Three related observances are happening this week:
National Marriage Week (Feb 7-14): This week draws our attention to the beauty of marriage. The theme selected by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for National Marriage Week 2022 is “Called to the Joy of Love,” referring to Pope Francis’2016 Encyclical on the family Amoris Laetitia. The theme was chosen to highlight the many ways that married couples and families are accompanied by the Church to live out the call of love. National Marriage Week was started to honor husbands and wives for their never-ending sacrifices and faithfulness that hold these unions together.
World Marriage Day (Feb 13): began in Baton Rouge, Louisiana in 1981 and grew out of the experience of couples engaged in the “Worldwide Marriage Encounter,” a movement founded in Spain — “Encuentro Conyugal” — by the late Father Gabriel Calvo (1927-2021), who devoted his entire priestly ministry (1952-2021) to the pastoral care of married couples and families. “There is within each couple,” he reflected, “a divine energy of love. It has to be released by a deep sharing between husband and wife, through the communication of their feelings and of the whole of their lives together. It cannot be done in just one moment.” Pope St. John Paul II imparted his apostolic blessing to “World Marriage Day” in 1993.
Valentine’s Day (Feb 14): One of the most romantic days of the year, Valentine’s Day, has a Catholic connection. Saint Valentine, officially known as Saint Valentine of Rome, is a third-century Roman saint widely celebrated on February 14 and commonly associated with “courtly love.” One of the many legends about him, says that he refused to sacrifice to pagan gods, was imprisoned and while imprisoned he healed the jailer’s blind daughter. On the day of his execution, he left the girl a note signed, “Your Valentine.” His feast day came to be dedicated to love, and people observed it by writing love letters and sending gifts to their beloved.
These three observances invite us to promote marriage and love. We know that the number of marriages have fallen drastically in recent decades due to cultural and attitudinal changes. While the Catholic church is at the forefront of promoting marriage and family, I was happily surprised to find great support for the same from certain unexpected quarters:
Time Magazine: “…We should provide the facts about the importance of marriage as a matter of child welfare and economic aspiration. As a society, we have launched highly effective public education campaigns on much less momentous issues, from smoking to recycling… For now, the decline of marriage is our most ignored national crisis…”
Fox News: “The Brookings Institution says that if we had the marriage rate today that we had in 1970, there would be a 25 percent drop in poverty. The Heritage
Foundation says that marriage drops the probability of a child living in poverty by 82 percent.”
Newsweek Magazine: “National Marriage Week presents a chance to focus on rebuilding a culture of marriage for this generation.”
May such support for marriage and family spread more and more. As we appreciate and encourage all our married couples, we pray for God’s blessings to enable them to continue the path of love and unity despite the many challenges they face.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal