Normal marriage does not exist Cardinal tells WMoF

There is no such thing as a normal marriage Cardinal Vincent Nichols told the World Meeting of Families in a keynote address.

“Everyone is different” and all married couples will go through periods of difficulty.

Fragility and brokenness are part of that.

Couples and families often need resources and support, Nichols said, although they should always be “on offer” and never forced.

In his address, Nichols offered a number of ways marriage preparation can help couples seeking marriage.

“On this journey one quality is very important. It is this: learning to sense how and where God is present,” he said.

Couples need the Church to welcome them and to present a “clear vision” of the marriage sacrament.

The sacrament “is rooted in the love of God and is to be an expression of the faithfulness and fruitfulness of God’s love and is “intertwined with the love Christ has for his Church.”

It includes sacrifice, forgiveness, and healing.

“Our teaching is a rich vision that informs all that we want to share with those who are starting out on married life,” he said.

Nichols said parishes can help engaged couples to embrace the Church’s vision, even in the face of an increasingly secular view and focus on the wedding “industry.”

Underpinning all marriage preparation should be a focus on God’s call to holiness, he said.

As Pope Francis wrote in the exhortation Gaudete et exsultate, holiness can grow even through small, everyday actions – the building blocks of family life.

Nichols’s advice for good marriage preparation includes expressions of solidarity with the couple, so they know they do not have to journey through engagement and married life alone.

“Those involved in leading marriage prep should also remember to be humble and to trust in God’s grace, remembering that the Holy Spirit should be the first guide of the couple,” Nichols said.

He urged priests to emphasise the importance of prayer, especially teaching couples to learn to pray together with scripture.

This will mean priests need to choose their words carefully, “so that the hearts of young people can be reached with the truth of marriage, also recognising that not all couples begin with the desire to go through the process of marriage preparation.”

Encounters with older married couples can also be a good resource for couples engaged to be married.

Older couples may be able to help them consider their hopes and expectations for marriage, he said.

Among the topics to be included at marriage preparation discussions, Nichols suggested:

• The gift children are to parents and to the Church
• The importance of honest, thoughtful decisions on planning a family together
• The “gift of sexuality, the gift of the body”

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News category: World.

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