IT IS IMPORTANT THAT intending young couples in the Catholic Church be guarded in the growing phenomenon of “mixed agenda” in marriages.

 For many reasons, in one’s life journey, one’s spiritual life may be influenced by associations with family, relatives, mentors, friends, peers, the community and the environment.

 These associations   may lead us to compromise our faith as practising Catholic, particularly if we do not have “strong conviction” of the faith.

Specifically as youths, the level of spirituality may be contaminated, as “green” solution is sought to problems. It suffices to say that many of our once professed Catholic brethrens may have been victims of these pressures, and have found themselves separated from the Catholic faith.

 It is obvious that a major problem these days in Nigeria and perhaps globally is crisis of faith in Christendom, as different pastors seek to cast a niche for themselves. There is the need to examine some of the circumstances, such that we should be on the watch, particularly in contemporary times where in practice, flimsy excuse could result in either catholic married couples being lured into different faith-based organisations. 

The Catholic faith teaches that the Sacraments of Holy Order and Matrimony are contemporaneous, as they remain ‘irreversible investments’, which are at the ‘service of communion with Christ’, given in trust (Luke 22:19, CCC 1581-1584, 1592). Both sacraments confer an ‘indissoluble bond’ and of special mission of service to God’s people (CCC1534-1535). At the sacrament of Holy Order Christ configures man to Himself, as the pastor is empowered with the triple gifts of the munera, namely teaching, sanctification, and governing.  Likewise, in the dispensation of the sacrament of matrimony; a great sacrament (Eph.5: 32) and mystery instituted by Christ between a baptised man and baptised woman (Matt.19:5, 1 Thess. 4:3-5; CCC 1601-1605, 1625-1632). In turn, the grace of the sacrament assists one another towards holiness (CCC 1641-1642).

Marriage is a vocation, a call from God that a man and woman take a “life-long love” vow for each other, until death parts their company, “to be the living sign of God who is love”, just as of that total commitment of love exemplified by the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross. To the Church, the matrimonial vow taken by a wedded couple is of a “cointegrating” journey in the catholic faith. Lack of joint commitment to the faith is a negation of the doctrine of companionship, a fruit of happy marriage life. Happy marriage life can be truncated by this development, as we often hear that Christianity is an individual raise, a loose talk that is antithetical to the joint commitment vow.

Experience has informed us that due to disagreements between couples, either party may renege commitment to the church, such that lack of attendance at church services may ensue. This ‘hidden agenda’ makes the marriage mere commitment to future division of the union. This and related issues in failed marriages, in contemporary times, may be a concern to the Church, such that Pope Francis elevated the art and science of ‘long life journey’ in marriage, by the canonization of Louis and Marie-Azelie Martin in 2015, as a model of couple who upheld “sanctity and holiness in life experience of marital love, commitment and parenthood”, and became saints after their daughter, the famous saint, St. Therese of Lisieux, known widely as the “Little Flower”, St. Theresa of the Child Jesus.

Intended couples need to understand that the husband and wife share eternal contribution to the vow of holy matrimony as the sacrament is dispensed. As part of responsibility, parents of intending couples must   hold back their children from ‘unilateral mistake’ of hidden agenda, by driving home this essential religious injunction to their children in their marital journey. Ambivalent feeling of ‘commitment’ stands as division to the future of a relationship. On remedies, post marriage training sessions on marriage counseling and marriage therapy should be instituted in both the Catholic Men Organization (CMO) and the Catholic Women Organization (CWO). These are church institutions that should be strengthened as first step intervention tool for discernment counseling against “mixed agenda” couple to relapse into premature divorce. Moreover, young married couples should be encouraged into mentorship with mature couples. Couples should always create an environment of faith and love in their homes.

Patrick Omoruyi Eke of the Department of Banking & Finance, Lagos State University, Ojo, is a Stockbroker and Chartered Accountant. He attends St. Cosmas Catholic Church, Mupin, Ota, Ogun State.


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