Catholic Medical Quarterly Volume 65(4) November 2015

Marriage and Family Life

The Vocation of Marriage from the perspective of the Catholic Church

Nicholas and Annalies Clovis.

Clovis couple


This is the text  from  a presentation on Marriage given by  a young couple. While it is not strictly medical,  the fundamental  importance of marriage is that  it has profound health  benefits throughout society, and should therefore inform our work  with  married people.[Ed]



To start, let’s look at what the words ‘Vocation’ and ‘Marriage’ mean.

What is a ‘Vocation’?

Family1The word “vocation” has its roots in the Latin word vocare, which means “to call”. A vocation is a calling. The Second Vatican Council clearly states that we all have a call to holiness. But within that universal call to holiness, there are two main “states of life”:

  • Marriage
  • Celibacy for the kingdom (priesthood and consecrated or religious life.)

We can rightfully say that both states of life are vocations since both calls ultimately find their origin and their end in God.

What is Marriage?

The Catechism teaches us that Marriage is:

  1. a life-long agreement between a man and a woman
  2. a partnership which is ordered towards the good of the spouses
  3. ordered towards procreation and the education of children

Marriage therefore allows us to answer our call to holiness as taught by the Second Vatican Council (in Lumen Gentium[1]). A sacramental marriage is one which sanctifies, because it attempts to make holy all of its members through God’s Grace.

God created each and every one of us to be saints. This is our first and foremost call in life and for those of us who have a vocation to marriage, it is in marriage that we will answer this call to be saints.

ringsIt is worth stating that a marriage between persons, where one spouse is not baptised, does not benefit in the same way as spouses who are both baptised. This can be taken a step further: to obtain the full effects of a sanctifying marriage, both spouses should be in full communion with the Catholic Church and living in the state of grace.

Marriage: An image and reflection of the Most Holy Trinity

When one is called to the vocation of priesthood, the human person should be transformed into an image and reflection of the humanity of Christ Himself.

In the vocation to marriage, the family should be transformed into an image and reflection of the Most Holy Trinity.

Luisa PiccarretaThis is confirmed in the writings of Luisa Piccarreta, a Little Daughter of the Divine Will and a mystic of the 20th century. Jesus says to her:

 “Marriage was elevated by Me [Jesus] to a Sacrament, in order to place in it a sacred bond, the symbol of the Most Holy Trinity, the divine love which It encloses. So, the love which was to reign in the father, mother and children, the concord, the peace, was to symbolize the Celestial Family. [1]
I was to have on earth as many other families similar to the Family of the Creator, destined to populate the earth like as many terrestrial angels, to then bring them back to populate the Heaven. ”

To the same mystic The Blessed Virgin says regarding the Wedding of Cana:

“My Son [Jesus] took the place of Father and King in the families, and I took the place of Mother and Queen. With Our presence We renewed the sanctity, the beauty, the order of the marriage formed by God in the beginning.”

“Therefore we can establish that marriage is not a purely human institution despite the many variations it may have undergone through the centuries in different cultures, social structures, and spiritual attitudes.” (CCC 1603)

Marriage: God's Loving Design

“Marriage is far from being the effect of chance or the result of the blind evolution of natural forces. It is in reality the wise and provident institution of God the Creator, whose purpose was to effect in man His loving design. As a consequence, husband and wife, through that mutual gift of themselves, which is specific and exclusive to them alone, develop that union of two persons in which they perfect one another, cooperating with God in the generation and rearing of new lives.” (Humanae Vitae para 8)

“This [marital] love is above all fully human, a compound of sense and spirit. It is not, then, merely a question of natural instinct or emotional drive. It is also, and above all, an act of the free will, whose trust is such that it is meant not only to survive the joys and sorrows of daily life, but also to grow, so that husband and wife become in a way one heart and one soul, and together attain their human fulfilment.

It is a love which is total—that very special form of personal friendship in which husband and wife generously share everything, allowing no unreasonable exceptions and not thinking solely of their own convenience. Whoever really loves his partner loves not only for what he receives, but loves that partner for the partner's own sake, content to be able to enrich the other with the gift of himself.” [Humanae Vitae 9]

Beauty and Love in Marriage

  • Marital love should be an ever growing, ever new love.
  • It should not suffer from the disordered love of things of this world.
  • The growing love within marriage and a family should create an environment of peace, joy and a foretaste of the harmony found in Heaven.

