All too often, as we strive to defend marriage in the midst of this Culture of Death, it is easy to miss the signs. They are there, right in front of us, but our concentration on law and public policy often leads us to miss them. Plus, the secular sources of information are hardly likely to give them much attention, since the media tends to stress the bizarre, the sensational, the dysfunctional.
Yet the signs of hope are always there.
Just within the last week, they have been called to my own attention very vividly.
Last Saturday, I attended the Spanish Couples Congress in the Bronx. This event was co-sponsored by the Family Life Office of the Archdiocese and the Catholic Marriage Movement — a very vibrant and dynamic group of Latino couples who are dedicated to strengthening their own marriages and proclaiming the truth and beauty of the Sacrament of Marriage. The day was beautiful and powerful — even to someone like me who understands very little Spanish!
The most encouraging thing was the luminous faith and love of the scores of volunteers and hundreds of attendees. Many of these couples were native New Yorkers, but so many came here from distant countries — the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, and others. But what they all have in common is a love for their spouse, and a love for God as an integral part of their marriage.
This truly was an act of hopeful witness to the power of married love, and the privileged place it holds in God’s plan for us.
A second event also provides us with a beacon of hope for marriage. Every year, the Family Life Office sponsors the 5oth Wedding Jubilee Mass at St. Patrick’s. It is a wonderful event — hundreds of jubilee couples come to the Cathedral with their families and proclaim their ever-new love for each other. The church is packed and joyous, and there isn’t a dry eye in the house when the couples stand and renew their marriage vows.
These jubilee couples are a sign of God’s love — especially to the endurance of that love, no matter what hostile winds blow. They testify to the potential of every marriage, and to the power of married love — a power that can change lives and transform the world.
The Jubilee Mass is one of my favorite events of the year. Ironically, I couldn’t attend this year because I was presenting at a Pre-Cana class that day. But it, too, gave me such encouragement and hope for the future of marriage.
Here before me I found sixty couples who were taking the courageous step of getting married in the Catholic Church — at a time when the culture, and perhaps many of their friends and loved ones, were telling them that they were crazy to do so. They sat on hard chairs all day, listened to me offer them insights and advice about the nature of real married love — the gift of self to another. Their smiles, laughter, genuine affection for each other, openness to me, and most of all their shining hopefulness all buoyed me, and reminded me that love and hope are always intimate partners.
There is no doubt that we are in a serious struggle to defend authentic marriage. We also have the challenge to call couples to rise above the ways of the world and embrace God’s plan for their marriage. But we must always remember to pay attention to those signs of hope that God in His goodness continues to offer us. This is a struggle worth fighting, one couple at a time, and our ultimate weapon is the power of married love.
As St. Augustine once famously wrote, “Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.”“Nothing conquers except truth and the victory of truth is love.”