On December 8, Pope Benedict XVI released his message for the World Day of Peace (January 1, 2013). While the bulk of the message is about life, economic concerns, and freedom, Pope Benedict also discussed the role of marriage and the family in promoting a “culture of peace.”
Pope Benedict XVI: There is also a need to acknowledge and promote the natural structure of marriage as the union of a man and a woman in the face of attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different types of union; such attempts actually harm and help to destabilize marriage, obscuring its specific nature and its indispensable role in society.
These principles are not truths of faith, nor are they simply a corollary of the right to religious freedom. They are inscribed in human nature itself, accessible to reason and thus common to all humanity. The Church’s efforts to promote them are not therefore confessional in character, but addressed to all people, whatever their religious affiliation. Efforts of this kind are all the more necessary the more these principles are denied or misunderstood, since this constitutes an offence against the truth of the human person, with serious harm to justice and peace.
No one should ignore or underestimate the decisive role of the family, which is the basic cell of society from the demographic, ethical, pedagogical, economic and political standpoints. The family has a natural vocation to promote life: it accompanies individuals as they mature and it encourages mutual growth and enrichment through caring and sharing. The Christian family in particular serves as a seedbed for personal maturation according to the standards of divine love. The family is one of the indispensable social subjects for the achievement of a culture of peace. The rights of parents and their primary role in the education of their children in the area of morality and religion must be safeguarded. It is in the family that peacemakers, tomorrow’s promoters of a culture of life and love, are born and nurtured.
- Message for the Celebration of World Day of Peace 2013, 4 and 6 [emphasis added].
Now available is a one-page, one-sided flyer that briefly explains the bishops’ Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty. It’s meant to help parishes and pastors promote the Call to Prayer. It can be used as a bulletin insert, tacked up on a bulletin board, passed out to parishioners or attendees at an event, etc. It includes all the necessary information about the Call to Prayer and directs readers to the Call to Prayer webpage on the USCCB website. We encourage you to download, print, and pass out the flyer!
“Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say, rejoice. Indeed, the Lord is near.” So says the Entrance Antiphon for today, the third Sunday of Advent, known as “Gaudete Sunday” from the first word in the Entrance Antiphon: “Rejoice/Gaude.” The Collect, too, speaks of awaiting “the joys of so great a salvation” brought about by Jesus’ birth. It is fitting, then, to reflect on the following passage from Bl. John Paul II’s apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio, where the Holy Father speaks of the family’s role of bringing joy into the world.
Bl. John Paul II: The Christian family has a special vocation to witness to the paschal covenant of Christ by constantly radiating the joy of love and the certainty of the hope for which it must give an account: “The Christian family loudly proclaims both the present virtues of the Kingdom of God and the hope of a blessed life to come” (Second Vatican Council, Lumen Gentium, no. 35).
- Familiaris Consortio, no. 52
Another new resource for the bishops’ Call to Prayer is available now on the Call to Prayer website: Prayers of the Faithful for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty (PDF).
Cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to incorporate one or more of these prayers into their daily and Sunday Masses as a way to join together with one voice, asking God for the renewal of a culture of life and marriage and for protection of religious liberty.
Other available resources include a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.
As announced last week, the U.S. Catholic bishops are calling the faithful to prayer for the specific intentions of rebuilding a culture of life and marriage and protecting religious liberty. As one of five components of the Call to Prayer, cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a monthly Eucharistic Holy Hour on or near the last Sunday of each month, starting on December 30, the Feast of the Holy Family. (See here for all suggested dates).
Available now on the Call to Prayer website is a model for a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage and Liberty. It includes suggested Scripture readings and intercessions for this time of prayer and adoration. It is only one page (two-sided) and serves as a brief guide for clergy to use in preparing and leading the Eucharistic Holy Hours.
To learn more about the practice and spirituality of Eucharistic adoration, please watch this short video from the USCCB: “Adoration” (the video takes up to a minute to load).
