Made for a Reason Retreat Day Six – Marriage: Made for the Common Good
Day Six – Marriage: Made for the Common Good
Breaking Open the Theme
“To love someone is to desire that person’s good and to take effective steps to secure it. Besides the good of the individual, there is a good that is linked to living in society: the common good. It is the good of ‘all of us’, made up of individuals, families and intermediate groups who together constitute society (CV, 7).
The common good is everyone’s responsibility. The efforts we make on a daily basis to be attentive to the needs of others are a contribution to the common good. The family is an essential component of the common good, rooted in marriage between a man and woman.
Healthy marriages model many virtues and good habits that are vital for social life. For example, joyful and sacrificial love between a man and a woman in marriage serves as an example to their children of what it means to love other people in general. Marriage advances a “genuine human ecology,” which includes a respect for and proper understanding of the human body and sexuality. At a fundamental and basic level, an intact marriage between husband and wife remains the most fertile source and well-integrated environment for new members of society.
Children who are raised in homes with their own married mother and father enjoy stability that no other family structure offers. If we consider these points, it becomes clear that marriage is important to the common good of society – the institution of marriage, properly understood as a man and a woman, bound to one another and their children, helps everyone in the society to flourish. It encourages young men and women to make promises to one another if they want to be “a couple”; it gives a societal recognition of such a promise and the community’s investment in helping the couple to keep it; and it gives children the stable homes they deserve.
“The family founded on marriage is an irreplaceable natural institution and a fundamental element of the common good of every society” (Pope John Paul II, Address to the participants in the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Council of the Family, November 20, 2004).
The Catechism lists three essential components of the common good: respect for the person, social well-being and development, and peace. (CCC, 1905-1917) In other words, society should be ordered in such a way that people will find it easier to be good, to develop their gifts and capacities in peace, carrying out their duties and responsibilities without having to struggle against oppression or fear, able to act according to their consciences. The common good is meant to ensure that people may live a “truly human life” (CCC, no. 1908).
Strong marriages – marriages in which a man and a woman stay together for their entire lives – are good for society as well as for the couple themselves. They serve as examples to the community of the virtues of love, fidelity, and perseverance. They demonstrate the capacity of the human being to live up to his or her promises.
To Think About
(Choose one or more of the following questions to reflect on by yourself and/or with your spouse)
(1) What are the three ways marriage is good for the entire society?
(2) How does your marriage contribute to your own capacity and growth as a person? How does this in turn contribute to the benefit of your family and society?
(3) In what ways do you recognize the benefit to the common good of a stable marriage between man and woman?
Prayer of Married Couples
Almighty and eternal God,
You blessed the union of husband and wife
so that we might reflect
the union of Christ with His Church:
look with kindness on us.
Renew our marriage covenant.
Increase your love in us,
and strengthen our bond of peace
so that, [with our children],
we may always rejoice in the gift of your blessing.
We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.