As the family goes, so goes the nation, and so goes the whole world in which we live.” – St. John Paul II
Last week I wrote on the basics of spiritual warfare: the battle for our souls is real, something we must all engage in by virtue of our baptism, and Jesus is the only one who can win this war.
I want to reflect on a particular aspect of the spiritual battle for married couples: the increasing assault on the vocation of marriage and family. Saint John Paul II wrote so often about the importance of marriage and family because it is the image of the most important thing: the love of God. God is a communion of persons, desiring from the beginning of time a covenant with his people, which he created in his image. Man and woman through the covenant of Matrimony, are a visible image of this life-giving love, and are therefore very sacred.
“Man and woman are the sacramental sign of the very relationship that Christ has with the Church.” (Familiaris Consortio 13)
We have lost a lot of that sacredness today. From birth control to divorce, from children out of wedlock to cohabitation, there is a serious threat to the sacramental understanding of marriage. Many no longer want to get married, while many others see divorce as an option for when marriage doesn’t work anymore. Kids are not necessary, and neither is the complimentary of a man or a woman. We really don’t understand what marriage is anymore, and through this confusion we can see how it is under attack.
For those of you who have made the choice to marry in the Church, you have the grace of the Sacrament, but it still doesn’t make marriage easy! There are many temptations of selfishness, pornography, work-aholism, and putting your children before your marriage that threaten your bond of love. There are emotional and physical and financial stresses that need to be managed, and this can for sure take a toll on your marriage!
The devil would love to destroy the family and to disfigure the image of God that is seen through the love of a man and woman. We have to be vigilant and always work to make our marriage a priority.
Therefore, I’m very excited to share a Couples’ Examination of Conscience that I came across right before Advent. It is a great way to pray with your spouse and center your marriage in Christ. I found it through a blog for St. Raphael’s Counseling, a Catholic counseling center based here in Denver, CO. I highly recommend reading the introduction to how the examination came about, so you can understand how it can work for you and your spouse.
My husband and I have prayed this examination a number of times before going to bed, and I can assure you it is very powerful. We would begin with a prayer, asking the Holy Spirit to show us the ways in which we failed to love each other and encourage us to love one another better, and one of us would read each question out loud and leave time for silent reflection. After reading the 12 questions, we would close in prayer. We would never talk about our reflections after praying it, but we could always see the differences in our actions and intentions the following day.
By praying together, putting God at the center of our marriage, and realizing the ways we can work on loving each other better, we are able to keep the devil out of our relationship and win one more battle for the good of our salvation.
Looking for a New Years Resolution?
Commit to praying this Examination of Conscience for Spouses nightly with your spouse for a week and see what happens!