Archbishop Cordileone Calls Supreme Court Decision to Hear Marriage Cases Significant Moment for Nation
- Marriage is union of one man and one woman
- Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is significant moment for nation
- Need prayers that Court upholds marriage’s true meaning and purpose
WASHINGTON—Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage, responded to today’s U. S. Supreme Court decision to hear the case challenging California’s Proposition 8 and a case challenging the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).
“The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to hear these cases is a significant moment for our nation,” Archbishop Cordileone said. “I pray the Court will affirm the fact that the institution of marriage, which is as old as humanity and written in our very nature, is the union of one man and one woman. Marriage is the foundation of a just society, as it protects the most vulnerable among us, children. It is the only institution that unites children with their mothers and fathers together. We pray for the Court, that its deliberations may be guided by truth and justice so as to uphold marriage’s true meaning and purpose,” Archbishop Cordileone said.
In 2008, California voters passed Proposition 8, which defines marriage in California’s State Constitution as the union of one man and one woman. DOMA, passed by Congress and signed into law by President Bill Clinton in 1996, defines marriage as the union of one man and one woman for purposes of federal law. A decision by the Supreme Court is expected by next June. Depending on the Court’s ruling, there could be ramifications for marriage laws throughout the country.
Earlier this week the bishops issued a Call to Prayer for Life, Marriage and Religious Liberty as part of a pastoral response for the protection of life, marriage and liberty. Information is available at www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.
One of the key emphases of this Year of Faith is the New Evangelization, the task of re-kindling the faith in those parts of the world where many people have been baptized but are not living out their faith to the fullest. A year ago in his address to the Pontifical Council for the Family, Pope Benedict XVI explained that the family itself plays a key role in evangelization:
Pope Benedict XVI: The family founded on the Sacrament of Marriage is a particular realization of the Church, saved and saving, evangelized and evangelizing community. Just like the Church, it is called to welcome, radiate and show the world the love and presence of Christ. The reception and transmission of divine love are realized in the mutual commitment of the spouses, in generous and responsible procreation, in the care and education of children, work and social relationships, with attention to the needy, in participation in church activities, in commitment to civil society. The Christian Family to the extent it succeeds in living love as communion and service as a reciprocal gift open to all, as a journey of permanent conversion supported by the grace of God, reflects the splendour of Christ in the world and the beauty of the divine Trinity. St Augustine has a famous phrase: “immo vero vides Trinitatem, si caritatem vides” — “Well, if you see charity, yes indeed you see the Trinity” (De Trinitate, VIII, 8). And the family is one of the fundamental places where you live and are educated in love and charity.
Breaking News: U.S. Bishops Launch Pastoral Strategy for Rebuilding a Culture of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty
The USCCB announced today that the U.S. bishops are calling all of the Catholic faithful to join a nationwide movement of prayer, penance, and sacrifice for the intention of renewing a culture of life, marriage, and religious liberty. Set to begin the Sunday after Christmas (Holy Family Sunday), the movement will include monthly holy hours, daily rosaries, prayers of the faithful at Mass, and Friday fasting and abstinence from meat. It will also include a second Fortnight for Freedom in late June and early July 2013. The Fortnight is timed to closely anticipate the August 1, 2013 deadline for Catholic organizations to comply with the unjust HHS mandate, and to offer prayers for potential Supreme Court rulings on marriage in June 2013. Resources for this exciting movement of prayer can be found at www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty. We here at Marriage: Unique for a Reason will also keep you updated.
USCCB News Release (December 6, 2012):
BISHOPS URGE CATHOLICS TO PRAY FOR LIFE, MARRIAGE, RELIGIOUS LIBERTY
- Not another program but part of a movement for life, marriage and religious liberty
- Invitation to ‘prayer and penance,’ Archbishop Cordileone says
- Second Fortnight for Freedom June/July being planned
WASHINGTON—The U.S. Catholic bishops have launched a pastoral strategy addressing critical life, marriage and religious liberty concerns. The five-part strategy or call to prayer was approved by the bishops in November and is set to begin after Christmas. The overall focus is to invite Catholics to pray for rebuilding a culture favorable to life and marriage and for increased protections of religious liberty.
