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Friday Fast: for those facing religious persecution

Posted Aug. 8, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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Intention: For the intercession of the saints to fortify and encourage all those facing religious persecution.

Reflection: Today we celebrate the feast of St. Edith Stein, who was born into a Jewish family in 1891 in what is now Wroclaw, Poland. During her studies in philosophy, she encountered the writings of the great Carmelite mystic, St. Teresa of Avila, who inspired her conversion to Catholicism in 1922. In 1933, she joined the Carmelite Order, taking the name Teresa Benedicta of the Cross.

Edith faced significant adversity during her early years in religious life. Recognizing the risk she presented to her fellow sisters during World War II because of her Jewish background, Edith left for Holland and entered the Carmel of Echt. Edith, however, was captured by Nazis and later taken to Auschwitz, where she died in the gas chambers on August 9, 1942.

St. Edith Stein stands as a profound witness for all who seek to live for the truth. Let us recall her words spoken just a few days before her death: “If I cannot share the lot of my brothers and sisters, my life, in a certain sense, is destroyed.” We pray ardently for the grace to stand courageously in the face of religious persecution.

Did you know? Last year, Pope Benedict XVI told the diplomatic corps that even in today’s time, “In many countries, Christians are deprived of fundamental rights…; in other countries they endure violent attacks against their churches and their homes. At times they are forced to leave the countries they have helped to build because of persistent tensions and policies which frequently relegate them to being second-class spectators of national life.”  Read more about current threats to international religious freedom.

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Friday Fast: For grandparents

Posted Jul. 26, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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Intention: For grandparents, that they may be cherished by their families as they continue to witness to fidelity, love, and sacrifice.

Reflection: Today is the feast day of St. Joachim and St. Anne, the parents of Mary and grandparents of Jesus. In 2008, Pope Benedict XVI said that grandparents are “witnesses of a personal and community history” that continues “to live on in their memories and in their wisdom.”

More quotes from Benedict’s talk on grandparents:

“Who does not remember their grandparents? Who can forget their presence and their witness by the domestic hearth? How many of us bear their names as a sign of continuity and gratitude!”

“May grandparents return to being a living presence in the family, in the Church and in society. With regard to the family, may grandparents continue to be witnesses of unity, of values founded on fidelity and of a unique love that gives rise to faith and the joy of living.”

“In the face of the crisis of the family, might it not be possible to set out anew precisely from the presence and witness of these people – grandparents – whose values and projects are more resilient?”

Did you know? The next video in the Marriage: Unique for a Reason series is a Spanish-language video called “El Matrimonio: Hecho para el amor y la vida” (“Marriage: Made for Love and Life”). In the video, grandparents Hector and Rosa, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary, gently help their grandson Miguel and his girlfriend Maria see the beauty of lifelong married love between a husband and wife. Go here to watch a trailer of “El Matrimonio” (with a dual-language script).

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Sunday Pope Quote: Pope Benedict's Advice to Engaged Couples

Posted Jun. 2, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

Summer is wedding season! Today’s Sunday Pope Quote is a piece of advice Pope Benedict XVI gave to a group of engaged couples in September 2011 during a pastoral visit to Ancona, Italy.

Pope Benedict XVI: Fidelity, indissolubility and the transmission of life are the pillars of every family, the true common good, a precious patrimony of society as a whole. From now on found your journey towards marriage on these pillars and witness to this among your peers, too: such a service is precious!

- Address during Meeting with Young Couples in Ancona, Italy (September 11, 2001)

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Friday Fast: Pray and Fast for Engaged Couples

Posted May. 31, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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Intention: For engaged couples, that their time of preparation for marriage may be richly blessed as they prepare to give themselves fully and irrevocably to each other as a sign of Christ’s love for His Church.

Reflection: In September 2011, Pope Benedict XVI gave the following pieces of advice to engaged couples in Ancona, Italy:

“As engaged couples, you find yourselves living a unique season that opens you to the wonder of the encounter and enables you to discover the beauty of existence and of being precious to someone, of being able to say to each other: you are important to me. Live this journey intensely, gradually and truthfully. Do not give up following a high ideal of love, a reflection and testimony of God’s love!”

“Dear friends, all human love is a sign of the eternal Love that created us and whose grace sanctifies the decision made by a man and a woman to give each other reciprocal life in marriage. Live the period of your engagement in the trusting expectation of this gift.”

“Fidelity, indissolubility and the transmission of life are the pillars of every family, the true common good, a precious patrimony of society as a whole. From now on found your journey towards marriage on these pillars and witness to this among your peers, too: such a service is precious!”

Did you know? As the summer “wedding season” begins, take a look at the many resources on the USCCB website For Your Marriage for engaged couples: blessings and prayers for engaged couples, 10 tips for planning a Catholic wedding, FAQs for engaged couples, and a directory of marriage preparation resources. These are great pages to share with family and friends who are tying the knot this summer!

