Bishop's Blog / A Week Celebrating the Sacrament of Matrimony

By Bishop Strickland
Tuesday, February 07, 2023

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The photograph is of Ryan and Mary Rose Verrett. The offer a marriage ministry called Witness to Love.

Catechism Corner

National Marriage Week Feb 7-14th calls us to Live the Truth about Marriage

Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil

Dean of Catholic Identity

“The observances of National Marriage Week (Feb. 7-14) and World Marriage Day (Sunday, Feb. 12) 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

“The family founded on marriage is truly the sanctuary of life, “the place in which life — the gift of God — can be properly welcomed and protected against the many attacks to which it is exposed and can develop in accordance with what constitutes authentic human growth”. Its role in promoting and building the culture of life against “the possibility of a destructive ‘anti-civilization', as so many present trends and situations confirm”, is decisive and irreplaceable.” - Compendium of the Social Doctrine of the Catholic Church, # 231

The position of the Catholic Church on the nature of marriage is crystal clear. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of the Catholic Church explained it well in 2003.

"The Church's teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose."

"No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives."

Heterosexual marriage, openness to children, procreation, and the nurturing of children form the foundation for the family, and the family forms the foundation of civil society. Civil government does not create marriage. Neither can civil government manufacture some new “right” to marry for those who are incapable of fulfilling the ends of marriage.

Civil government has long regulated marriage for the real common good. For example, the ban on polygamy and age requirements were enforced to ensure that there was a mature decision at the basis of the Marriage contract.

The struggle we are facing in a rapidly declining western culture reveals an underlying clash of worldviews, both personal and corporate, and competing definitions of human freedom, human dignity, and human flourishing. Particularly in the western world, we are involved in a contest over the foundations of true freedom and what constitutes a truly human and just social order.

The Catholic Church insists that marriage is between one man and one woman, intended for life and open to children - and that the family and the social order founded upon it - has been inscribed by the Divine Architect into the order of the universe. It is revealed in the Natural Moral Law. This is true. Truth does not change; people and cultures do; sometimes for good and sometimes for evil.

Marriage is the first society into which children are meant to be born, learn to be fully human, grow in virtue, flourish, and then take their role in families and communities. We must not be afraid to make the claim that children have a right to a mother and a father. They do. Of course, we must care about the single parent family and the many broken homes which characterize this age. However, their existence does not change the norm necessary for building a stable and healthy society.

Intact marriages and families are the glue of a healthy and happy social order. For those called to Christian marriage, we need to be a visible, palpable reflection of this truth about marriage and family in our own lives. To live a faithful marriage today is increasingly countercultural in contemporary western culture.

Our convictions and claims concerning marriage and family are not outdated notions of a past era but provide the path to a healthy and happy future. Nor is our position defending marriage as between one man and one woman simply a “religious position”, though the teaching of the Church, for over two thousand years, has not and cannot change this truth.

We affirm that there is a Natural Moral Law which can be known by all men and women through the exercise of reason. This Natural Moral Law is the ground upon which civilization has been built. It has been the source for every great and authentic human and civil rights movement. The Natural Law gives us the moral norms we need to build societies and govern ourselves. It should inform our positive or civil law, or we will become lawless and devolve into anarchy.

There is a growing intolerance spreading against the rights of faithful Catholics, other Christians, and other people of good will to free expression, association, and political participation. This is reflected in a growing effort to censor any speech which points out and questions the cultural slide into the abyss of relativism which is occurring in Western Culture.

Efforts to prevent our vocal and public defense of the objective truth about marriage and the family are multiplying. In the face of this growing hostility, we need to fully embrace and defend the truth about marriage. For those who are called to it, we should also live it with joy.

Deacon Keith Fournier, JD, MTS, MPhil

Dean of Catholic Identity

Bishop Gorman Catholic School

Bishop Strickland

Bishop Joseph E. Strickland was named the fourth bishop of Tyler in September of 2012 by Pope Benedict XVI. Prior to being named bishop, he served a number of roles in the diocese, including vicar general, judicial vicar, and pastor of the Cathedral parish. He was ordained to the priesthood in 1985.
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