Order of the Blessed Virgin Mary of Mercy

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A Marriage Saved - A Mission Given

Mercedarian Friar - Monday, June 22, 2015

When Julie and Greg met it seemed to be the perfect match. They fell madly in love. Their temperaments and interests seemed to be perfect for one another. They complemented each other even from a spiritual perspective. Julie was raised in a traditional Catholic family which emphasized Mass attendance and proper behavior. Greg, on the other hand, was from a family which had converted to the Church. His family was not as devote as Julie’s family, but they were people of faith.

The early years of marriage were happy for the Alexander’s as they welcomed two babies into the new family. Greg was in the military and Julie stayed at home to take care of the children. The young family attended Mass each Sunday, because this was “the thing to do.”

 

With the happiness of those early years, who would have expected that dark clouds were beginning to form. Trouble really started when Greg left the military and got the dream job in Texas. The position offered a significant pay increase.

 

The Alexander’s were beginning to get a taste of the good life. They bought a beautiful house in an upscale neighborhood. Greg put his heart and soul into work, while Julie made new friends in the neighborhood. Many of these women were successful career women bring in large salaries. While drinking wine they would all brag about their careers and positions of prominence. Julie felt left out. Compared to these other women her life as a homemaker seemed boring and insignificant.

 

Finally, Julie made the decision to go back to work. Her persuasiveness earned her a job at a local fitness club. It wasn’t long till Julie also began climbing up the economic ladder. Her dedication and talents earned her a promotion to a position many miles away from her family. Julie would only be spending a few days at home a week. In her mind, Julie rationalized the decision as the best for her career and the family’s income. However deep inside her, Julie felt empty and “spiritually divorced from her husband.” Work gave Julie the affirmation and meaning that she didn’t experience at home.


Then one day, the house that the Alexander’s had built on sand collapsed.Everything came to a head when Greg finally gathered the courage to say, “I am miserable”. At first Julie was taken back, but after reflection she realized that she too was miserable. She had been finding ways to avoid Greg and the problems that existed between them. The couple had been so busy making money and accumulating things that they rarely talked.

 

After a time of discernment, they decided to get a divorce, but lived in the same house while making preparations. Even with all their marital problems, the Alexander’s still faithfully attended Mass out a feeling of obligation. A new priest had come to the parish who was a gifted preacher. There was something about this man’s words that caught their attention. They actually “enjoyed” this priest’s homilies!

 

One Sunday the couple had the idea that they had to speak to this priest about their pending divorce. For both of them it was the 911 last chance that they would give God before making things final.

 

The meeting with the priest was an actual grace for the couple. They came to discover that this priest was a Canon Lawyer who worked for the diocesan marriage tribunal. Because of his position, he was not able to counsel couples.Instead, the priest gave the Alexander’s some “homework” to do in order to come to know God’s plan for marriage.


This simple step began a long journey towards an appreciation of the gift of the Sacrament of Marriage. They studied the basis for the Sacrament found in Sacred Scripture. The couple began to read the wealth of wisdom found in the Church’s two thousand year teaching on marriage and family. After reading documents such as Familiaris Consortio (St. John Paul II). Humanae Vitae (Blessed Paul VI), and the Catechism of the Catholic Church, they were blown away by the beauty and richness of God’s plan for marriage.

 

Like St. Paul, Julie and Greg Alexander had wasted years of marriage serving themselves and dishonoring Christ’s Sacrament. Only as they began to study God’s plan for Matrimony, did they realize what a mess they had made of their marriage. Praying together they promised God that if He would somehow save their marriage they would give their lives helping other couples discover the beauty of the Sacrament.

 

The Lord answered this prayer which He had placed on the hearts of the Alexanders. Within a few years, they were both working full-time promoting the Covenant of Love marriage ministry in parishes. This ministry is based on empowering married couples in the parish to minister to others. It is a five year curriculum which assists couples in living God’s plan for marriage.

