By Mario and Paola Martinez
Saint Teresa of Calcutta wisely said, “If you want to change the world, go home and love your family.” Evidently, the love we live in our nuclear family has the ability to change husbands, children, and society as a whole. Those who have grown up in a healthy environment are more predisposed to transmit life and love to a sickening society. However, many families around the world, particularly the families of our communities at this point in history, are going through a crisis of love that is forcefully affecting society’s continuity and health.
Research makes clear what common sense already tells us: children in the United States who grow up in a home with married parents are more likely to get a better education, better health, better socio-economic status, and success in life, in general, compared to children raised in a single-parent household. Charles Murray of the American Enterprise Institute and one of America’s most influential social scientists believes that the United States is continually separating into a two-class system, with marriage as the great dividing line between a wealthy upper class, defined by marriage and educational achievement, and a new lower class, characterized by lack of marriage and educational accomplishments.
Undoubtedly, the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified the crisis for many of us, affecting the social, economic, and personal spheres, including multiple simultaneous stressors and considerable uncertainties. Although it is not yet known for sure the extent to which events such as the current pandemic will affect marriages and families, it is known that love endures everything (1 Corinthians 13).
We are at a turning point for our generation with respect to the disintegration of the family. There is an epidemic of divorce, an astonishing number of children born out of wedlock, and/or an increasing number of children growing up in broken homes; family disintegration, and the collapse of marriage is undoubtedly the defining theme of our time.
Marriage fosters stable families that enable children to thrive, shore up communities, and help family members succeed in good times and weather bad times. This pandemic has introduced challenges for families, but also opportunities. However, social distance prevents us from enjoying our extended family and friends in gatherings. It has forced us to spend more time with our nuclear family. For many, this task has been a process of learning and adaptation. It has not been easy to work, study, and do family life, especially for those who were not used to it.
Let us not lose hope. Pope Francis tells us in “The Joy of Love” that grace through the Sacrament of Matrimony helps us to experience the Gospel of the family, which is the joy that fills the heart and the whole life. So, a starting point is St. Paul’s plea (1 Corinthians 1:10), let us fight to live in harmony and that there are no divisions between us, but that we remain united in one thought and the purpose within our Domestic Church.
Mario and Paola Martinez are co-directors of the Office of Marriage and Family Life Ministries in the Diocese of San Bernardino.