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Marriage plays a vital role in our salvation history

Joseph F. Naumann is Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

by Archbishop Joseph F. Naumann

Today, Jan. 26, I fly to Florida to participate in the Good News Cruise. What we do for Jesus! It is tough duty, but someone must do it!

More than 450 married couples will be enjoying the beauty of the Caribbean, while also participating in marriage enrichment sessions. Several of the Eternal World Television Network celebrities — e.g., Dr. Ray Guarendi, Teresa Tomeo, Al Kresta as well as other speakers like Father Mike Schmitz — will be making presentations on how to renew and strengthen marriage. Bishop Joseph Coffey, a former Navy chaplain and now an auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of the Military Services USA, yours truly and several other priests will serve as chaplains for this floating retreat.

I never really had a desire to cruise the Caribbean. There will be nearly a thousand Good News Cruise participants. I asked naively if that meant we would be the only ones on the ship. I was quickly informed that there will be another 3,000 to 4,000 shipmates. Some of the cruise enthusiasts point out that our ship will be bigger than the Titanic. I wish they would make a different comparison, since the maiden voyage of the Titanic did not turn out very well.

The Good News Cruise is organized by Corporate Travel of Detroit, a Catholic-owned and -operated agency. They have invited me to participate in previous cruises, but I always found a good excuse to decline.

As you know, the “strengthening of marriage and family” is one of our super-priorities for the archdiocese. In a moment of weakness and — I hope — wisdom, I agreed to participate in this year’s cruise. I am confident that I will meet some amazing couples. I also anticipate that I will learn a lot from the other speakers on board, equipping me to better serve married couples and families in the archdiocese.

Many people have told me that the food on these cruises is both delicious and plentiful. I am grateful that Lent will not have begun yet. Evidently, cruises do not provide the optimum environment for weight loss. Pray that my guardian angel will protect me from gluttony!

The title of the presentation that I will be making to the Good News Cruise participants is: “From Genesis to Revelation – What the Bible Says about Marriage.”  It is true that the Book of Genesis practically begins with God providing a helpmate for Adam. Early in the biblical narrative, the author of Genesis states: “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a suitable partner for him.” The beginning of the Bible essentially describes the marriage of Adam and Eve.

The Bible ends with the marriage of Jesus, the victorious Lamb of God, with his bride, the church, in the new and eternal Jerusalem.  The Bible is described best as the greatest love story ever told, by recounting God’s pursuit of the masterpiece of his creation — human beings.

Marriage plays an important role throughout the biblical narrative. There is the beautiful prayer of Tobiah and Sarah on their wedding night. If you read the Book of Tobit, you will understand why their prayer was so intense and fervent.

The Book of Proverbs describes a worthy wife to be priceless. The Song of Songs is a beautiful love poem that provides an image of God’s love for us. The Book of Sirach also describes a virtuous wife as a great blessing for man. Psalm 128 compares the good wife to a “fruitful vine in the heart of the house.”

In the New Testament, in his First Letter to the Corinthians, Paul gives a beautiful and poetic description of human love. In his Letter to the Ephesians, Paul describes the importance and beauty of marital love as an icon of God’s love for us.

In the Gospels, we find Our Lord’s own teaching on the meaning and purpose of marriage as well as the contradiction of divorce and remarriage. Of course, it is no coincidence that Our Lord’s first miracle occurs in Cana at the celebration of a wedding. Jesus often uses the image of a wedding banquet to describe heaven.

Please keep me and the cruise participants in your prayers this week. Pray for the couples, that their love for each other may deepen and grow more passionate.

January 26 and 27 are the 25th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s pastoral visit to St. Louis in 1999. In the homily at the Mass which our Holy Father celebrated in the football stadium and convention center, St. John Paul II said:

“As the new evangelization unfolds, it must include a special emphasis on the family and the renewal of Christian marriage. In their primary mission of communicating love to each other, of being co-creators with God of human life, and of transmitting the love of God to their children, parents must know that they are fully supported by the church and by society. The new evangelization must bring a fuller appreciation of the family as the primary and most vital foundation of society, the first school of social virtue and solidarity. As the family goes, so goes the nation!”

If a married couple spends eight hours a year participating in some form of marriage enrichment, the chance of divorce diminishes dramatically. The couples on the Good News Cruise will have received enough marriage enrichment to protect them for another decade. I will be praying for all of the married couples of the archdiocese, that you know the importance of your marriage, not only for you and your children, but also for the church and world!

About the author

Archbishop Joseph Naumann

Joseph F. Naumann is the archbishop for the Archdiocese of Kansas City in Kansas.

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