If we live out our vocation to marriage in the way God instituted it, that is, in the way the Holy Family in Nazareth lived it, it won’t matter where you live, how much money you have, how new your car is, how many friends you have.

Your family and marriage will produce a happiness which cannot be found in the things of this world, it will produce a contentment and satisfaction which cannot be found in this world.

There is nothing greater than to live in God’s love as the Blessed do in Heaven, and this can be achieved in our call to the Vocation of Marriage.

How can a Successful Marriage be defined?

Can we simply define a successful marriage as a marriage which doesn’t end in divorce?
Or perhaps where family members get on/tolerate one another?

A successful marriage, when defining it by God’s plan of marriage, must be one which is united to God Himself. By uniting ones marriage with God, all members grow in God’s love which in turn creates a Divine harmony, something which cannot be achieved without God.

Why is there such peace and concord within the Trinity?
Because the persons in the Trinity are united by a single Will – that of the Father in Heaven.

This must be the same in marriage and the family. Whose will then must the family follow?
Of course they must follow the Will of God.

The family must be united in their ambitions, desires, and inclinations to that of Christ. Without this component, the family will not grow into the image of the Trinity. The Holy Family in Nazareth was a perfect example of this unity, where all thoughts, words, deeds, desires and actions were done in the Will of the Father – this left no room for selfishness, and thus love was able to flourish.

Why are there such high divorce rates and unhappiness in Marriage today?

The Catechism says of this:
“Every man experiences evil around him and within himself. This experience makes itself felt in the relationships between man and woman. Their union has always been threatened by discord, a spirit of domination, infidelity, jealousy, and conflicts that can escalate into hatred and separation. (CCC 1606)

“According to faith the disorder we notice so painfully does not stem from the nature of man and woman, nor from the nature of their relations, but from sin. As a break with God, the first sin had for its first consequence the rupture of the original communion between man and woman.” (CCC 1607)

Jesus says to a mystic of the 20th century:

“I was to have on earth as many other families similar to the Family of the Creator, destined to populate the earth like as many terrestrial angels, to then bring them back to populate the Heaven. But, ah! how many moans in seeing families of sin being formed in the Marriage, which symbolize hell, with discord, with lack of love, with hatred, and which populate the earth like many rebellious angels, who will serve to populate hell.”

Christ has restored the disorder sin caused in Marriage

“To heal the wounds of sin, man and woman need the help of the grace that God in his infinite mercy never refuses them. Without his help man and woman cannot achieve the union of their lives for which God created them "in the beginning”. After the fall, marriage helps to overcome self-absorption, egoism, pursuit of one's own pleasure, and to open oneself to the other, to mutual aid and to self-giving.” (CCC 1608)

“By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life.” [CCC 1615]

Therefore by appointing Christ king and the Blessed Virgin queen of one’s marriage and family, we can enjoy marriage as it was formed by God “in the beginning”, which is where love reigns in father, mother and children, where concord and peace flow between all members.

What are the components of a Successful Marriage?

Here we need to look at two things which are intimately linked:

  • Love
  • Sacrifice

We just read:
“It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ” (CCC 1615)

St Paul links these two when he says:
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her," adding at once: "'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one. This is a great mystery, and I mean in reference to Christ and the Church.” [Ephesians 5:25, 31-32]

A growing love comes from an ever-growing selflessness, which in turn brings God’s love and harmony to reign in souls.

What is True Love?

“Today, the term “love” has become one of the most frequently used and misused of words, a word to which we attach quite different meanings. Let us first of all bring to mind the vast semantic range of the word “love”: we speak of love of country, love of one's profession, love between friends, love of work, love between parents and children, love between family members, love of neighbour and love of God. Amid this multiplicity of meanings, however, one in particular stands out: love between man and woman, where body and soul are inseparably joined and human beings glimpse an apparently irresistible promise of happiness. This would seem to be the very epitome of love; all other kinds of love immediately seem to fade in comparison.” (DCE 2)

This is what a perfect marriage and family life is about, getting a glimpse/foretaste of the happiness that we will find in Heaven.

How would we define Love?

  • Is love simply an emotional feeling?
  • Does love fluctuate with moods?
  • Can you love someone one day and not the next?
  • Can we help who we fall in love with?
  • Is there really a difference between ‘loving someone’ and being ‘in love with someone’?
  • Does love fade over time? Or grow over time?
  • What is the relationship between love and sex?

