Strong Marriage Preparation Affirms Gospel of Life

It has been my experience in my roles both as pastor and as president of HLI that most married couples are ill-prepared for the sacramental life they are called to live in Christ. There are a number of reasons for this unfortunate reality.

Foremost, parents and the Church have failed to form souls to love God and his commands. In most cases, the faith has not been passed forward to the next generation as our Lord commands (Deut 6:4ff), bringing us to this current crisis within the Church and society. As a result, the Culture of Death has made great strides in corrupting the intentions of many adults seeking marriage because they do not comprehend the core requirements of fidelity, exclusivity, permanence, and fruitfulness within the marital union. In many cases their experience of sacramental marriage is limited or non-existent.

Because of the high rate of divorce, many young adults seeking marriage – or even those discerning a vocation to the priesthood – come from broken homes, which affects their understanding of sacramental marriage and family life as God has constituted. There are also a very high percentage of young adults engaged in premarital sex, exhibiting and worsening their misunderstanding of sexuality. Moreover, many couples approaching the Church are cohabitating as if they’re married. When – and if they do marry – they are more likely than ever to marry outside their faith, as indicated by a recent poll from Pew Research.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, this tragic confusion continues to affect all of us today. Young people are not being raised in the same faith-based culture as many of us received from our grandparents and parents. We cannot compare the preparation of couples of that generation to the drastically needed preparation of couples today. If we are going to reclaim a proper understanding of natural marriage, then we must challenge and confront the ideology and environment in which our youth are being raised. We must lovingly and firmly assist them to live their duty and responsibility in Christ and to strive for holiness in their vocation.

It is true that several dioceses have designed robust marriage preparation programs, and bishops have raised standards for those who hope to be married in the Church. Unfortunately, however, many marriage preparation programs are inadequate, as they are not focused on assisting the couple to faithfully live out their vocation. Instead of focusing on marriage, many couples focus exclusively on the details of the wedding: the bridal attire, flowers, and banquet.

Catholic bishops and priests around the world must take seriously this responsibility to prepare young couples for a sacramental life in Christ. If we can reclaim this, then we can change the future! Children raised in homes open to life are more likely to receive the proper formation they need; and these same children will influence the culture around them and transform it as they become husbands and wives, religious, and priests. If we do not see the larger picture—the serious crisis in front of us that we must address—then divorces will continue, the number of cohabiting and same-sex couples will increase, and a childless society will usher in the death of traditional and natural societies around the world.

Finally, we must recognize that for many of those approaching the Church hoping to marry are not ready. We must be proactive in promoting chastity programs for young people. We must, as the Church faithful, claim the duty and responsibility to assist souls. This is the work of Human Life International, which began with Fr. Paul Marx’s vision to defend life, faith and family.

Therefore, pray that our bishops and priests will engage these issues and proactively support them whenever you can. Please pray for the success of HLI’s efforts to defend faith, life, and family. Finally, pray for a deeper love of God’s gift of natural marriage as the lifetime and faithful union of one man and one woman open to the transmission of life—and love.



About Fr. Shenan J. Boquet

Fr. Shenan J. Boquet has served as president of Human Life International since 2011. He was ordained in 1993 as a priest of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Houma-Thibodaux, Louisiana. As HLI’s president, Fr. Boquet collaborates with fellow laborers in the pro-life and family movement in over 80 countries, offering the Sacraments, giving seminars and trainings, appearing on numerous media outlets, and encouraging people of all walks of life to live as faithful advocates for a Culture of Life and Love. He is available for interviews and bookings on behalf of HLI by emailing hli@hli.org.

2 Comments

  1. Ralph Coelho on June 18, 2015 at 7:45 PM

    MARRIAGE
    AND FAMILY

    You
    write that” Unfortunately, however, many marriage preparation programs are
    inadequate, as they are not focused on assisting the couple to faithfully live
    out their vocation”. And then “Catholic bishops and priests around the world
    must take seriously this responsibility to prepare young couples for a
    sacramental life in Christ”. “Finally, we must recognize that for many of those
    approaching the Church hoping to marry are not ready”.

    You
    sum it all up in “We must be proactive in promoting chastity programs for young
    people. We must, as the Church faithful, claim the duty and responsibility to
    assist souls”.

    Why
    do “many couples focus exclusively on the details of the wedding: the bridal
    attire, flowers, and banquet”?