Campaign components include monthly Eucharistic holy hours in cathedrals and parishes, daily family rosary, special Prayers of the Faithful at all Masses, fasting and abstinence on Fridays, and the second observance of a Fortnight for Freedom.
The call to prayer is prompted by the rapid social movements and policy changes currently underway, such as the mandate by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that coerces employers, including heads of religious agencies, to pay for sterilizations, abortion-inducing drugs and contraceptives, as well as increased efforts to redefine marriage.
“The pastoral strategy is essentially a call and encouragement to prayer and sacrifice—it’s meant to be simple,” said Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone of San Francisco, chairman of the bishops’ Subcommittee for the Promotion and Defense of Marriage. “It’s not meant to be another program but rather part of a movement for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, which engages the New Evangelization and can be incorporated into the Year of Faith. Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty are not only foundational to Catholic social teaching but also fundamental to the good of society,” he said.
Details of the strategy follow:
1. Starting with the Sunday after Christmas (Feast of the Holy Family) and continuing on or near the last Sunday of every month through Christ the King Sunday, November 2013, cathedrals and parishes are encouraged to hold a Eucharistic Holy Hour for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty.
2. Families and individuals are encouraged to pray a daily Rosary, especially for the preservation of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty in the nation.
3. At Sunday and daily Masses, it is encouraged that the Prayers of the Faithful include specific intentions for respect for all human life from conception to natural death, the strengthening of marriage and family life, and the preservation of religious liberty at all levels of government, both at home and abroad.
4. Abstinence from meat and fasting on Fridays are encouraged for the intention of the protection of Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty, recognizing the importance of spiritual and bodily sacrifice in the life of the Church.
5. The celebration of a second Fortnight for Freedom at the end of June and the beginning of July 2013 is being planned. This Fortnight would emphasize faith and marriage in a particular way in the face of the potential Supreme Court rulings during this time. The Fortnight would also emphasize the need for conscience protection in light of the August 1, 2013 deadline for religious organizations to comply with the HHS mandate, as well as religious freedom concerns in other areas, such as immigration, adoption, and humanitarian services.
A website with resources from the USCCB is available at: www.usccb.org/life-marriage-liberty.
“With the challenges this country is facing, it is hoped that this call to prayer and penance will help build awareness among the faithful as well as spiritual stamina and courage for effective witness. We also hope that it will encourage solidarity with all people who are standing for the precious gifts of life, marriage, and religious liberty,” Archbishop Cordileone said.
Today’s Sunday Pope Quote from a letter Pope Leo XIII sent to the bishops of Peru in 1898. In the letter, Pope Leo reminds the bishops that no human law can change the meaning of marriage, which is established by God. At the same time, civil law can regulate what are often called the “civil effects” of marriage: the rights and duties given to married couples in light of their role in society. The Pope also speaks eloquently of the many fruits of the sacrament of marriage.
Pope Leo XIII: We are concerned about the whole Christian flock, as Our apostolic duties require, for We have given frequent instruction concerning the sanctity of marriage. Jesus Christ, the author of the new covenant, translated the duty of nature into sacraments, and this duty cannot be divorced from religion and immersed in worldly [affairs]. Preceded by sacred rite, it can bring about a more tranquil and happy life for the spouses, strengthen family harmony, raise children more correctly, and suitably provide for the welfare of its community. Indeed, We have treated this matter in greater detail in Our apostolic letter Arcanum divinae sapientiae consilium. In that letter We wanted to remind the faithful of the vigilant cares which the Church has shown for preserving the honor and sanctity of marriage, for the Church is the best guardian and avenger of mankind. We also reminded the civil authorities of what matters they could rightfully regulate. It is not necessary for Us to bring each of these examples to your attention. It is, however, relevant to mention again that the leaders of the state have authority in human affairs which led to marriage and generally concern civil matters. However, in the truly Christian marriage, they have no authority, for this matter should be left to the jurisdiction of the Church, which is not established by men.
-Quam religiosa, no. 4 (August 16, 1898), emphasis added