Types of Love: 1st “Eros”

“The love between man and woman which is neither planned nor willed, but somehow imposes itself upon human beings, was called eros by the ancient Greeks. The Greeks—not unlike other cultures—considered eros principally as a kind of intoxication, the overpowering of reason by a “divine madness” which tears man away from his finite existence and enables him, in the very process of being overwhelmed by divine power, to experience supreme happiness.”  (DCE 3)

Pope Benedict goes on to explain in his encyclical:
“An intoxicated and undisciplined eros, is not an ascent in “ecstasy” towards the Divine, but a fall, a degradation of man. Evidently, eros needs to be disciplined and purified if it is to provide not just fleeting pleasure, but a certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude for which our whole being yearns.” (DCE 4)

The Perfection of Eros
“Two things emerge clearly from this rapid overview of the concept of eros past and present. First, there is a certain relationship between love and the Divine: love promises infinity, eternity—a reality far greater and totally other than our everyday existence. Yet we have also seen that the way to attain this goal is not simply by submitting to instinct. Purification and growth in maturity are called for to restore eros to its true grandeur. True, eros tends to rise “in ecstasy” towards the Divine, to lead us beyond ourselves; yet for this very reason it calls for a path of ascent, renunciation, purification and healing.” (DCE 5)

Types of Love: 2nd “Agape”

“Agape expresses the experience of a love which involves a real discovery of the other, moving beyond the selfish character that eros tends towards. Love becomes concern and care for the other. No longer is it self-seeking, a sinking in the intoxication of happiness; instead it seeks the good of the beloved: it becomes renunciation and it is ready, and even willing, for sacrifice.” (DCE 6)

Jesus Himself echoes the relationship between love and sacrifice when He says:
Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” [John  15: 13]

We can conclude then that “True Love looks to the eternal. It is indeed “ecstasy”, not in the sense of a moment of intoxication, but rather as a journey, an ongoing journey out of the closed inward-looking self towards its liberation through self-giving, and thus towards authentic self-discovery and indeed the discovery of God.” (DCE 6)

It is in the selfless giving to one another that we create this reciprocal of love, the same love found in the Holy Trinity, the same love that Christ Himself demonstrates in the redemption of man.

Are ‘eros’ and ‘agape’ contradictory?

Eros and agape can never be completely separated. The more the two, in their different aspects, find a proper unity in the one reality of love, the more the true nature of love in general is realized.”

Marital love should be ever-new and ever-growing. It should not suffer in the same sense as love for things in the world, which fades over time. In marriage, if love is not growing, then there is neglect in one’s vocation, as marriage should be a journey of ever-increasing love between spouses.

Love does not grow in routine. One’s relationship in marriage should never become routine, in the same way our relationship with God should never become routine. One’s relationship with one’s children should never be routine. Routine creates a feeling of luke-warmness, which in turn kills love.

Our love should grow by an ever-increasing giving of one another to each other. Love is infinite, it starts but has no limit, no end. This is what must be nurtured throughout family life, because this is the key to true happiness.

St Paul Defines Love

Love is always patient; love is always kind;
love is never envious or arrogant with pride.
Nor is she conceited, and she is never rude;
she never thinks just of herself or ever gets annoyed.
She never is resentful; is never glad with sin;
she’s always glad to side with truth, and pleased that truth will win.
She bears up under everything;
believes the best in all;
there is no limit to her hope, and never will she fall.
Love never fails. [1 Corinthians 13: 4-8]

We see from St Paul’s description that love is truly a mix of ‘eros’ and ‘agape’ – this is what we must try to achieve with the help of God’s Grace in our vocation to marriage.

What are the components for a successful marriage?

Every person and marriage is unique. However, there are some common guidelines to follow for a successful marriage, in the same way there are guidelines in obtaining top grades at university.

A successful marriage requires a number of steps which we will discuss. The most important is to know that God has already created your perfect spouse, that person who will sanctify you, and through marriage bring you into a life of “True Happiness”. Knowing this, you must pray to God to bring this person into your life.

Common Mistakes
A common mistake when looking for a spouse is to dismiss someone because they don’t seem like the person you had in mind. You have to remember that it is through your marriage and God’s grace that you and your spouse will be made perfect for one another. That’s not to say you should marry the first person you meet.

