First Down (February 4, 2018)

Dear Friends,

The Parish offers a blessing to our Engaged Couples preparing for the Sacrament of Marriage. At our recent 5:00 pm Sunday night Mass we had eight couples come forward for the blessing, accompanied by their mentor couples. There are over 20 married couples from the Parish who have been trained to mentor and walk with an engaged couple assigned to them. Anything important in our lives should involve someone who can mentor and guide us, and married life is indeed an important and most demanding journey. What a great witness to our youth at the youth Mass, being witness to eight couples who are in a preparation process that is important before entering into committed married life.

You may have come across a story where Pope Francis, while visiting Chile and Peru, witnessed a marriage for a couple who were flight attendants. They had prepared to be married in a Cathedral in Chile in 2010, but the church was destroyed by an earthquake. Life must have changed as the couple married civilly and did not become the Sacrament of Matrimony. I am sure, with some inquiry into their situation, the Pope witnessed this couple become the Sacrament of Matrimony in a ceremony on a plane while 30,000 feet in the air. The Pope gave another great witness of faith. We are reminded that couples are invited to know that their faith calls them to married love that asks for God to be the center of their married life.

Many Catholic couples decide for many reasons to be married by the State or even decide to live together. We receive many calls from people who have come to the decision that they want to know more about the process of being married in our Catholic faith. When a couple who is married by the state and then gets married in the church, it is called a convalidation. Meaning, they are already married legally and now they seek to know what it means to become a Sacrament of divine love, marriage. We also receive calls from couples living together seeking to know if it is possible to be married in the Catholic faith. Our Parish is always ready to accept couples wherever they are at in their lives, with offering support on their spiritual journey. This is no time to shame people, scold them for not doing it right in the first place or reminding them they are living in sin. I personally enjoy meeting these couples, since all must see the Pastor first so that I can personally welcome them, hear their story and see what path we can take to help them move forward.

It is important that every Catholic understand that there needs to be some kind of preparation to understand the life they seek to live, how the Sacrament is meant to be lived in the life of the community and help all couples grow in knowledge and love of God. Couples are not treated as children and told what we all believe, rather we assess where the couple is at, honoring their experiences and offer real preparation that meets real life issues and faith development.

So I have been doing this for years, and my position as Pastor gives me the ability of set a tone of marriage preparation. I am proud of our preparation process, staff and mentors. I desire a tone of welcoming, walking with and asking God’s blessing to those who desire to enter this life of sacrificial love. The Pope did another wonderful thing helping Catholics to learn something good about our Catholic faith.

Peace in Christ,

Fr. Eric