Plenary voices: Francine Pirola

Here is the text of an intervention by Francine Pirola at the Plenary Council on Monday 4 October

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Marriage is of fundamental importance to the Church, just as the Church is of fundamental importance to marriage, writes Francine Pirola. The potential for marrieds to influence the course of evangelisation is immense, she says. Photo: CNS, Gregory Shemitz

Marriage is the most common vocation in the Church. For many couples, it is a latent vocation – something seen and experienced as a private matter, separate to the practice of their faith.

Increasingly, Catholics are choosing to marry outside the Church and to live their marriages with indifference to the vision of Matrimony to which Christ calls them and the Church articulates in her teachings.

Yet the potential for this group to impact the mission of evangelisation is immense.

There is great potential for couples who are well formed, who know that their marriage is about more than their personal happiness but is a sign to the world of God’s love, to be a powerful evangelising force.

That couple, far from perfect, witnesses to the kind of Love to which Christ calls us – a love that is urgent, intimate, passionate, merciful. Their stories of heartbreak and joy, of failure and recovery, give every person – single, married, separated, celibate – hope and confidence in God’s plan for our salvation.

Evangelisation is not just telling people about God. It is about falling in love with a person – with Jesus our bride-groom. And just as a spouse needs to do that over and over in the marriage, so too do they give witness to our need to do it in our relationship with Jesus.

Married couples are our latent force. They are the untapped resource that can power the revival of our communities and lead us all deeper into what St Paul called ‘The Great Mystery’ (Eph 5:32) – that the one-flesh union of husband and wife illuminates the one-flesh union of Christ and the Church.

There are many things we need to do as an evangelising church, helping to awaken and empower the Sacrament of Matrimony could be our single most influential strategy.

Read Francine’s Plenary blogs here.