The devil hates marriage. The devil in fact hates all of us because we are made in the image and likeness of God. However, the devil especially hates marriage because marriage is a particularly beautiful reflection of God’s own love for his people, and marriage is the setting for God to create new life in his image. St. Peter tells us, “Be sober and vigilant. Your opponent the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, steadfast in faith” (1 Peter 5:8-9). When the devil first tempted Eve, his goal was to turn Adam and Eve against each other, which also turned them against God. There is a spiritual battle going on between good and evil, and this battle will continue until the Lord comes again. We need to play our part in this battle by praying for the spiritual protection of our families, and by praying for our young people whom God is calling to the great vocation of marriage.
There is a prayer for families by Pope Francis that the Knights of Columbus have promoted over the past several years. I hope we can all say this prayer at least one time this week. Going forward, may we all remember to keep families and engaged couples in our prayers. Many of our good people have been called by God to pray for seminarians and priests. Thanks to their prayers, we have been given many vocations to the priesthood, especially in this diocese. However, I believe that God is also calling our prayer warriors to pray for couples who are getting married. Having and forming a family is one of the most concrete ways to leave a spiritual legacy in the world, but it is no small task.
Pope Saint John Paul II laid the foundation during his pontificate for both a renewal in our seminary formation and in our understanding of the sacrament of marriage. For many years, he taught the world about the theology of the body: how our bodies are an expression of our personhood and of God’s plan for our lives. We are a pilgrim Church on earth, meaning that we have a long way to go before we are perfect. Our seminaries and marriage preparation programs will never be perfect. However, we know that God provides for all of our needs. Let us commit ourselves to praying for our married couples and to supporting them in any way we can. I thank God today for the gift of all of our parish families who are great witnesses to love and generosity through the grace of God.
Prayer to the Holy Family
Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, in you we contemplate the splendor of true love; to you we turn with trust. Holy Family of Nazareth, grant that our families too may be places of communion and prayer, authentic schools of the Gospel and small domestic churches. Holy Family of Nazareth, may families never again experience violence, rejection and division; may all who have been hurt or scandalized find ready comfort and healing. Holy Family of Nazareth, make us once more mindful of the sacredness and inviolability of the family, and its beauty in God’s plan. Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, graciously hear our prayer. Amen.
Prayer composed by Pope Francis and offered on the feast of the Holy Family, Dec. 29, 2013.