"Why marry?" This was the question proposed by Professor Héctor Franceschi, professor of Marriage Canon Law at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, at the inaugural lesson entrusted to him during the opening ceremony of the new academic year.
The Professor, with the appropriate level of seriousness but also a touch of irony, faced this extremely timely and delicate question, beginning from the reality that ever greater numbers of people believe that they can be together without getting married.
In fact, as numbers of defacto unions increase exponentially, those involving marriage decrease. "It's not just that younger people aren’t getting married in the Church," said Franceschi, "but they’re not getting married"
If marriage is only seen as a formality
More and more couples think that it is not very important to 'formalize' their union.
"Many have a legalistic view of marriage and reduce it to a formality, associate it with a document or a beautiful party ... - he explained - Yet marriage is much more: limiting ourselves to legalizing the union is not properly contracted marriage. Marriage is not something that is built by laws and cultures; it is a natural reality that, however, does not exhaust itself at all biologically and instinctively: it is rather 'natural' in the sense that it is the human form of full development of sexuality. Therefore, we must find ways to explain to young people that the gift of self, as a male and female, in an exclusive, faithful, indissoluble and fruitful union represents the good of being a man or a woman. And not because the Church or the State say it, but anthropologically it is so. "
Marriage as a life project
"One of the elements that prevent the understanding of the true nature of matrimonial consent is the fact that people have frequent sexual intercourse - emphasized Franceschi – and this makes it difficult to see that there is a one thing first - where two people know and mature the idea to marry - and another thing after - in which the man and the woman who became married belong to each other. "
In our society, "waiting" often means "wasting time": we are led to live "everything and immediately", "here and now" instead of embarking on a long and demanding journey that leads to the truth about a union and brings it to its full ripening. That is why we struggle to recognize the substantial difference between engagement and marriage.
However, in a culture characterized by the provisional and the pursuit of immediate gratification, "we must be able to convey to young people that marriage is not a mere wedding party," said the lecturer, "but a life project involving the whole person and requiring of virtue: fortitude, generosity, prudence, magnanimity and above all, charity ".
The importance of the bond
In quoting Pope Francis in Amoris Letizia, Franceschi said that we need a bond of pastoral care that helps young people understand that loving means to be totally and exclusive, to fully accept the other and not only to feel strong feelings.
It is worth getting married, but it is also worth communicating the beauty and wealth of marriage.
This is a remarkable commitment, the Professor concludes: "The challenge may seem enormous, but if we begin with the proper formation of priests, lay faithful and religious, we will be an effective tool in changing our cultures. The challenges are great, but we have all the tools to face them."