Another common mistake to make is on timing. You may have planned to be married now or perhaps when you reach a particular age and therefore not be interested in marriage right now. This is not the right mentality to have. Always remember God knows best, perhaps now is the best time even though you would like to marry in 5 years. Or perhaps you want to marry now, but God may have other work for you to complete first.

Step 1: Choosing a Spouse

Are they open to a Sacramental Marriage in the Catholic Church?

The spouses risk experiencing the tragedy of Christian disunity even in the heart of their own home. Disparity of cult can further aggravate these difficulties. Differences about faith and the very notion of marriage, but also different religious mentalities, can become sources of tension in marriage, especially as regards the education of children. The temptation to religious indifference can then arise.” (CCC 1634)

“According to the law in force in the Latin Church, a mixed marriage needs for liceity the express permission of ecclesiastical authority. […] This permission or dispensation presupposes that both parties know and do not exclude the essential ends and properties of marriage; and furthermore that the Catholic party confirms the obligations, which have been made known to the non-Catholic party, of preserving his or her own faith and ensuring the baptism and education of the children in the Catholic Church.” (CCC 1635)

Mixed faith marriages carry the greatest risk which can lead to an unhappy marriage and even divorce.
“The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses' community of persons, which embraces their entire life: "so they are no longer two, but one flesh." They "are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving." This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the Sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together.” (CCC 1644)

This demonstrates the importance of their unity in Christ through their common faith and in the Eucharist received together, which assists in making them one body and soul.

One should not dismiss someone just because they are not Catholic. There are numerous cases where a spouse-to-be has willingly converted before marriage once they were taught about the great gift of our Faith.

Step 2: Courting (girlfriends and boyfriends)

In the world we live in, courting (girlfriend/boyfriend) means many different things. It is important to recognise that a successful marriage in the future requires respect, purity and modesty during the courting period.

Without these virtues, you risk endangering the happiness of your future marriage.

Sin deforms our image and likeness to God. One should avoid anything which could lead to sin. When one participates in sinful activity, it can take years of difficulty and unhappiness within the marriage to undo. Through practicing virtue and with God’s grace, our image and likeness to God can be restored.

Cohabitation can have devastating effects on marriage. Cohabitation ultimately leads to the use of contraception, which can result in contraception failure, and that, in turn, can lead to an abortion which leaves the couple (would-be spouses) scarred and can therefore ruin a planned marriage. Cohabitation also increases the risk of sexually transmitted infections, when perhaps a relationship ‘doesn’t work out’ and one moves on to other partners.

Good things to do whilst courting:

  • Attend Mass and adoration together
  • Say prayers/Rosary together
  • Consecrate your relationship to Our Lady, ask Her to keep your minds, bodies and souls pure
  • When meeting, meet with other friends with your same values
  • Have fun, but good clean fun. Humour in relationships is important
  • Pope JPIIWatch spiritual/saints’ films together
  • Go on spiritual retreats or pilgrimages together (with other friends with similar values)
  • Go to modest dances together (not in dark places or where immodest music/dancing takes place)
  • Discuss your openness to children and a large family, as that may be what God calls you to do
  • Visit and eat with each other’s parents and grandparents
  • Set clear limits on intimate contact with one another
  • Get to know one another’s desires, ambitions and inclinations.

Step 3: Marriage Preparation

Once there is mutual commitment in a relationship, it is time to make a firm public declaration by getting engaged. It is still proper, even though rarely practiced, for the man to seek permission from the future father-in-law. Missing this step could cause problems later on. It is wise also to seek the advice of those around you that you trust, even speaking to priests, uncles and parents so that you get an idea of your relationship from a more objective point of view.

We live in a world today that gives the impression that we should have first completed higher education, be settled with house, car, have a secure job and savings of £12,000+ for the wedding before even considering marriage. This is a false ideology, and falling into this trap could be of great detriment to one’s future happiness.

We must remember Our Father in Heaven Who wants the best for us and has all things planned. Simply trust in God and He will provide, as long as you are acting in accordance to His Will.

One of the beauties of marriage is a growing union between the spouses. Completing your higher education together, developing your spiritual lives together, reaching financial security together, buying a house together all bring with them greater growth in unity and love in a marriage, than having obtained all these things beforehand.

