NUMBERS 2 STATE OF MARRIAGE IN THE UK CATHOLIC CHURCH
NUMBERS 3 STATE OF MARRIAGE IN THE CANADIAN CATHOLIC CHURCH Drop of 74% in 34 years.
NUMBERS 4 STATE OF MARRIAGE IN THE US CATHOLIC CHURCH Drop of 82.1% in 60 years (source:USCCB)
WHY? Sexual revolution Availability of contraception Secular Feminism Consumer society mentality Church liberalism Weak or no faith education Rise of New-Age Ease of divorce, broken families Increase of the entertainment business Moral Relativism 5
“Modern man experiences the threat of spiritual indifference and even of the death of conscience; and this death is something deeper than sin: it is the killing of the sense of sin. Today so many factors contribute to killing conscience in the men of our time, and this corresponds to that reality that Christ called the‘sin against the Holy Spirit.’” Saint John Paul II Angelus April 1, 1979 6 WHY?
7 THE ENEMY: RELATIVISM “Relativism, which considers all opinions true even if they are contradictory, is the greatest problem of our time. We are moving toward a dictatorship of relativism which does not recognize anything as for certain and which has as its highest goal one’s own ego and one’s own desires.” Pope Benedict XVI.
8 THE ENEMY: RELATIVISM Examples from couples: "Well, I don't see the problem with homosexual unions, it does not change my love for my fiancée, it does not alter our relationship, so why can't they do what they want?" “Dave and I have been living together for over two years now. There is nothing wrong with it and it doesn't make us immoral. It is very unchristian in a marriage preparation course to point out otherwise. Secondly, there is no difference between oral contraceptives and any other medication that is available. I don’t personally take oral contraceptives, but in my mind, if someone were to choose to take them, it does not make them immoral.
“In addition, the two purposes of sex are flawed. To say that someone who is having sex other than for those two purposes is immoral is again unchristian. Per the question about consummating the marriage, I did not fail to see the importance of the question. I read the whole article and do not agree with most of it. I will not change my opinion. I live by the Golden Rule, I do my best to help others every day, I love my family and friends and my dogs. I pray every day. I have already had sex with Dave. I love Dave. None of these things, at the age of 33, make me immoral or less of a catholic. I know that God loves me and will always love me no matter what. I am also sure that God would never condemn the love that Dave and I share, but be happy for it. This is all Denise by the way. Dave is too laid back to get upset over things.” 9 THE ENEMY: RELATIVISM
WHO ARE THE COUPLES TODAY? Average age of first marriage: Women 1970 = 20.8 2010 = 26.1 Men 1970 = 23.2 2010 = 28.2 Women giving birth for the first time at age 30 or older: 1970 = 4% 2007 = 22% The needs are not the same as 35 years ago. 10
- Impregnated with relativism. - Deeply wounded by life. - Many come from broken families - Have had several partners - 90% in sexual relations, while 60 to 70% cohabitate. - Majority uses contraception. - Very little faith formation. 11 WHO ARE THE COUPLES TODAY? A religious wedding is for them a beautiful tradition. Several have a sense of needing God’s blessings, without knowing exactly why...
THE NEEDS A MORAL AND SPIRITUAL COMPASS. HEALING and CONVERSION DEEP FOUNDATIONS Couples need to hear THE unchanging Truth. They need to learn that true love is self-giving. They need to encounter Christ. When you build a house, you start by digging deep enough foundations that will allow it to resist the storms (CHRIST), then, and then only, you add the building and decorating. Christ himself said,“Without me you can do nothing...” John 15:5 12
THE PLAN Integrate Theology of the Body It will allow couples: To discover the dignity of each Person. To form their conscience to the beauty and complementarity of their different missions as man and woman, to the nobleness and worth of their sexuality, as well as to the fruitfulness of their love. To discover the incomparable value of each life. To also enter deeply into the Sacrament of Matrimony, the “primordial” sacrament, as St. John Paul II called it. 13
THE PLAN 1) DO NOT BE AFRAID TO PROCLAIM THE TRUTH Trust couples with the truth. They long for a strong and uplifting Church, a Church they can be proud of, capable of feeding their hunger for what is true and beautiful. 2) PREPARE THE SOIL Nothing ever grew on concrete! The preparation needs to be gradual and personal to give couples the means to process, understand, and own the teachings. No more “one-size-fits- all” programs. “God sows the seed, and some time or other he will do the reaping. The one thing I must do is to make sure the seed falls on fertile ground.” Fr. Alfred Delp, S.J. condemned to death by the Nazis, 1945. 14
TAKE THE TIME 3) TAKE THE TIME Marriage is a vocation. As it takes time to form a priest, marriage deserves more than a weekend preparation. 4) DIG DEEP FOUNDATIONS Teach couples to invite Christ in their marriage. If Marriage has been raised to the dignity of a sacrament, it means that Christ’s grace is vital to its success. 5) A HOLISTIC APPROACH We are whole, body and soul. Do not separate the human from the divine, the life-skills from the spirituality of marriage. 15 THE PLAN
