". . .Firmly established by the Lord, the unity of marriage will radiate from the equal personal dignity of wife and husband, a dignity acknowledged by mutual and total love. The constant fulfillment of the duties of this Christian vocation demands notable virtue. For this reason, strengthened by grace for holiness of life, the couple will painstakingly cultivate and pray for steadiness of love, large heartedness and the spirit of sacrifice.
Authentic conjugal love will be more highly prized, and wholesome public opinion created about it if Christian couples give outstanding witness to faithfulness and harmony in their love, and to their concern for educating their children also, if they do their part in bringing about the needed cultural, psychological and social renewal on behalf of marriage and the family. Especially in the heart of their own families, young people should be aptly and seasonably instructed in the dignity, duty and work of married love."
(Gaudium et Spes, On the Church in the Modern World, No. 49)The best antidote to the current marriage malady is for married couples to have good, holy marriages. Pope Benedict XVI recently said:
"There is a clear link between the crisis in faith and the crisis in marriage. And, as the Church has said and witnessed for a long time now, marriage is called to be not only an object but a subject of the new evangelization."The last thing Christ said to His disciples before leaving this Earth was to "Go out into the whole world, and preach the good news." Married people are not exempt from this command, and are called to witness to the beauty and truth of their vocation, and their life in Christ for others and for their children. Christ did not convert a million followers at once. In the plan of salvation, Christ did not choose to come in the age of social media when he could reach millions by the click of a button. He gathered just 12 men and sent them out into the world to convert the whole of it. Marriage is the perfect missionary model. Just as missionaries attracted their followers by first respecting the dignity of others as precious children of God, so too spouses can attract each other to Christ by daily recognizing and respecting the personal dignity of each other. This respect and love legitimizes their motives and faith, and it is this respect and love that children see in their parents which attracts them to conversion and zeal for the faith their parents espouse.
Spreading the faith happens on a personal and intimate level. And since marriage is the most intimate and personal of institutions, spouses must first start evangelizing the faith by living it for one another and for their children. To repeat what the Second Vatican Council said,
"The constant fulfillment of the duties of this Christian vocation demands notable virtue. For this reason, strengthened by grace for holiness of life, the couple will painstakingly cultivate and pray for steadiness of love, large heartedness and the spirit of sacrifice."Marriage is a great calling, and a beautiful vocation. Let us strive to keep our fast today knowing the nobility of the vocation, and the needed graces to fulfill it.