Getting Married Young

There are many advantages in getting married young, but that is not to say it is the only way. Things to consider:

  • Fertility starts to decline for women from about the age of 30, dropping down more steeply from the age of 35.
  • After 35 years, the proportion of women who experience infertility, miscarriage or a problem with their baby increases significantly.
  • Fathers who marry young tend to earn more, drink less and be more responsible.
  • There is a smaller chance of contracting life-long sexually transmitted infections.
  • Young families normally have closer relationships between parents and children due to a smaller age gap.
  • Statistically getting married young counts for a higher percentage of happy marriages than those who get married later in life.
  • Children work towards the sanctification of their parents - starting the process earlier is easier for all and parents aren’t so set in their ways.
  • Parents have more energy to spend on their children.

Step 4: Marriage

  • The marital act: conjugal love
  • Chastity outside and inside of marriage
  • Spacing children
  • Parenthood
  • Roles of the mother and father
  • Family economics
  • Growth in holiness and unity in family life

The Marital Act: Conjugal Love

"Conjugal love involves a totality, in which all the elements of the person enter - appeal of the body and instinct, power of feeling and affectivity, aspiration of the spirit and of will. It aims at a deeply personal unity, a unity that, beyond union in one flesh, leads to forming one heart and soul; it demands indissolubility and faithfulness in definitive mutual giving; and it is open to fertility.” (CCC 1643) 

God has ordained that conjugal love only works for the betterment of the couple in the union of marriage.
Outside of this union, conjugal love will lead to the detriment of the couple mentally, spiritually and physically. Conjugal love outside of marriage usually leads to the use of contraceptives.

Chastity outside and inside of Marriage

Chastity implies purity of mind, body and soul. This is just as important within marriage as it is outside.

Chastity Outside of Marriage
The Catechism teaches us a wonderfully positive message: “Those who are engaged to marry are called to live chastity in continence. They should see in this time of testing a discovery of mutual respect, an apprenticeship in fidelity, and the hope of receiving one another from God. They should reserve for marriage the expression of affection that belongs to married love. They will help each other grow in chastity.” (CCC 2350) 

One cannot have a healthy marriage without chastity — that virtue by which we are in control of our sexual appetite rather than it being in control of us. And chastity is a tough virtue to develop. If it is not in full development before marriage, it is going to be very hard to develop after marriage. So, before marriage is the time to accomplish this very positive thing, the virtue of chastity.

Chastity in Marriage
Conjugal love in marriage helps the spouses to unite, grow in love and get a “certain foretaste of the pinnacle of our existence, of that beatitude [happiness] for which our whole being yearns.” (DCE 4)

Chastity in marriage “has the effect of enabling husband and wife to develop their personalities and to be enriched with spiritual blessings. For it brings to family life abundant fruits of tranquillity and peace. It helps in solving difficulties of other kinds. It fosters in husband and wife thoughtfulness and loving consideration for one another. It helps them to repel inordinate self-love, which is the opposite of charity. It arouses in them a consciousness of their responsibilities. And finally, it confers upon parents a deeper and more effective influence in the education of their children.” (HV 21)

We must also remember that conjugal love must always be open to life:

“Hence to use this divine gift [conjugal love] while depriving it, even if only partially, of its meaning and purpose, is equally repugnant to the nature of man and of woman, and is consequently in opposition to the plan of God and His holy Will.” (HV 13) 

Consequences of Artificial Birth Control

“Responsible men can become more deeply convinced of the truth of the doctrine laid down by the Church on this issue if they reflect on the consequences of methods and plans for artificial birth control. Let them first consider how easily this course of action could open wide the way for marital infidelity and a general lowering of moral standards. Not much experience is needed to be fully aware of human weakness and to understand that human beings—and especially the young, who are so exposed to temptation. […] Another effect that gives cause for alarm is that a man who grows accustomed to the use of contraceptive methods may forget the reverence due to a woman, and, disregarding her physical and emotional equilibrium, reduce her to being a mere instrument for the satisfaction of his own desires, no longer considering her as his partner whom he should surround with care and affection.” (HV 17)

Spacing Children

“If therefore there are well-grounded reasons for spacing births, arising from the physical or psychological condition of husband or wife, or from external circumstances, the Church teaches that married people may then take advantage of the natural cycles immanent in the reproductive system and engage in marital intercourse only during those times that are infertile, thus controlling birth in a way which does not in the least offend the moral principles.” (HV 16)

God has also put another natural spacing mechanism: a mother who breastfeeds regularly usually cannot conceive. This acts as another natural spacer as it is possible to breastfeed for as long as it is desirable.


