World Marriage Day
Family life board message for Sunday 12th Feb 2017
Today, 12th February 2017 is world marriage day. World Marriage day is celebrated on the 2nd Sunday of February every year to honour husband and wife as the foundation of the family, the basic unit of the society. It salutes the beauty of their faithfulness, sacrifice and joy in daily marriage life.
It’s celebration started in Louisiana, New Orleans, USA in 1981 as “we believe in marriage day”. It was later adopted by Worldwide Marriage Encounter’s National leadership. In 1983, the name was changed to World Marriage Day (WMD) and in 1993, St John Paul II, the then Pope, imparted his Apostolic Blessing on word marriage day.
The theme for WMD has been permanently adopted as “Love One Another”. This phrase is the commandment given to us by Jesus in John 15:12. It speaks to us in a simple but challenging way of how our Father wishes us to live daily. Our Lord Jesus Christ defined love as “On one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” (John 15:13, the African Bible). This is redemptive love or Agape love, where we do all we can to save souls by directing them to God in total submission to God’s will. To love your neighbor as you love yourself then would mean that just as you would like your soul to live in eternity with God, do exactly the same for your neighbor. Redemptive love must not be confused with western popular romantic love.
As men and women can independently pursue education, professions and careers, they do not need each other to prosper as individuals. However, neither can bear a child without the other. Therefore, the greatest and irreplaceable value of the male-female relationship is procreation and moral education of the children. The man’s role is the protector – the moral keeper. He provides an environment in which the woman and children thrive. Morally, he is the figure head of God in the family. The order of leadership in the family is God, Christ then man. The woman role is to bears and nurtures the children. Both provide. Without morally upright children, a community would soon die.
It takes 18-24 years to prepare a child to become socially independent. Investing such a long time and requisite energy on a project needs a firm commitment driven and sustained by the love of God. This commitment is the sacrament of matrimony and is the foundation on which a marriage and family should be built. The sacrament of matrimony is the entry into a CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN married life. The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and woman establish themselves a partnership of the whole of life and which is ordered by it nature to the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of the offspring, has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament between the baptized. (Cannon 1055). A covenant is an enriched contract in that it is one, Sacred, two Places primary emphasis on mutual personal commitment of the spouses as opposed to the mutual rights and obligations of marriage and three, Fosters a more balanced attention to both marriage preparation programs as well as programs to assist couples in living out their marriages. This later part (assisting couples in living out their marriage) has unfortunately been neglected to the detriment of marriage. (New commentary no the Code of the Cannon law pg. 1242). And the essential properties of marriage are unity and indissolubility, which is Christian marriage obtains a special firmness by reason of the sacrament (Canon 1056). The consent of the parties, legitimately manifested between persons qualified by law, makes marriage; no human power is able to supply this consent. (Canno 1057, 1). Consent, not cohabitation makes marriage! Matrimonial consent is an act of the will by which a man and a woman mutually give and accept each other through an irrevocable covenant in order to establish marriage. (Cannon 1057, 2). Note that is our society, there are types of marriages (mutual consent) that are different from the CATHOLIC CHRISTIAN marriage. In the majority of other Christian denominations, marriage is not a sacrament. Marriage is consummated by the first penetrative vaginal intercourse.
Neither the good of the spouses nor the procreation and education of the offspring’s is designated as the primary end (finalities or expected outcomes) of marriage. Instead, both are equally essential and inseparable in marriage. (New commentary on the Code of the Canon Law pg 1243). It is therefore morally wrong for a couple to marry and deliberately refuse to bear children but being naturally childless does not constitute invalidity of the marriage. A family is therefore defined as a man married to a woman with offspring’s (born or adopted). A man living with a woman and who have offspring’s but are unmarried do not constitute a family but a cohabiting couple with children.
The glue that holds the family together is redemptive love as taught and demonstrated by our Lord Jesus Christ – selfless service to deliver mankind from sin in total submission to the will of God. On the other hand the glue that holds the many families together to form a community is chastity. Lack of chastity presents the most destructive force to the society as it destroys families which are the primary unit of the society. Chastity teaches the way to self-mastery and it simply means avoiding sexual activity outside the sacrament of matrimony.
Dear brothers and sisters, the prosperity of any community and country is founded on the moral quality of its children, which in turn depends on the integrity of the family unit.
Let us courageously and devotedly guard the principal of chastity, the marriage institution and the family unit, not just for prosperity but more importantly for the glory of God our Father.
Family Life Board,
Archdiocese of Nairobi