 

The mystery of the Cross is that God chose to take something evil and bring great good from it. When the Jesus knocked Julie and Greg off their horse (Acts 9:1-10),he did not condemn them for their many sins. Instead, Jesus used them and their broken marriage to bring light and healing to other couples. May married couples never despair of their woundedness, but rather allow the Divine Physician to heal and strengthen their love for each other! For with God there is always hope and all things are possible!

 

The Alexander House

 

Marriage 911

Strengthening Marriage and Family Life in Our Country

Mercedarian Friar - Friday, May 29, 2015

On Tuesday, May 5th the Archdiocese of Philadelphia sponsored a workshop entitled Marriage-Centered Communities: How to Build a Marriage Ministry in Your Parish. This addressed the current state of marriage in the world and the Church and offered practical ways that a parish can most effectively serve married couples. The first part of the workshop was led by Dr. Hilary Towers, a Catholic author and developmental psychologist from the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia.

 

Dr. Towers’ presentation posed the question: “What heritage are we leaving to the next generation?” Much of her talk provided statistical data on the state of Marriage in our country. Today the divorce rate is 51% which is an all-time high. Surprisingly, new data shows that more Americans are getting divorced after many years of marriage. The percentage of divorces filed by those 50 to 60 years old is skyrocketing.

 

There are various reasons given for divorce today, but some are more common than others. The most prevalent is that the couple has “grown apart”. A high percentage also claim that they separated because of an inability to “talk together”. Other common reasons given for divorce are “money problems” and “infidelity”.


It is clear from the data that marriage as an institution in the United States is fading. At one time marriage was a part of the fabric of American society. It was expected that most young people would enter into this bond of matrimony in their 20’s and it would continue for a lifetime. Fidelity was taken for granted. Divorce and/or separation would occasionally happen, but it was a rare occurrence in society as a whole.

 

To be sure, there have and always will be legitimate reasons for separation, but in general the goods of a stable bond far out way the contrary. Studies continually show that a stable home with a mother and father provides that best environment for raising children. Married couples can model so many virtues for their children. The couples teach by their example the good habits of charity, forgiveness, accountability, and commitment. Even in less than ideal situations, children are often given models of how to cope with weakness and sin in an imperfect world.


America and other developed nations are entering into a new reality of a society without marriage. In Judeo-Christian thought, the family has always been understood as the basic unit of civilization.As St John Paul II states, “Human fatherhood and motherhood ... contain in an essential and unique way a' likeness' to God which is the basis of the family as a community of human life, as a community of persons united in love (Letter to Families, 6)". Husband, wife, and children show forth the Trinity in a totally unique way. This family is the ideal place for raising children to be responsible citizens

 

What if our next generation does not have the stability of the traditional family? We are beginning to see that millennials have a much less confidence in the possibility of commitments. Today about 20% of adults 18-29 years old have decided to cohabitate and/or not even consider marriage. There is in general a lack of trust in others and in the institution of marriage. On a purely economic level, the increase of divorce places more children in danger of poverty. It also puts a greater strain on government and state agencies to provide for many single parent homes.

 

Although things do not look so good for marriage today, there is much that can be done to help couples. As Dr. Towers says, “It is the Church working through the clergy and laity that will rehabilitate marriage.” Much can be done at the local level. The parish can and must build supportive communities of strong marriages. These married couples will become mentors of commitment for those who have none. The parish family also must pray for marriages at Mass and through various prayer groups. The laity need to encourage their pastors to preach about the Church’s treasury of wisdom on the Sacrament of Marriage. Parishes need to make accessible the practical components of a strong healthy marriage.

 

Things are not looking great today for the institution of marriage. The statistics show that fidelity and commitments to marriage are at all time lows. Yet, this basic unit of civilization is of inestimable value to society as a whole. For the sake of future generations, the each member of the Church must do their part support this Sacrament. Our gift to the next generation must be this: a renewed commitment to the Sacrament of Marriage.

 

More from Dr Hilary Towers:

 

It is time for the Church to face up to the crisis of spousal abandonment

 

A Guide to Saving Marriages

 

Time to Challenge No-Fault Divorce

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