Marriage & Family Life continue to be two of the most vital foundation stones on which society and the Church are built.
Until comparatively recently accepting this truth was easy. Most women and men got married; they then had their children; the vast majority made a success of their family lives, not without problems of course and at times with great sacrifice.
We live in a different society, and a different Church, today.
- Many couples choose to live together. Some of them have their children and then decide to get married or not
- Many marriages break up for various reasons. Some of the people involved in break-up marry again.
- Most couples still get married but it is no longer taken for granted that they will marry in Church. There are couples, even with connections with the Church, who get married in a registry office or an hotel; many others in the Church.
- And we are now faced with the question of same sex marriage. This is a question that was unheard of until very recently but it is an important question that has implications for all of us.
All of these changes in adult relationships give rise to a great variety of family combinations.
- There are married couples with children
- There are cohabiting couples with children
- There are lone parents with children, some married but separated or divorced or bereaved, and some not married
- There are married couples who don’t have children
- There are divorced and remarried couples with children, often with each person bringing children of their own into the new family and then having children together
- There are single people who never had children and who live alone or maybe with siblings
- There are same sex couples, some with children and some not
This list is not exhaustive of the possible combinations of family life that is in our society and Church today. All this rapid change in people’s lives has serious implications for both Church and State. The State responds to these mostly through legislation and often with very little reflection on the effects they are having on family and society. We too, as the Church, need to respond to them. Our response has to be one filled with love and respect while keeping an eye on how the Church legislation can change to meet the new realities.
We have some vital faith values that need to be lived out here.
- The dignity of every human person
- Every family, whatever its combination, is a sacred place where Christ lives
- The marriage of a woman and man who choose to get married in and into the Church is one of the seven Sacraments and is due very particular respect and support from all of us
- As Catholics we are in communion with the Universal Church, the Regional Church, the Diocese, and the Parish, and we take our lead from this Communion
- We can only deal with the complexity of today’s Church and world when we bring it into prayer especially as parish communities where people live their lives
The Movement of Continuous Prayer for Marriage and Family Life This is offered to parishes as a practical way of prayer. The rest of this Information Booklet explains in detail what is involved.
This Movement was started on December 1st, 1998 by Fr. Johnny Doherty, C.Ss.R. as part of Love is for Life Trust’s support for Marriage and Family Life.
Initially there were 31 groups most of them in various parts of Ireland with a few in England and Scotland, each taking a date in the month to pray for the twenty four hours. This was made possible by each group having at least 24 people, each of whom took an hour of prayer.
Since then this movement has spread to other countries, notably Sweden, America, Australia, Brazil, Poland, and Norway. Our hope is that we could have people in every parish taking a day pf prayer each month to support and encourage the love of husbands and wives, parents and children of all ages, to build their homes and families into places of the real presence of God through their love for each other and through the support of each other as faith communities. We would also hope that this can then become continuous prayer within each Diocese as more parishes take it on.