This week I dived back into my green-splotched booklet hoping for inspiration about family life. I was feeling a little discouraged after reading an article in The Economist. "Carriage and Horse" appeared in the latest issue, and it provides an overview of marriage policies around the world.
The Economist, a progressive British periodical, is not exactly known for its vigorous defense of traditional marriage. I was astonished, therefore, when the second paragraph of the article cited difficulties families face when parents do not marry.
The article includes no source attribution, no counter-arguments. It simply rattles off the statistics as firmly established facts. It seems there is no debate: the trend away from stable marriages creates pervasive problems for society.
What can we do about this? We can pray.
We pray for our own marriages. We ask the Lord to make us stronger, holier individuals who find peace in loving our spouses, even when that requires great sacrifice. We pray for people whose families are broken, whose marriages are in crisis. We pray for spouses and children who suffer in violent situations. We pray for single parents. We pray for men and women who long to be married, or to have children. We pray for priests and vowed religious whose lives testify to the eternal marriage banquet in heaven.
And we pray for our children. Despite the anti-marriage trend growing around the world, may the Lord preserve them and set their hearts on fire for real love.
St. Ignatius helps me pray. Here are a few gems from "Prayerful Thoughts of St. Ignatius of Loyola," compiled by Joseph N. Tylenda, S.J.
-Give yourself a moment to stop.
-Listen to your breathing.
-Now read one or more quotations, asking the Lord to help you hear just exactly what he desires to tell you today.
- You are much deceived in thinking that the cause of your unrest and little progress in following the way of the Lord comes from the place where you live, or your superiors, or your brethren. This unrest comes from within you, that is, it comes from your own lack of humility, obedience, and prayer, and finally from a want of mortification and fervor in advancing in the way of perfection. You could have a change in residence, of superiors, and of brethren, but if the interior [person] is not changed these other changes will do you no good. Everywhere will be the same for you, unless you become humble, obedient, devout, and you mortify your self-love. This is the change you should seek and no other. (6-7)
- In order to replace a bad habit with a good one, you must use effort upon effort, just as you use one nail to drive out another. (8)
- To make progress in the practice of virtue, it is of great advantage to have a friend, whom you yourself have chosen, to advise you of your faults. (10)
- In our dealings with others, we ought to speak little but listen much, and when we do speak, our few words should be spoken as if the whole world were listening and not just one individual. (10)
- I must remind you to frequent the sacraments, to read spiritual books, and to pray with as much recollection as you possibly can. Every day set aside some time so that the soul will not be without its food and, thus, you will not be induced to complain like the one who said: "My heart has withered because I have forgotten to eat my bread" -Psalm 102:5. (12)
How did that go?