 “By its very nature marriage is ordered to the procreation and education of the children and it is in them that it finds its crowning glory. Children are the supreme gift of marriage and contribute greatly to the good of the parents themselves.” (CCC 1652)

Saint Alphonsus Liguori says “Be attentive, young men and young women, who have not as yet chosen a state in life. If you wish to marry, learn the obligations which you contract with regard to the education of your children, and learn also, that if you do not fulfill them, you shall bring yourselves and all your children to damnation.”

The Catechism backs this up by saying:
“The fruitfulness of conjugal love extends to the fruits of the moral, spiritual, and supernatural life that parents hand on to their children by education. Parents are the principal and first educators of their children.” (CCC 1653)

FamilyPope Paul VI in his Declaration on Christian Education (Gravissimum Educationis) [2] teaches:
“Since parents have given children their life, they are bound by the most serious obligation to educate their offspring and therefore must be recognized as the primary and principal educators. This role in education is so important that only with difficulty can it be supplied where it is lacking. Parents are the ones who must create a family atmosphere animated by love and respect for God and man, in which the well-rounded personal and social education of children is fostered. Hence the family is the first school of the social virtues that every society needs. It is particularly in the Christian family, enriched by the grace and office of the Sacrament of matrimony, that children should be taught from their early years to have a knowledge of God according to the faith received in Baptism, to worship Him, and to love their neighbour. Here, too, they find their first experience of a wholesome human society and of the Church. Finally, it is through the family that they are gradually led to a companionship with their fellowmen and with the people of God. Let parents, then, recognize the inestimable importance a truly Christian family has for the life and progress of God's own people”

Parents therefore have the duty as primary educators of their children, to teach them to know, love and serve God.

“In this sense the fundamental task of marriage and family is to be at the service of life.” (CCC 1603)

Roles of the Mother and Father

The roles of the parents in family life are interchangeable for the most part. However, there is one role which cannot be exchanged; a man cannot be a mother to a child and a woman cannot be a father to a child.

God has designed man and woman distinct but complementary. Each parent is able to give to their children in a way that the other cannot.

The father’s role should be a reflection and image of our Father in Heaven. A father’s duty is to lead his family to Heaven in the same way that Our Father in Heaven has willed the salvation of His children.

The mother should be a reflection and image of our Mother in Heaven. A mother should be loving and understanding, she should desire her family to be fully conformed to the Will of God in the same way that The Blessed Virgin is conformed to the Will of God.

We must look to the Holy Family of Nazareth as an image of the perfect family in which God reigned, and try to imitate them.

Family Economics

We must recognise that the purpose of marriage and family life is the sanctification of its members. Our goal should therefore be sainthood above all else.

Earning a living to provide for the family is a must, as St Paul teaches us. However, we must remember that obtaining money is a means for us to live, not our purpose in life. We have to ensure our ambition and desire for success, a career, honours or money must be secondary to that of the family and our obligations to God.

Parents have an obligation to their children’s formation in the faith and love of God. God gives us the gift of children because He believes we are the best people to educate them and form them, not the secular institutions (day care, after school clubs, boarding schools, etc).

Family life must be an outpouring of love in sacrifice to one another.

Growth in Holiness and Unity in Family Life

pray togetherThere are some important practices which should be encouraged in family life to ensure a growth in fraternal love and love of God:

  1. God’s Will must be put first in all decisions
  2. Eating a family meal together at least once a day at the dining table
  3. Praying the Rosary and saying the Morning Offering together
  4. Attending Mass together
  5. Choosing schools based on their beliefs and values rather than academic achievement
  6. Watching films together which are appropriate for children and which do not give ideas that contradict the faith
  7. Create an environment at home which encourages and brings the minds and hearts to God and love for one another.
  8. Prevent media sources (TV, DVDs, music, magazines, books, etc) which take the minds and hearts of the family away from God and fraternal love.
  9. Parents & children should desire above all else to be saints.



Abbreviations used:
NB. In the text numbers after the abbreviation refers to the paragraph number in the appropriate document.

CCC - Catechism of the Catholic Church. (

DCE - Encyclical 'Deus Caritas Est' Pope Benedict XVI (2005) (

HV - Encyclical 'Humanae vitae' Pope Paul  VI (1968).

Lumen Gentium. Pope Paul  VI (1964).

  1. Luisa Piccarreta (1925).
  2. Gravissimum Educationis.  Pope Paul  VI (1965) Declaration on Christian Education,