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Sunday Pope Quote: Benedict XVI on Saint Bridget of Sweden

Posted May. 5, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

In 2010 Pope Benedict XVI gave a conference at a General Audience on Saint Bridget of Sweden, because “this holy woman has much to teach the Church and the world.” A married woman, she reflected sanctity in her domestic life. Forming families is something that can truly make us holy.

Pope Benedict XVI: “We can distinguished two periods in this Saint’s life.

“The first was characterized by her happily married state. Her husband was called Ulf and he was Governor of an important district of the Kingdom of Sweden. The marriage lasted for 28 years, until Ulf’s death. Eight children were born, the second of whom, Karin (Catherine), is venerated as a Saint. This is an eloquent sign of Bridget’s dedication to her children’s education. Moreover, King Magnus of Sweden so appreciated her pedagogical wisdom that he summoned her to Court for a time, so that she could introduce his young wife, Blanche of Namur, to Swedish culture. Bridget, who was given spiritual guidance by a learned religious who initiated her into the study of the Scriptures, exercised a very positive influence on her family which, thanks to her presence, became a true “domestic church”. Together with her husband she adopted the Rule of the Franciscan Tertiaries. She generously practiced works of charity for the poor; she also founded a hospital. At his wife’s side Ulf’s character improved and he advanced in the Christian life. On their return from a long pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela, which they made in 1341 with other members of the family, the couple developed a project of living in continence; but a little while later, in the tranquility of a monastery to which he had retired, Ulf’s earthly life ended. This first period of Bridget’s life helps us to appreciate what today we could describe as an authentic “conjugal spirituality”: together, Christian spouses can make a journey of holiness sustained by the grace of the sacrament of Marriage. It is often the woman, as happened in the life of St Bridget and Ulf, who with her religious sensitivity, delicacy and gentleness succeeds in persuading her husband to follow a path of faith. I am thinking with gratitude of the many women who, day after day, illuminate their families with their witness of Christian life, in our time too. May the Lord’s Spirit still inspire holiness in Christian spouses today, to show the world the beauty of marriage lived in accordance with the Gospel values: love, tenderness, reciprocal help, fruitfulness in begetting and in raising children, openness and solidarity to the world and participation in the life of the Church.”

- Pope Benedict XVI, General Audience, October 27, 2010 (emphasis added)

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Sunday Pope Quote: Sede Vacante

Posted Mar. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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At 8:00 p.m. Italian time on Thursday, February 18, Pope Benedict XVI concluded his pontificate and the Church entered a time of “Sede Vacante,” the time in between the end of one pontificate and the election of a new pope. For helpful materials on the Sede Vacante, please see this USCCB resource page.

Thank you, Pope Benedict, for your leadership of the Church during your eight years as pope! In a particular way, thank you for your consistent and courageous teaching on the meaning of marriage. You have given the Church a wealth of insight on what marriage is and why it matters to the world.

Please visit the Church Teaching page and click on Pope Benedict XVI to see a selection of the many, many addresses, speeches, and exhortations on marriage by our now-Pope Emeritus, such as:

“God created us male and female, equal in dignity, but also with respective and complementary characteristics, so that the two might be a gift for each other, might value each other and might bring into being a community of love and life.” – Homily at the closing mass of the 7th World Meeting of Families in Milan (June 3, 2012)

“Dear friends, all human love is a sign of the eternal Love that created us and whose grace sanctifies the decision made by a man and a woman to give each other reciprocal life in marriage. Live the period of your engagement in the trusting expectation of this gift.” – Address to engaged couples (Sept. 11, 2011)

“Marriage has a truth of its own – that is, the human knowledge, illumined by the Word of God, of the sexually different reality of the man and of the woman with their profound needs for complementarity, definitive self-giving and exclusivity – to whose discovery and deepening reason and faith harmoniously contribute.” – Address to Members of the Tribunal of the Roman Rota (Jan. 27, 2007)

 We will continue to share Pope Benedict’s wisdom about marriage, the human person, and the family here on Marriage: Unique for a Reason. Thank you, Holy Father Emeritus.

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Friday Fast for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty (#3)

Posted Feb. 22, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason No comments yet

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This week’s intention and reflection:

Intention: For the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the selection of the next Holy Father: that the next pope may be granted wisdom and strength in leading the faithful into deeper relationship with Christ, that through our own continual conversion, we may witness to the sanctity of all human life through our words and actions.

Reflection: Today is the feast of the Chair of Saint Peter the Apostle. In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus names Peter the rock and foundation of his Church and declares that “the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it.” As we await the transition of a new pope, the successor of St. Peter, let us pray for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, trusting in the Lord’s Providence, and thankful for the pastoral care of Pope Benedict XVI over the last eight years. He has consistently presented the invitation of Christ to each of us as to an ever deeper and more personal friendship with Himself, a friendship which is transformative:  “Christians are people who have been conquered by Christ’s love and, accordingly, under the influence of that love… they are profoundly open to loving their neighbor in concrete ways. This attitude arises primarily from the consciousness of being loved, forgiven, and even served by the Lord, who bends down to wash the feet of the Apostles and offers himself on the Cross to draw humanity into God’s love” (Pope Benedict XVI, Message for Lent 2013). Let us then continue our Lenten journey faithfully, responding to the Lord’s tender love and allowing Him to transform us, that we may bring His light to the world, witnessing to the sanctity of each human life.

