The Power of the Marriage Crucifix!
In the town of Siroki-Brijeg in Herzegovina, on the Balkan Peninsula, not one single divorce has been recorded among its 13,000 inhabitants. For centuries, because of pressure of the Turks and the Communists, the people suffered cruelly as their Christian Faith was always threatened. They knew, through experience, that salvation comes through the Cross of Christ. It does not come from humanitarian aid, peace treaties or disarmament plans.
The Crucifix: Treasure of Every Home
These people possess a wisdom that does not allow them to be duped over questions of life and death. That is why they indissolubly link marriage with the Cross of Christ. When a young couple is preparing for marriage, the priest tells them that they have found their Cross. And, it is a Cross to be loved, to be earned, a Cross not to be thrown away, but to be cherished. The Cross represents to them the greatest love and the Crucifix is the treasure of every home.
When the bride and groom set off for the church, they bring with them a Crucifix. The priest blesses the Crucifix, which then takes a central role during their exchange of vows. The bride places her right hand on the Crucifix and the groom places his hand over hers. Thus, the two hands are bound together on the Cross. The priest covers their hands with his stole as they proclaim their vows to be faithful until death. The bride and groom do not then kiss each other, they rather kiss the Crucifix. They know they are kissing the source of their love.
If the husband abandons his wife or the wife her husband, they let go of the Cross. If they abandon the Cross, they are left with nothing! They have lost everything for they have abandoned Jesus. After the wedding, the newlyweds bring the Crucifix to their home and give it a place of honour. It becomes the focal point of family prayer. When trouble arises or conflict breaks out, it is before the Cross they seek help. They do not go to a lawyer or consult a fortune teller or astrologer. No, they go straight to Jesus on the Cross, get on their knees and pour out tears and prayers, and exchange their forgiveness of one another.
They will teach their children to kiss the Cross every night and not to go off to sleep like pagans. When at night they kiss the Cross, they know that Jesus is holding them in His arms and there is nothing to be afraid of. Their fears and differences melt away, in their kiss of Jesus on the Cross.
The Divine Mission of Parents
After the Church, the family is the most sacred place on earth. Parents have a divinely appointed mission in their natural field of influence in the home and family. Here, they reign over the heart of the Nation and decree the ideals that shape the destiny of a generation! When those ideals are Christian, the home is a replica of Nazareth. The work of re-establishing Christ and Christian ideals must begin in the home.
Today, the soul of Christianity has been replaced by a new spirit. Every parent can serve as a leader in this battle. Every wife can be an influence to her husband, and husband to his wife, both can be an example to their children. Every Catholic parent must accept the teachings of Holy Mother the Church on marriage. The dignity of womanhood and the nobility of manhood rest upon that teaching. Marriage is a contract that implies a right to life-long companionship, mutual support in common interests, common sorrows, common joys; a contract that implies parenthood, a contract, therefore, which excludes all thought of divorce, trial marriage, and contraceptive birth control.
To a Christian, marriage is more than a natural contract. In the great charity of Christ, marriage has been elevated to the dignity of a Sacrament. This means that marriage has been taken out of the civil courts and placed in the Sanctuary. It means that Our Divine Saviour has shed His Precious Blood that married love may be sanctified, your children will know the fear and love of God, and your union shall not fail. When husband and wife realise that Christ died that their union shall not fail, surely they cannot refuse to bear the trials of life, yes, to carry a cross and suffer a crucifixion in all patience rather than succumb to the tragedy of a broken home.
What a mockery of the Cross is Divorce!
What a betrayal of the Crucified!
Matrimony is a Sacrament of the living. To receive this promised grace of the Sacrament at any particular moment or in any particular crisis one must be free from mortal sin. Accept this point in simple faith and understand that God will help you meet your responsibility as spouse and parent if you put no obstacle in His way, if you preserve His life in your soul and are in the state of Sanctifying Grace. You may get discouraged and feel overwhelmed with the burdens of your marriage, but try to see these temptations as opportunities to prove your love for God and your family. They are precious coins of gold when born with patience and love that will help you to gain merit and win Heaven.
Fostering the Marriage Covenant
Marriage is the most challenging vocation there is and yet we find no continuing education courses on it. Here, we give lines to live by: the Liturgy of married couples. Each will foster the successful flowering of the sacred covenant of Marriage. The family must be the one who shows the world that God is truly Our Father!
Using these guidelines, often and well, will strengthen your family and bring you peace. Say daily, morning and night, if not more often, “I love you.” Say it, mean it and show it.
