On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex “marriage” is a constitutional right. As many of us heard the news, our thoughts immediately turned to our families. What would this mean for our children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews, as well as for future generations?
Indeed, a belief in marriage as a union of one man and one woman who are open to new life goes so deep for many Catholics that it is almost impossible to contemplate a culture and legal system that advance a different model of human flourishing.
We worry that our families will be punished for their religious beliefs. Even worse, we fear they will learn to reject the inconvenient truths of the faith regarding marriage, chastity and the right of every child to be brought into the world through the one-flesh union of their natural parents.
Over 60 years, we have witnessed the sexual revolution consume its victims, from the unborn child in the womb to the children raised in fatherless homes; from the chaste young women discarded by demanding boyfriends to the spouse aching from wounds inflicted by an unfaithful partner.
Now, we have reached a critical threshold. In our nation of laws, the power of the state will be harnessed to demand acceptance of same-sex “marriage” from those who cling to a competing vision of love, marriage and family. As we note in our page-one story, Justice Anthony Kennedy’s majority opinion offered weak and ambiguous language on free-exercise protections for those who dissent from “marriage equality.”
Reacting to the news from the high court, Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia echoed our own resolve when he said the news cannot change the “nature of men and women and the truth of God’s word.” Then he offered solid pastoral guidance: “The task now for believers is to form our own families even more deeply in the love of God and to rebuild a healthy marriage culture, one marriage at a time, from the debris of today’s decision.”
How do we accomplish such a mission? We begin with prayer. We seek God’s intercession on behalf of loved ones and pray for our own conversion of heart. We recover a vision of married love and family life nourished by the Holy Trinity. “The Christian family is a communion of persons, a sign and image of the communion of the Father and the Son in the Holy Spirit. In the procreation and education of children, it reflects the Father’s work of creation. It is called to partake of the prayer and sacrifice of Christ. Daily prayer and the reading of the word of God strengthen it in charity. The Christian family has an evangelizing and missionary task,” states the Catechism of the Catholic Church (2205).
In every age, the faithful are called to embrace the sacrificial love of Jesus Christ and to strive for holiness. During this uncertain time, holy families offer the most effective means to “preserve marriage,” noted Philip Kosloski, a writer and author, in a blog post for the Register. “If our children do not grow up in an environment where they see a shining example of marital love, they will buy into the lies of the world,” Kosloski warned. “We need to dig deep and heal the wounds that are in our marriages before we can heal the wounds in society.”
Kosloski then identified a compelling example of such holiness: Blesseds Louis and Zélie Martin, the parents of St. Thérèse of Lisieux. Five of the couple’s nine children were called to the religious life, and the remaining four died young. “Their example of holiness was so strong that it is very likely many of their children will be raised to the altars for public veneration,” wrote Kosloski.
The Martins’ canonization (on Oct. 18, during the next synod on the family) was announced on June 27, the day after the court handed down its decision. Three months later, the World Meeting of Families will be held in Philadelphia, where families will have a chance to hear Church leaders (including the Pope), activists and pastoral outreach groups offer catechesis on marriage and spiritual and practical guidance to help Catholics address a host of challenges.
This will be a time to learn more about promising initiatives like the Marriage Reality Movement. “The mission of the Marriage Reality Movement is to promote the reality of marriage,” said Bill May, the founder of Catholics for the Common Good and the author of Getting the Marriage Conversation Right: A Guide for Effective Dialogue. “We believe the first step for promoting marriage reality is to reintroduce it to the culture, starting from the beginning,” May said. “We have provided people with tools on how to reframe a conversation to avoid the usual kind of misunderstanding and conflict that regularly happens during conversations about marriage.”
But it won’t be enough to develop such programs. “Our churches also need to welcome refugees from the sexual revolution,” said Russell Moore, the president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, in a statement reacting to the Supreme Court’s ruling.
As Pope Francis calls on Catholics and all people of goodwill to build a culture of encounter with the poor and spiritually wounded, so all of us must respectfully, joyfully and courageously share the truth about marriage as a union of one man and one woman — always showing respect for the inviolate dignity of persons with same-sex attraction.
In his bestselling work The Way, St. Josemaría Escrivá — whose feast day is June 26, the day of the marriage decision — wrote, “These world crises are crises of saints.” The legal ruling we prayed would never come has finally arrived. But we are not alone. Our Lord is with us, as we accompany our families, fellow believers and others yearning to find true love and to be healed. Jesus tells us, “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48).
So let us seek the intercession of those who have gone before us, especially the holy spouses Louis and Zelie Martin, that we might have the firm resolve to witness to the Truth in our marriages, families and engagement with the world.