“Young people need to encounter the Church’s teaching in its integrity, challenging and countercultural as that teaching may be; more importantly, they need to see it embodied by faithful married couples who bear convincing witness to its truth.” Pope Benedict XVI to American Bishops, March 9 th, 2012 Instructors need to be witnesses: they live what they teach. 16
HOW? A FEW PRINCIPLES Christian marriage has both human and religious dimensions. The Church needs to be concerned to form and prepare engaged couples in both. In the past, marriage preps could focus on the human dimensions because couples had a good religious background. It is not the case anymore. The religious dimension of marriage is in fact the most important and the most lacking. It is what the Church alone has a singular competence to teach. 17
HOW? A FEW PRINCIPLES 18 “In other words, an engaged couple can learn well just about everything they need to know regarding the human dimension of marriage – e.g., good communication skills, good budgeting practices, good parenting principles, etc. – from reliable secular sources, and we should feel free to refer couples to them. However, with respect to the religious dimension of marriage (i.e., its core sacramental identity and the moral obligations that flow from its identity) it is the Catholic Church and the Catholic Church alone that can teach them what they need to know.” Steve Patton
Research shows that couples who seriously practice a traditional religious faith – be it Christian or other - have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population. The factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice. 19 FAITH AFFILIATION % DIVORCE REDUCTION OR INCREASE Protestant - Nominal +20 % chances of divorce Protestant - Conservative -10 % Protestant - Active Conservative -35 % Catholic (nominal) -5 % Catholic - Active -31 % Catholic practicing NFP-95 % Jewish (nominal) +53 % Jewish - Active -97 % Numbers: W. Bradford Wilcox and Elizabeth Williamson, “The Cultural Contradictions of mainline Family Ideology and Practice,” in American Religions and the Family, (2007) p. 50
METHOD 1) A SELF-EDUCATING PROCESS NO LECTURE. The couples will start by finding their own answers. We then complete with the teachings of the Church. This process allows them to “own” the knowledge that is being passed on in order to embrace it. OWNERSHIP is key. 20
God invented marriage. Genesis will set the bases of the preparation by defining God’s plan of love for man, woman, and marriage. (Natural Laws). The point of returning to the beginning is not only to rediscover the meaning of marriage but also to help us grasp the significance of being male and female. Mary Healy, Men and Women are From Eden. 21 2) START WITH THE ORIGINS (preparing the soil)
“Sin begets sin and all the sins of history are related. This aspect leads us to speak of what is called 'original sin'. What is the meaning of this reality, which is so difficult to understand? Pope Benedict XVI 22 The power to decide what is good and what is evil does not belong to man, but to God alone. Man possesses an extremely far reaching freedom since he can eat of every tree of the garden. But his freedom is not unlimited: it must halt before the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for he is called to accept the moral law given by God. Veritatis Splendor, 35
- Formation of conscience. - What is a Sacrament? - What is the sign of the Sacrament of Matrimony? - Its grace? - What does Christian marriage represent? This will introduce the theology of marriage and sexuality... 23 3) GRADUALLY INTRODUCE THE DIFFERENT CONCEPTS (the foundations)
Analyze each sentence: - Freely and without Reservation. - To Give Yourselves to Each Other. - For the Rest of Your lives. - Will you Accept Children lovingly from God and bring them up according to the law of Christ and his Church. - I Take You. 24 4) FOLLOW THE RITE OF MARRIAGE
What do we expect from marriage? What is going to hold our marriage together for the rest of our lives? What are our potential problems? How is our past going to affect us? What is our common life-project? How do we want to raise our children? Communication skills must bring forth communion. Teach them how to pray together. 25 5) GIVE COUPLES THE TOOLS FOR THE BUILDING
“For a family that prays together is a family that stays together.” Father Peyton, Mother Teresa 26 Marriage is a work in progress, a journey, not a destination. Challenge the couples to be involved in the parish. Offer follow-up with marriage enrichment resources.
Marriage Enrichment Resources A mentoring program for the first 5 years of marriage for couples married in the Catholic Church to foster the development of relationship skills, broaden their understanding of each other and of the living out of the sacrament of marriage. Have meaningful conversations with your spouse, children, and/or teenagers that build intimacy and remove friction. See more at: www.agapecatholicministries.com under Enrichment.www.agapecatholicministries.com 27
“Maybe the greatest threat to the Church is not heresy, not dissent, not secularism, not even moral relativism, but this sanitized, feel-good, boutique, therapeutic spirituality that makes no demands, calls for no sacrifice, asks for no conversion, entails no battle against sin, but only soothes and affirms.” Cardinal Timothy Dolan, Archbishop of New York, President of the USCCB, November 2011. 28
Answers from the couples who completed the online Agapè CMP marriage prep course in 2013. Abstinence: Yes or Maybe = 98.0% NFP: Yes or Maybe = 94.0% (Yes: 77.0%, Maybe: 21.0%, No: 2.0%) (Yes: 65.0%, Maybe: 29.0%, No: 6.0%) Agapè CMP’s 2013 NUMBERS