National Marriage WeekTuesday 6th February 2018
‘Love is in the air’ was number 5 in the charts way back in 1977. Love certainly was in the air when Carlo Elorriaga and Paula Ruiz were married by Pope Francis on board his plane during his recent visit to Chile. Pope Francis told them ‘I hope this motivates couples to marry.’
This week, leading to St. Valentine’s Day on Wednesday 14th, is National Marriage Week. This year’s theme is ‘Think Ahead!’ Couples are invited to take some time to reflect on their marriage and make some simple plans to strengthen their married life.
Marriage Foundation, www.marriage-week.org.uk suggest five areas; Marriage and Family, Fun, Home, Work, Finances. A discussion, as a couple, or family, can help identify some realistic steps to fulfilling your dreams! You can even share them on #plan5for5!
As a priest I have lost count of the number of weddings I have celebrated over the last 28 years. The privilege has never been simply presiding at the ceremony, but also getting to know the couples in the months leading up to the wedding. Pope Francis speaks of ‘accompaniment.’ We ‘accompany’ couples as they plan the wedding day and, in so doing, invite them not simply to plan their perfect wedding day but to reflect on the married life they embark upon.
Regardless of how long a couple have been together already, entering into the bond of marriage adds something distinctive – it makes a difference. There is a public statement of love, of commitment and, when possible, of openness to new life. What the couple give and receive from each other is, quite simply yet wonderfully, themselves, wholly, faithfully, without preconditions or a time-limit.
And, for that reason, marriage provides both a particularly strong environment of stability and, at the same time, a powerful witness to the primacy of love, a love which ultimately points to God, who is Love Itself.
Sadly not all marriages work out. If you value your marriage, never be afraid to seek help at the earliest sign of tensions. MarriageCare and Relate can offer you skilled support. Strained relationships can be helped and healed; good marriages can be made even better!
‘Love is in the air…. It’s something I must believe in!’ But love is lived out down here on the ground in the ordinary and every day. Invest in your marriage; plan 5 for 5 this Marriage Week and beyond.
Fr. Paul Daly is Parish Priest of Our Lady and St. Joseph’s, Heywood, and Episcopal Vicar for Formation in the Diocese of Salford
This article was first written for publication in the Manchester Weekly News on 8th February 2018.