Did you know? Pope Benedict XVI recently linked respect for life with peace: “The path to the attainment of the common good and to peace is above all that of respect for human life in all its many aspects, beginning with its conception, through its development and up to its natural end. True peacemakers, then, are those who love, defend and promote human life in all its dimensions, personal, communitarian and transcendent. Life in its fullness is the height of peace. Anyone who loves peace cannot tolerate attacks and crimes against life.”

 

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Sunday Pope Quote: Pope Benedict XVI on conversion and the challenge of being faithful to marriage

Posted Feb. 17, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

Today’s Sunday Pope Quote comes from the next-to-last Wednesday audience of Pope Benedict XVI, given on Ash Wednesday, February 13, 2013. As reported by Vatican Radio, thousands of pilgrims in excess of the 3500 ticket-holders gathered to hear the Holy Father’s words, given two days after his surprising announcement that he would “renounce the ministry of the Bishop of Rome” on February 28, 2013. In his remarks, Pope Benedict reflected on the meaning of conversion, a traditional Lenten theme, and on what it means to live as a Christian in today’s society.

Pope Benedict XVI: “Today we can no longer be Christians as a simple consequence of the fact that we live in a society that has Christian roots: even those born to a Christian family and formed in the faith must, each and every day, renew the choice to be a Christian, to give God first place, before the temptations continuously suggested by a secularized culture, before the criticism of many of our contemporaries.

“The tests which modern society subjects Christians to, in fact, are many, and affect the personal and social life. It is not easy to be faithful to Christian marriage, practice mercy in everyday life, leave space for prayer and inner silence, it is not easy to publicly oppose choices that many take for granted, such as abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy, euthanasia in case of serious illness, or the selection of embryos to prevent hereditary diseases. The temptation to set aside one’s faith is always present and conversion becomes a response to God which must be confirmed several times throughout one’s life.”

- Wednesday audience (Feb. 13, 2013), Vatican radio translation

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National Marriage Week: Friday Fast for Life, Marriage, and Religious Liberty

Posted Feb. 8, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

The U.S. bishops are promoting a pastoral strategy of prayer, penance, and fasting with the goal of rebuilding a culture of life and marriage and protecting religious liberty. One of five components of the pastoral strategy is an invitation to fast and abstain from meat on Fridays from now until November 24, 2013 (the Feast of Christ the King).

You can sign the pledge to fast on Fridays by visiting www.usccb.org/fast.

You can sign up at the same page for email reminders and a weekly intention and reflection. Or you can text “FAST” to 99000 to receive weekly text reminders.

This weeks’ intention and reflection

Intention: For a greater reverence for the gift of marriage and family in our nation and for the healing of those suffering from troubled or broken marriages, especially children. (Written by Bishop Kevin Rhoades, Fort Wayne-South Bend, Chairman of USCCB Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life, and Youth)

Reflection: February 7-14 is National Marriage Week, a collaborative effort to strengthen individual marriages, reduce the divorce rate, and build a stronger culture of marriage. In an address to Latin American and Caribbean bishops in 2011, Pope Benedict XVI lauded precisely this kind of marriage-building initiative: “No effort is therefore wasted in promoting anything that can help to ensure that each family, founded on the indissoluble union between a man and a woman, accomplishes its mission of being a living cell of society, a nursery of virtues, a school of constructive and peaceful coexistence, an instrument of harmony and a privileged environment in which human life is welcomed and protected, joyfully and responsibly, from its beginning until its natural end.”

Did you know? Strong marriages and families benefit society in numerous ways. A USCCB review of research on the benefits generated from families rooted in marriage can be found here: “Marriage and the Family in the United States: Resources for Society.”

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Sunday Pope Quote: Benedict XVI on the Church's "yes" to marriage

Posted Feb. 3, 2013 by Marriage Unique for a Reason 1 comment

Pope Benedict XVI continues to speak and preach about marriage, giving us ample wise words to reflect on. Today’s Pope Quote comes from a recent papal address (January 19, 2013) given to the participants in the plenary meeting of the pontifical council Cor Unum. In this address, the Holy Father lays out two visions of the human person, and of what brings happiness. In doing so, he shows how intimately connected marriage is with what it means to be human, particularly man’s social nature.

Pope Benedict XVI: “The Christian vision of man is, in fact, a great ‘yes’ to the dignity of persons called to an intimate filial communion of humility and faithfulness. The human being is not a self-sufficient individual nor an anonymous element in the group. Rather he is a unique and unrepeatable person, intrinsically ordered to relationships and sociability. Thus the Church reaffirms her great ‘yes’ to the dignity and beauty of marriage as an expression of the faithful and generous bond between man and woman, and her no to ‘gender’ philosophies, because the reciprocity between male and female is an expression of the beauty of nature willed by the Creator.”

- Address (January 19, 2013), emphasis added