It was just one and a half years ago when, in the exotic, beautiful city of Rio de Janeiro, I made the biggest, and most important, decision of my life.
In the strikingly white-stoned basilica of Nossa Senhora Auxiliadora, I made an unbreakable, life-long promise to God. Looking into her eyes as I spoke, I told my bride that I would look after her for the rest of my life and that together we would make a holy family.
It was a beautiful occasion – not simply because of the location, the venue or even because of the beauty of my wife. There was a much deeper beauty, rooted in the knowledge that what was taking place was the formation of an unbreakable union in the presence of the Creator of the universe.
Today, our understanding of the sacrament, and the responsibilities it involves, remains as strong as ever. Whilst married life has of course had its ups and downs, which stem from our fallen, human nature, we know that we are on an incredible journey to an unimaginable destination – and that nothing in the world can shake us off our divinely-guided course.
As I watched “Marriage: God’s Design for Life and Love”, I was struck by how well this 45 minute film captured the transcendent beauty of marriage, and that sense of mission that my wife and I both share. With gentle, uplifting music gracing the background, as well as gorgeous imagery of married couples young and old, the producers presented a heart-touching and authentic vision of marriage. Rather than the worldly perception that marriage is a union of finite convenience, the film presents a loving, natural union, rooted in divine authorship.
Aided by a variety of great speakers, including clergy and laity, the film is a clear, beautiful and concise explanation of the Catholic Church’s teaching on marriage. It includes a number of important points, such as how marriage is rooted in natural law as a union formed from the reality of our humanity, and that children are a fundamental part of that union. The speakers were authentic in their love and care for the institution of marriage.
One moment that I particularly liked was when the film talks about how the first miracle performed by Jesus was at the wedding feast in Cana. For many people, including myself, this act showed how important God places marriage in the human experience. Marriage is the bedrock from which civilisation grows.
Incidentally, I had visited Cana a year before getting married, as part of the diocesan pilgrimage to the Holy Land. Knowing that I’d be getting married the following year, I thought it would be a fitting tribute to Jesus’ first miracle by using some Canaan wine at my own wedding.
As well as highlighting the beauty of marriage, the film also addresses, in a compassionate yet resolute way, the challenges to it, including artificial contraception, cohabitation, divorce and same-sex attraction. At the present moment in our culture, these challenges have been promoted by powerful forces that have wrought devastating consequences upon the institution of marriage, family life and our civilisation.
And with all these challenges – as well as the challenges to come – one can be forgiven for being pessimistic about the future of marriage. But as “Marriage: God’s Design for Life and Love” so eloquently states, marriage is a natural union, essential to our humanity and rooted in our Maker.
I believe we can be confident that marriage and family life will make a triumphant revival in time. It will take a number of generations, and many individuals and families will unfortunately suffer in the meantime, but the light and goodness of marriage cannot be dimmed forever.
For those already married, they will be comforted by this fittingly beautiful tribute to the sacrament, and for those yet to be married, the film will offer a glimpse of the incredible journey that awaits those who take up this vocation.
As Pope Francis once said, the family is “the masterpiece of society”, and as this film demonstrates, marriage is the crowning jewel that makes the family, and so much that is good in the world, possible.