Authentic 'domestic Church'
The Church recently celebrated the XIV Ordinary Assembly of the Synod of Bishops to discuss the topic “The vocation and mission of the family in the Church and contemporary world.” Many reflections on the family and, more specifically, the Christian family, came out of the synod. Today the attack on the family is more and more notable. Marriage is not given the value it deserves and perseverance in marriage is less and less frequent. Couples no longer fight to stay together, according to God’s will. One no longer understands that love, even if you don’t feel it, doesn’t end and that with the grace of God it is possible to overcome the many trials and temptations that come from the devil, the world and the flesh. The farther the world is from God the harder it is to recognize both the value and dignity of man and the value and dignity of marriage and the family. John Paul II said that the family is an “authentic ‘domestic church’, a place consecrated to dialogue with God the Father, a school of how to follow Christ along the paths pointed out in the Gospel, the leaven of fellowship and of social virtues in close communion with the Spirit that dwells in our souls” (apostolic trip to Spain, 1982). When the Catechism of the Catholic Church talks about the indissolubility of the marriage bond it says that “Jesus has not placed on spouses a burden impossible to bear, or too heavy - heavier than the Law of Moses. By coming to restore the original order of creation disturbed by sin, he himself gives the strength and grace to live marriage in the new dimension of the Reign of God. It is by following Christ, renouncing themselves, and taking up their crosses that spouses will be able to "receive" the original meaning of marriage and live it with the help of Christ. This grace of Christian marriage is a fruit of Christ's cross, the source of all Christian life” (CCC 1615).
And what does all of this have to do with Garabandal?
Among the objects kissed by the Virgin Mary during the girls’ ecstasies, perhaps the most frequently kissed were the wedding rings. There are innumerable stories about them, like the one found here. ( ) Father José Luis Saavedra, in his book “Garabandal Message of Hope,” makes the following observation: “The kissing of these rings, though without words, nevertheless very clearly signifies a fundamental value: the capital importance of marriage and the family. This is something very typical in Garabandal.” (pg. 76) Fr. Saavedra also indicates the interesting fact that St. John XXIII, without having known anything about what was occurring in this distant mountain village, exhorted Christian married couples to kiss one another’s wedding rings, “as a deliberate strengthening of their holy and mutual commitments.”
In the 60’s, at least in a country like Spain, no one suspected that the family was in danger. However, in our current times, the Pope’s exhortation and the importance given by Our Lady to the sacrament of marriage, shown particularly by the gesture of kissing wedding rings, are of the utmost importance for married couples and families of today. Our Lady invites us to be faithful and to love and respect marriage. We could say that she indicates the importance of the union between spouses by kissing the exterior sign of their mutual surrender in the sacrament of marriage.
Together we pray for all married couples and Christian families, so that they might be faithful and continue to grow in unity. Encouraged by the Pope John XXIII’s exhortation, we can give marriage and the family the value that God so desired.