Marriage prep begins at home, Bishop Conley says

Lincoln, Neb., Sep 19, 2014 / 07:33 am .- Preparation for the sacrament of Holy Matrimony begins with family life in the home long before a couple has met, said Bishop James Conley of Lincoln, Neb., and this fact cannot be overlooked in addressing the prevalence of divorce.

“I’ve learned in nearly thirty years of ministry, that no priest can adequately prepare a couple for marriage in the months he spends with them before the wedding,” he said in a Sept. 19 column for CNA. “Real preparation for marriage begins in the home – in the witness of loving and married parents who embrace the holy vocation of family life.”

Although the priest’s duty in counseling a couple seeking marriage in the Church is to help them “embrace the sacrificial call of marriage” and to “reject the lies of the world about false relationships” – namely, contraception, divorce, cohabitation and “trial marriage,” the priest only has a few months with them, whereas a person’s family has years with them.

Formation as a faithful spouse – and formation for any vocation – begins in the home where the child is “taught to believe in the merciful and trustworthy God.”

He noted that many people today come from broken homes where such love is not modeled, making it difficult for a priest to convey the importance and sanctity of marriage in a short amount of time before a couple is married.

“Broken families beget more broken families, broken marriages beget more broken marriage,” Bishop Conley said.

Next month’s Synod of Bishops in Rome will focus on matters of family life. Leading up to the event, much attention has been given in the media and commentaries to the situation of divorced and remarried Catholics.

Bishop Conley said that divorce is a “symptom of the culture of death” and that if we wish to prevent it, the Church needs to address both family life and marriage preparation.

“In short, if we want to overcome the culture of death, we must do it by attacking the problem at the root – by allowing Jesus Christ to heal families.”

Bishop Conley hopes that the upcoming synod will “help families encounter Jesus Christ” no matter what their situation and that it will encourage pastors to examine marriage and family life “as seriously as the Church prepares young men for priesthood, or young men and women for consecrated life.”

“In the midst of broken families, it is the Church who must shoulder much of the responsibility for preparing couples to embrace the cross of married life,” he said.

Closing with a quote from Pope Francis’ homily at the marriage of 20 couples at the Vatican last week, Bishop Conley reminded readers that families are the “bricks” that make up society.


  1. Diana Reply

    What happens to a child who see violence at home during up bring. Father abusing wife physically and sexually. I witnessed this and now I suppose to be a model wife. I wan eager to leave home. For years of unhappiness in my marriage. Yet I must follow God’s law to remain married and faithful.

    1. Visuca Reply

      Diana, may God bless you. You seem to have been ‘put to the test’… Life can be like that and this is why we do have . – God created us FREE: He also created us to be happy and gave us his Law: The Ten Comandments. Those who brake God’s Law are in a bad way and I cannot see ANY reason at all to follow them or stay with them. As a child I did have to be patient and wait… But I have ALWAYS chosen ‘my way’ in life (in the light of God’s teachings), followed it, and I am happy! I do believe everyone can do the same. – I love you, as Jesus taught us to love, and I shall pray that all is well with you..

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