Say often, Thank you. Be specific when you say this, thank you for a great meal, thank you for taking time to listen, for fixing something, repairing the door, thank you for caring, thank you for putting up with me. Finding things to be thankful for and voicing that thanks will cultivate in your married union gratitude to God and gratitude for each other. Being ungrateful is irrational. You may express your love and gratitude by a phone call, in a note, by a hug. You know, there are a thousand different ways. Find the good in everything you can, seek it out, talk about it, think about it.
Say with sincerity, “I am sorry.” Say it, mean it and state it in a way that is honest. I am sorry for taking you for granted, for not telling you about that errand, for forgetting to call when I was going to be late, for failing to ask your advice, whatever it might have been that caused pain and frustration to your spouse. And then say, ‘Please forgive me.’ By saying this, you are taking responsibility for the injury done. The mercy of God is medicine. To God we owe everything, He owes us nothing. What do we give to God, next to nothing! What does He give to us, everything! No matter how we offend Him, He is willing to forgive us. He was nailed to a cross and died that we might have forgiveness. Who are we to withhold mercy to another? Who are we to withhold forgiveness? We have to be willing to apologise sincerely and ask forgiveness and be willing to forgive.
Ask your spouse about her (his) day. It is important to you and your marriage. Catch up on the activities, challenges, joys and sorrows of the day before dinner if possible, or after. You must take time to be interested. Once you ask the question, give your undivided attention to what is shared.
Ask often, ‘How can I help you?’ This will usually get an immediate response. Then you must say, “OK, I’d be glad to!” Say it, learn to mean it and find joy in doing it. We entered marriage to be like Christ. We are called to love in a way that is life giving — through sacrifice.
Ask once a month or when possible, “Will you go out with me?” Make the plans before you ask the question as to the place, the flowers, the restaurant, the time. This is all about renewing the well-springs of love. Make memories now as you did when you were first married. You may not feel like it, but love is much more than a feeling. When feelings die, don’t conclude that love is dead. Feelings are like the weather, they come and go. While we cannot deny our emotions, for they are real and powerful, we must not let them rule our lives. Our covenant to God and each other is stronger than any feeling. That spouse of yours in the Hands of the Divine Sculptor is going to make you a saint. Let Him chip away at all your rough edges. We are pilgrims on this planet for as long as we are here. We are in exile on our way from earth to Heaven. God uses suffering to make us saints, and make sure we reach Home safely.
Family Prayer: Sacramentals: Sacraments
Family life must include prayer. Family prayer is the greatest source of peace in the home. Mary must be the Queen of your home. When we pray the Rosary we are simply speaking to God’s own Mother. There is no sinner so hardened with crime, no heart so broken with sorrow, nor anyone so weak that Mary will not save and comfort them if only they asked her. Mary gave us the Rosary to make us good, to make us strong, to make us happy and to make us holy. Let all the members of the family make their consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary and wear the Scapular as a sign of that consecration. The Miraculous Medal is a very powerful protection and source of Grace, let it be worn by all.
Place holy water fonts by the entry and exit of the house and in every room. This powerful sacramental drives out the devil, remits venial sins and helps the Souls in Purgatory.
Enthrone your home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. Have a Crucifix in the Living Room, and a nice picture of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. Prepare a place for prayer where you gather each night to pray as a family.
Go regularly to Confession. This is so vital. The priest is there to dispense with the utmost generosity the mercies of God to man. The poor sinner kneels at the feet of God’s representative, laden with failings and weaknesses, pain and sorrow. He lays down his heavy burden and his sins are swallowed up in the abyss of God’s mercy, fears, doubts and remorse are lifted from his soul. Much needed counsel may be sought.
Make the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass the highlight of your life, your week and your family. Go to Mass as often as you possibly can. In every Mass, Heaven comes to earth; we are surrounded by angels and saints. Who wouldn’t want to go to Mass! We all want to go to Heaven — we just don’t want to die first. As Catholics, we don’t have to die in order to go to Heaven. All we have to do is go to Mass, this is heaven on earth!
Modesty in your family is important: Modesty in dress, speech and action. Show respect for one another and for God.
At least 15 minutes of spiritual reading should be done each day. In order to live our Faith, to defend our Faith and to teach our Faith, we must know it. We cannot love God if we do not know Him.
A Living Fortress of Grace
To be a Catholic family takes discipline, courage, sacrifice and love. If you cannot do all of the things mentioned above, do one of them. Simply begin, have a desire to do them all, and your prayer will be answered.
Our beloved country must return to Christ, and the surest and sweetest way to make our homes a veritable fortress of grace is through living a vibrant Catholic life.