A marriage enjoyed by two people of deep faith should have several characteristics which greatly differ from other marriages. Forgiveness, mercy, passion, and service should be more prevalent in a Christian home. They aren’t always more visible, but they should be.
One of the great gifts which faith should give to a Christian marriage is prayer. On a regular basis, you should pray for your spouse–not just ABOUT them, but FOR them.
Imagine the encouragement it would bring to know that on a nearly daily basis someone is praying for you. They are on your side. They have your back. They are appealing to heaven for your sake.
Prayer is one way in which all three roles of a spouse – friend, partner, and lover – is expressed.
On April 8, 2016, Pope Francis released his long-awaited apostolic exhortation on the family, Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love). Archbishop Joseph E. Kurtz, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, welcomed the exhortation as a “love letter to families . . . inviting all of us . . . to never stop growing in love.”
Amoris Laetitia is an exhortation in the purest sense; Pope Francis passionately urges families to renew their zeal and devotion to building marriages that both experience and reflect the love of Christ, which brings joy to families and joy to the Church.
Every family should look to the icon of the Holy Family of Nazareth. Its daily life had its share of burdens and even nightmares, as when they met with Herod’s implacable violence. This last was an experience that, sad to say, continues to afflict the many refugee families who in our day feel rejected and helpless. Like the Magi, our families are invited to contemplate the Child and his Mother, to bow down and worship him (cf. Mt 2:11). Like Mary, they are asked to face their family’s challenges with courage and serenity, in good times and bad, and to keep in their heart the great things which God has done (cf. Lk 2:19, 51). The treasury of Mary’s heart also contains the experiences of every family, which she cherishes. For this reason, she can help us understand the meaning of these experiences and to hear the message God wishes to communicate through the life of our families. —Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 30
What challenge in your family life are you facing right now in which you need more courage and serenity? How can the Holy Family’s example help you?
Father, be with our family as we navigate our challenges. Teach us to trust in your plans and remember your faithfulness. We put our sufferings and fears, our hopes and dreams, into your hands. Be with everyone who suffers, especially those who are alone. Make our family, like the Holy Family, a place of prayer and love—and a refuge for others who suffer. Mary, help us to ponder, as you did, the meaning of our experiences, especially when we don’t fully understand the circumstances in our lives.
The Lord’s presence dwells in real and concrete families, with all their daily troubles and struggles, joys and hopes. Living in a family makes it hard for us to feign or lie; we cannot hide behind a mask. If that authenticity is inspired by love, then the Lord reigns there, with his joy and his peace. The spirituality of family love is made up of thousands of small but real gestures. In that variety of gifts and encounters which deepen communion, God has his dwelling place. —Pope Francis, Amoris Laetitia, 315
What “gestures”—perhaps a kind look, thoughtful word, or a kiss or hug—deepen communion in your family? What other small actions (perhaps praying the Rosary, grace at meals) could help your family experience more of God’s presence in your home?
Lord, thank you for dwelling in our very own family, with all its daily troubles and joys. Thank you that we can come to you transparently, with our messiness, without hiding behind a mask of false perfection. Please guide us as we seek to make our home your dwelling place. Inspire us with signs of thoughtfulness and kindness so that our family continues to grow in our love for you and one another.