The Diocesan Commission for the Family is holding a seminar for all members of Parish Commissions for the Family on Friday, 26th November, 2010, at the Archbishop’s Seminary, Tal-Virtu’ at 6.30pm.  During the seminar, Fr Vince Magri s.j. will speak about the building of an authentic marital and family spirituality. But what exactly is the nature of this spirituality? In what ways does marital love become a basic ingredient to provide unique opportunities for enriching the spirituality of a couple and their family?

To begin with, marriage is a challenge to grow in ‘love’ – more so, to respond untiringly to God’s call to constant love.  In fact, as affirmed in the teachings of the late Pope John Paul II, the family is where we get our first and most important glimpse of the character and quality of God’s love: it is within the family that we first see the building of a bridge between males and females, between younger and older, and between diverse personalities.  In the close-range ‘give and take’ between family members, we learn to model masculine or feminine traits and gifts.  We learn the meaning of compromise, sacrifice and sharing – we learn the real meaning of love, we learn to transcend in the matter of giving and receiving love, most especially through the ‘gift of self’.  In this way, marriage becomes a call to live the love which we are created for, which in itself is a call to holiness. The purpose of marriage is not to give perfect happiness, but to mature the spouses for God’s happiness, which one can only enjoy supremely in heaven.

This is what marital and family spirituality is all about: participating in God’s life and love and sharing it not only within the family, but beyond. While this is certainly a sublime calling, it is not ethereal: in fact it is most tangible, because God’s love is meant to be lived and felt in daily life, by living in accordance to the full truth of the body.  Indeed, the spiritual acts of marriage can include anything from the couple’s sexual encounters, to their washing the dishes together, to one or both of them going out to earn a living for their family. The manner in which the spouses treat one another and the commitments they make to their children and those outside their family are also part of this growing spirituality.  Therefore, the building of an authentic marital and family spirituality, is a maturation process which involves the day-to-day responsibilities that require patience, perseverance and commitment to the union and to the family unit.  In addition, to achieve this goal, both husband and wife must be interested in the faith development of one another and their children and not only support and encourage it, but never become a hindrance to it.

Above all, honouring the marriage covenant and holding marriage as sacred is the first step: although marriage is a sacrament that is received once, the spouses need to invoke the sacrament’s grace constantly, because this is a specific aid from God that helps them to live up to the commitment involved in marital love.  Honouring the marriage covenant has the potential to bring humanity to its most perfect state.  Bearing this in mind, the task of rediscovering and fully living the Christian ideal of marriage and family is no less important than defending it.