“We express our appreciation and gratitude for the testimony you give every day to us and the world with your faithfulness, your faith, hope and love.” (The Message of the 3rd Assembly of the Synod of Bishops, 18 October 2014)
St John Paul II wrote: “The primary duty of the Church is to reaffirm strongly — as the SynodFathers did — the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage. Those who, in our times, consider it too difficult or impossible to bond with one person for life, and those who have views twisted by a culture that rejects the indissolubility of marriage and openly mocks the commitment of spouses to fidelity, need to be reminded of the joyful message about the absolutely binding power of that marital love which finds its foundation and strength in Jesus Christ” (Familiaris Consortio, 20).The Church cannot bend underthe pressure of ideology or culture, because it is a “question of the Church’s faithfulness to the Gospel and the Apostolic Tradition amidst the constant evolution of cultures” (Ecclesia in Africa, 62).
The testimony of God’s faithfulness
No one says that marital love is something easy, requiring no work, no generosity or even no self-denial. Everyone understands that “for spouses to keep faithful it may sometimes be difficult and requires sacrifice, mortification and self-denial” (Familiaris Consortio, 16). Probably no one has any doubt that everything that really has some value requires effort. Therefore St John Paul II emphasised: “Giving testimony to the priceless value of the indissolubility and fidelity of marriage is one of the most precious and most urgent tasks of Christian couples in our times. […] But it is also necessary to lift the valueof the testimony of those spouses who, abandoned by their partner, with the strength of faith and of Christian hope have not entered into a new relationship.” (FamiliarisConsortio, 20).
It’s really about the fact that in our lives we are often faced with the choice between obedience to God, on one hand, and sin, on the other, which is seen as the easier and more pleasant solution. As St John Paul II points out, “the decision to marry made by a man and a woman in accordance with God’s plan of marriage, that is the decision to commit their whole lives in indissoluble love and unconditional faithfulness through their irrevocable marital consent, assumes […] an attitude of profound obedience to the will of God” (Familiaris Consortio, 68).Those who stand in faithfulness, even despite the unfaithfulness of their spouse, are simply obedient to God.
“The primary duty of the Church is to reaffirm strongly the doctrine of the indissolubility of marriage (Saint John Paul)
As we know from the entire history of salvation, only obedience to the will of God, keeping His rules and fulfilling His plans, gives man true happiness. God supports us with his grace and equips us with everything we need to do his will. Jesus Christ remains with the spouses so that “just as He loved the Church and gave Himself, so the spouses would love each other in lifelong faithfulness through their mutual commitment.” (Gaudium et Spes, 48). God is faithful in all things, He is an example of faithfulness for married couples. He is also the source of true marital faithfulness which overcomes the most difficult crises.
Faithfulness to the Covenant
God wants to show the world His faithfulness and steadfastness. He does this in numerous ways: through the Church, against which “the gates of hell shall not prevail” (Matt. 16:18), and through the unbreakable, indestructible bonds of the sacrament of marriage. “The marriage of the baptized thus becomes a real sign of the New and Eternal covenant sealed with the blood of Christ” (Familiaris Consortio, 13). As we know, “God is absolutely faithful to his promise” (Pastores Dabo Vobis, 2) and therefore He also expects this faithfulness from us. Marital love and faithfulness are naturally contained in the sacrament uniting man and woman.
Pope John Paul II reminds us that “just as Christ is the ‘faithful witness’ […] and the supreme realization of the unconditional faithfulness with which God loves His people, so Christian married couplesare called to participate truly in the irrevocable indissolubility that binds Christ to the Church” (Familiaris Consortio, 20). “By virtue of the sacramental character of marriage, the mutual relationship between the spouses becomes even more inseparable. Through the sacramental sign, their mutual relationship is the real image of the relationship of Christ to the Church” (Familiaris Consortio, 13). If we were to claim that the marriage covenant could be broken, it would mean that God’s covenant with us, sealed in the blood of Christ, no longer had any power.
