I was very happy to once again cover the ground demonstrating that the current push to redefine marriage is only the latest in a continuum of assaults on marriage. We also talked about what we can do to stem the tide of marital perversions. The most important thing we can do is to joyfully and faithfully live our married lives. We need to project an infectious glee so that those around us say, "I want whatever they have." And what we have are marriages based on God's natural law.
"Preach the Gospel always. Use words if necessary." This quote is attributed to St. Francis of Assisi. The challenge is to discern when words are necessary. Friends and relatives are cohabitating. These couples often fully intend to get married and sees no problem with jumping the gun and moving in together now that they are engaged. They do not recognize how they are making a mockery of marriage by living as if they are married without the benefit of the sacrament. I often keep silent. I do pray for them a lot. I pray that the priests who are doing their marriage preparations have the courage to address the moral peril of their choices. I pray that the parents can look past the pretty white dress and the grand celebration to the real meaning of the matrimony and counsel them accordingly. And I pray that they see the damage they do to their marriage by cohabitating first. Those who cohabitate before marriage significantly increase their risk of divorce. Marriage is about so much more than just loving each other. It is about loving each other in the service of God. Flouting His law is no way to serve Him. Why debase the beginning of your marriage with sin?
After all that I trust the Holy Spirit to enlighten them and pray that their hearts are open to receive wisdom.
Some may think that is a wimpy way to go. I can use my words with my own children. I can offer my words to readers. But sometimes, my words are wholly inadequate and would only sound like scolding in a setting where I have no standing to scold. Prayer is powerful. Imagine what would happen if we all joined our voices in earnest prayer for those couples who choose to cohabitate. In the words of Pope Leo XIII, written in his encyclical Arcanum:
We well know that none should be excluded from Our charity, We commend, venerable brothers, to your fidelity and piety those unhappy persons who, carried away by the heat of passion, and being utterly indifferent to their salvation, live wickedly together without the bond of lawful marriage. Let your utmost care be exercised in bringing such persons back to their duty; and, both by your own efforts and by those of good men who will consent to help you, strive by every means that they may see how wrongly they have acted; that they may do penance; and that they may be induced to enter into a lawful marriage according to the Catholic rite.