February 2022 Four County Catholic
Called to the Joy of Love
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
A faithful marriage is a re-creation in time and space of Jesus’ love for His people, the Church. Selfless love, which is the core of the Gospel message, is truly the very heart of marriage.
World Marriage Day, observed on Sunday, February 13th takes place during National Marriage Week, February 7 –14. The theme this year - Called to the Joy of Love - provides us an opportunity to focus on building a culture of life and love that begins with supporting and promoting marriage and the family.
The core strength of a cohesive and morally centered society, capable of being the best it can be, begins with an awareness of the vital importance of marriage and family. Husbands and wives who work together for the benefit of their families give us an example of strength, courage, and virtue. We know that a true partnership in marriage is reinforced by inviting Christ into the relationship. As we read in Ecclesiastes 4:12, “A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart.”
The unique union of the Sacrament of Matrimony is a sacred sign of the Lord’s life-giving presence in the Church.
Outlining some of the trials that married couples face and acknowledging that the pandemic has aggravated some family problems, Our Holy Father, Pope Francis, shared the following words of encouragement and advice.
“No amount of difficulty can take away the joy of those who know that they are walking with the Lord ever at their side. Live out your vocation with enthusiasm,” he urged. “Never allow your faces to grow sad or gloomy; your husband or wife needs your smile. Your children need your looks of encouragement. Your priests and other families need your presence and your joy: the joy that comes from the Lord!”
The home, also known as the Domestic Church, is where husband and wife live the bond of marriage and where parents teach their children to know, love, and serve God. These Christian families are joy-filled witnesses radiating God’s love to the world.
The Catechism informs us that God’s plan for marriage and family life corresponds to the deepest desires of men and women for lasting happiness and true joy. As sons and daughters of God, we are made for love, for God is love. The family, whose mission is “to guard, reveal and communicate love,” is the common place where God’s love is first experienced, and the joy of love is made present.
Many couples and families bear witness to the joy of faithful love by steadfast commitment and fruitful sacrifice within their daily lives. Love, willing the good of the other, is sacrifice. All it takes is to gaze upon a Crucifix to be reminded of this.
May we be ever supportive of these families, looking to them with inner joy and deep comfort – thanking them for the testimony they offer. And, as Hebrews commands, “Encourage each other daily while it is still today.” (Hebrews 3:13)
To those of you who are newly married or engaged please know that our Catholic Family Services office offers resources to help you build a strong and healthy marriage. Information can be found on our website. You may also look to the example set by married couples whose enduring love gives witness to the beauty of a sacramental marriage. May God, the author of Marriage, join with you and your spouse on your journey to love.
And may almighty God bless each of you, because no matter your vocation, we are all brothers and sisters in God’s family and through baptism we are all called to the joy of love.
Sincerely yours in the Joy of Christ,
Michael R. Cote
Bishop of Norwich