However, our Holy God, when establishing a covenant with sinful man, remains faithful forever. This reality of God’s faithfulness cannot be destroyed by human sin: neither by adultery nor by the divorce obtained in a registry office. God is prepared for our sin. He reacts to it with forgiveness and receives us back, provided that we repent and break away from sin. “The same sin which can harm the marital covenant becomes the imageof unfaithfulness of people to their God; idolatry is prostitution, unfaithfulness is adultery, disobedience to the law is rejection of the nuptial love of the Lord. However, Israel’s unfaithfulness does not destroy the everlasting faithfulness of the Lord, and therefore the love of God, always faithful, becomes a model of the bonds of faithful love which should exist between spouses.” (Familiaris Consortio, 12).
The Movement of Faithful Hearts
Now, more than ever, “lay people who are going through a marital crisis want to be embraced by pastoral care […]. Usually in discussions on this topic we do not make a clear enough distinction between spouses who got divorced, tied themselves with someone else and broke their marriage vows, and those who have been hurt, betrayed and abandoned, and yet they do not bind themselves with anyone new, because they remain in friendship with God and they keep faithful as they promised in their marriage vows”, notes Fr Marek Dziewiecki. “These people know that the fact that their spouse has hurt them and broken his or her vow […] does not give them the right to break their own vow. Both sides need special pastoral assistance, but the abandoned party should have priority in this regard and has the right to expect more help. Jesus always stood firmly with the victims and defended them against perpetrators… so firmly that the perpetrators decided to kill him” (www.opoka.org.pl).
Similarly, John the Baptist so firmly defended the indissolubility of marriage that he was beheaded. Herodias, who remained legally married to Philip, lived with her husband’s brother Herod, which was absolutely contrary to the will of God as revealed to the Jews in the Mosaic Law. Worst of all, however, was that no one seemed to mind this in all of Israel: Herod had sexual pleasure, Herodias had money and power, her legitimate husband Philip probably had some profits or was afraid to speak, the high priests and even the Pharisees scrupulous in keeping the Law of God gave the adulterers their silent consent to the situation, and only John the Baptist had the courage to exhort the tyrant and his cruel mistress…
Thus we can see that God expects us to act categorically, to stand in defence of marital faithfulness even when it does not concern us directly. St John Paul II reminds priests that “pastoral involvement even more generous, even more full of wisdom and prudence, reflecting the Good Shepherd, is needed in relation to those families who […] have to face objectively difficult situations.” The Pope mentions among those difficult situations “abandonment of the family by one of the spouses” (Familiaris Consortio, 77).
However, according to St John Paul II, the responsibility for supporting the spouses remaining in faithfulness despite unfaithfulness lies with the whole community of the Church: “The separated spouse often faces loneliness and other difficulties, especially when he or she bears no blame. In this case, the ecclesiastical community must lend them special support; show respect, solidarity, understanding and give practical help, so that they can preserve their faithfulness even in this difficult situation in which they find themselves; the community must help them cultivate the forgiveness necessary in Christian love and be ready perhaps to return to their former married life. […] A similar situation obtains in the case of a divorced spouse, who — being well aware of the indissolubility of the valid marriage bond — does not enter into a new union, but commits himself or herself solely to fulfilling their family duties and the responsibilities of a Christian life. In this case, the example of faithfulness and Christian consistency takes on particular value as a testimony before the world and the Church” (Familiaris Consortio, 83).
God is the source of true marital faithfulness which overcomes the most difficult crises.
Therefore, we invite sacramental spouses remaining in faithfulness, despite crises and even betrayals, to join the Movement of Faithful Hearts. The MFH member’s commitment is as follows:
• to live in sanctifying grace, nurturing a personal relationship with Jesus,
• to receive Holy Communion frequently and to read the Bible regularly,
• to entrust to God in daily prayer themselves, other participants of MFH, their spouse and their loved ones.
The conditions for joining MFH are simple, and the Holy Spirit supports us by giving power to persevere in the resolution to be faithful to the marriage covenant. To join the Movement of Faithful Hearts, you need to go to confession, receive Holy Communion, entrust yourself to Jesus with all your heart and confess faithfulness to Him with your lips, reading out the prayer of consecration to MFH.
Do not be afraid to openly oppose demoralisation, the breaking up of our families and the harming of our children! Do not accept the divorce mentality! Join MFH and encourage others to persevere in faithfulness even despite a divorce. Let the editors know about your joining MFH and persevere in your resolution to stay faithful, fulfilling the related responsibilities. Then we will write down your name in the book of MFH, will send you a special blessing and will keep you in our daily prayer.