Today is World Marriage Day. This annual observance is to honor husband and wife as the foundation of the family, the basic unit of society. As I congratulate all the married men and women on this special day, I thank them sincerely for their faithfulness and sacrifice in living out their married life. Marriage is hard, and we live in a world that encourages comfort and happiness above pain and sacrifice. Yet, at the heart of the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, there is a vocational call to a very different way of life. Our “yes” to the sacrament of marriage is not something that only happens on our wedding day. Ongoing marriage formation reminds us that our “yes” to this vocation is something that we give daily, and God will continue to give us what we need to grow closer to one another and to him. Therefore ongoing support and spiritual formation for married couples is a must. Last year, I had invited every husband and wife to spend a little dedicated time in prayer and reflection by participating in a seven-day virtual retreat focused on marriage at this link: http://www.foryourmarriage.org/marriage-retreat
This year I am suggesting that you read some good articles related to married life. There are many wonderful resources online, but I suggest one website in particular that has interesting reflections like: Then and now: What your vows really mean, How to unconditionally love your spouse, Understanding the inner lives of husbands, Is busyness affecting your marriage?, Redefining your marriage after the nest empties out. You can access these from https://www.focusonthefamily.ca/content/building-spiritual-intimacy-in-your-marriage
LENT is upon us! Mardi Gras is this Monday, followed by Fat Tuesday leading to Ash Wednesday. This year Ash Wednesday and Valentine’s Day are both on February 14! Does that change the rules of fasting and abstinence? No. In fact, our Bishop Checchio has already informed the whole Diocese: “This year, be aware that Ash Wednesday falls on February 14 (also Valentine’s Day). The obligation to fast does remain in effect, so it is suggested that those who are planning a special dinner make that their one main meal of the day.”
As we receive ashes on our forehead, let it be a visible symbol of our acknowledgement of our mortality and our dependence on a God who offers us His merciful love always. May the weeks following Ash Wednesday help us to learn how to live the way of Jesus. That’s why I am inviting us all to consciously choose some of the opportunities that our parish is offering: Faith sharing in our LIVE LENT! small groups (the six sessions are on the Eucharistic themes), Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent at 7 pm in church, attending Monday evening adoration, etc. It is also very important that we decide on some spiritual practice on a personal level too.
Your brother in Christ,
Fr. Abraham Orapankal