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 | By Candace Bryant-Lester

Celebrating National Marriage Week

“The Joy of Love experienced by families is also the joy of the Church.” (Amoris Laetitia 1)

Love is in the air – Valentine’s Day right around the corner! In the week leading up to this celebration of love we also celebrate National Marriage Week in the Church, a movement that aims to increase marriage education across the country to promote healthy marriages.

“The observances of National Marriage Week and World Marriage Day are an opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family.” (United States Conference of Catholic Bishops)

In his 2016 apostolic exhortation Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love), Pope Francis reminds us of the beauty found in the love between spouses and within families. It sometimes seems as though that beauty is in danger of getting lost – between marriage and divorce statistics or the everyday grind of busy family lives.

“The experience of love in families is a perennial source of strength for the life of the Church.” (88)

The sacrament of marriage is a lifelong commitment, taking to heart Christ’s words “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder,” solidifying God’s original plan for man and woman in marriage. (62)

Marriage as a reflection of the union of Christ and his Church

Despite the busyness of marriage and family life today, the core of marriage remains the same: It is a reflection of the mystery of the union of Christ and his Church. (11) Creating a family mimics the creative life-giving powers of our Creator, a privilege that bears much responsibility in raising the next generation of Christians. It takes the strength and love of Christ to make marriage all that it can truly be – everything that it was meant to be.

The sacrament of marriage is only the beginning of many beautiful things in this life. Christ’s call for us to go out into the world and make disciples begins first at home, where families unite themselves to Christ as a domestic church. What starts at home with our own spouses and children flows outward from the home, the very lifeblood of the Church, until it spills out into the streets unto all people. (324)

"Jesus knocks on the door of families, to share with them the Eucharistic supper. There, spouses can always seal anew the paschal covenant which united them and which ought to reflect the covenant which God sealed with mankind in the cross. The Eucharist is the sacrament of the new covenant, where Christ’s redemptive work is carried out. The close bond between married life and the Eucharist thus becomes all the more clear. For the food of the Eucharist offers the spouses the strength and incentive needed to live the marriage covenant each day as a 'domestic church'." (318)

Candace Bryant-Lester is the assistant editor at FAITH Catholic.

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