    Marriage
    Preparation originated soon after Vatican II as a priority fro the Church. Many
    popular Family Movements also originated at that time and spread worldwide due
    to the American Evangelical spirit.

    This
    preceded John Paul II’s extensive work on Marriage and the Family and was
    instituted against the completely inadequate response of the clergy to the
    uproar against Humane Vitae, an uproar even encouraged by respected, prominent
    theologians.

    The
    institutional Church did, and still does, little to re-evangelise influential
    dissenters in its own ranks. The simple ones, who are then more easily mislead
    by false Christs, experience the arrogance of silence just as peasants once
    lived with the patronising views of ill informed rich persons.

    I
    believe that it would be more helpful to have internal re-education of the
    clergy. Possibly easier if one first talks to the dissenters on their own
    terms. Where the Israelites were constantly brought back from their acceptance
    of the culture rooted in pagan gods that dominated the society of the lands to
    which they were guided modern man, including priest, subscribe heavily to the
    “truths” of “life sciences” ranging from ubiquitous psychology to heath and
    particularly reproductive health and processes.

    Contemporary
    psychology is based on Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs and Erikson’s Eight Stages
    of Human Development. Both originated in the early forties based on extensive
    studies of historical social developments in urban and semi-urban society and
    particularly the development of the human person in the Family. The entire world
    up to that time and for a few decades after, believed that marriage should only
    be between two person of the opposite sex and society had a responsibility to
    promote and sustain the family because it was a reliable nursery for the
    nurturing and bring up of children to be good citizens. The establishment of
    government-run schools, hospitals, civic amenities, etc are part of the
    response of rulers (Caesar’s) to this innate human duty.

    How
    many psychologists recognise today that psychology and the two foundational charts
    that describe human development are amoralistic as much as they are scientific?
    How many recognise that one scientific hypothesis of the mid-twentieth century,
    David McClelland’s theory of that human beings were basically motivated by the
    desire to affiliate (relate closely with similar persons), achievement (to do
    everything one does well) and Power (the desire to dominate anything in one’s
    environment. He drew heavily on examples from the history of distinct religious
    groups such as the Jews, the Hindus, the American Protestants (Protestant work
    ethic). Possibly the involvement of religious scriptures as a source
    discouraged many from pursuing this theory ; on the other hand the reluctant
    realisation that the motivation for power has driven modern day tyrants and
    financial genius’s validates this theory
    in some ways. Society across the world is today dominated by a “democratic”
    demand, akin to the crowd that chose Barabbas over Jesus, to accept that very
    type of sexual activity, individually or with other persons, is by nature
    right.

    The
    assembled bishop of Vatican II conclude that modern man at that time was
    capable of discerning God’s will and
    established modern man’s self-responsibility to incorporate it in his culture.
    This seemed to conflict with the traditional role of the teacher as a font of
    wisdom and could be the reason why it is not a foundation of catechetical
    teaching and methodology, of parental control.

    A
    revision of Marriage Preparation requires us to go back to the beginning at
    Vatican II and its statements about the family and the domestic church in
    possibly the same spirit that Jesus explained that divorce was wrong.

  2. ravian on June 20, 2015 at 12:43 AM

    +J.M.J.
    Dear Fr. Boquet,
    Thanks for being a priest and providing the Sacraments, and for your article. Marriage preparation is still just one component to be addressed in the face of massive suppression of Church teaching / Catholic education. However, perhaps some things to be looked at include not only the Catechism of the Catholic Church (and Catechism of the Council of Trent, a.k.a. St. Pius V Catechism or Roman Catechism referenced therein on the important focus of marriage of bringing up children for the greater glory of God, to be saints), and the lives of the saints and blesseds including the parents of St. Isidore of Seville, St. Basil the Great, St. Gregory the Great, Blessed Louis and Zelie Martin (parents of St. Therese of Lisieux), and St. Monica (mother of St. Augustine), but also Biblical elements on married women being saved by child bearing (or salvation of married women is through their children, especially in light of Old Testament making both parents account for talking to children about God all day, every day, with responsibility placed most heavily on the mother). Also, Jesus, on the Way of the Cross, told the holy women to weep not for Him, but for themselves and their children. Thanks for your consideration.
    In caritate Christi,
    Mrs. Richard Avian (Carol Avian)

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