing emotion or temporary infatuation, but a responsible and free decision to bind oneself completely, “in good times and in bad,” to one’s partner. It is the gift of oneself to the other. It is a love to be proclaimed before the eyes of the whole world. It is unconditional.
In that same homily, John Paul II said that, to be capable of married love “calls for careful preparation from early childhood to wedding day. It requires the constant support of Church and society throughout its development.” When he was Archbishop of Kraków, he responded to the Polish regime’s efforts to undermine marriage and family life by organizing intensive courses on marriage preparation and family life issues and spreading them throughout the Archdiocese. These courses were for clergy members and lay people alike. Even before that, Blessed John Paul II dedicated much of his time during his years as a priest working with young people in order to prepare them for marriage and family life.
He taught them that:
The love of husband and wife in God’s plan leads beyond itself and new life is generated, a family is born. The family is a community of love and life, a home in which children are guided to maturity.
Marriage is a holy sacrament. Those baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus are married in his name also. Their love is a sharing in the love of God. He is its source. The marriages of Christian couples, today renewed and blessed, are images on earth of the wonder of God, the loving, life-giving communion of Three Persons in one God, and of God’s covenant in Christ, with the Church.
Christian marriage is a sacrament of salvation. It is the pathway to holiness for all members of a family. With all my heart, therefore, I urge that your homes be centers of prayer; homes where families are at ease in the presence of God; homes to which others are invited to share hospitality, prayer and the praise of God: “With gratitude in your hearts sing psalm and hymns and inspired songs to God; and never say or do anything except in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3, 16. 17).
The pastoral care of the family was a priority for Blessed John Paul II throughout his life. Let us pray now that the Church may continue to support her families, especially as She prepares for the upcoming synod on the family.
Blessed John Paul II, Pray for Us!