I keep hearing this radio ad that makes me so sad. It begins with a woman citing all her positive attributes. She is physically fit and attractive, intelligent, financially secure, and professionally successful. But, alas, she has not found the right life partner. Who has time to seek out a relationship with all the demands of a career? The ad answers this dilemma with a plug for a national matchmaker service. It is not an ordinary online dating service. Think of this company as your “recruiting firm for your personal life”.
This makes me sad because it reduces the concept of marriage to the equivalent of finding a good accountant. If you can’t take time away from your job to find a relationship, what makes you think you will make time to nurture a relationship? Careers are wonderful pursuits, but careers will not get you to Heaven. Discerning God’s call for your personal vocation leads you to Heaven. Your career must fit within that vocation.
The divorce rate among Catholics mirrors the general population. Perhaps this would not be so if we did a better job of emphasizing the concept of marriage as a response to a Divine call. We do not marry simply because it is our preference to marry. We marry because we respond to God’s call to serve Him through the vocation of marriage. It should be a response that is just as deliberate as the response of those called to the priesthood or religious life. It should be undertaken only after serious discernment.
After the wedding, husband and wife must continually recommit themselves and their marriage to God. Family decisions should be accompanied by prayer and the question, “Does this action serve God’s purpose?” Imagine what our communities would look like if this were the driving principle of family behaviors. I know that I have often fallen short of this ideal. I also know that my pre-Cana classes did not teach this concept. It was only many years into my marriage that I realized God was calling my family to a communal holiness as well as calling me to an individual holiness. This is what Pope John Paul II addressed when he used the term “Domestic Church”. I would like to see more words from the pulpit about the formation and sustenance of the “Domestic Church”. Perhaps if more couples thought about their marriage as a Divinely inspired vocation, rather than merely an earthly occupation, we would see a precipitous decline in the divorce rate.