By Sarah Mac Donald - 04 October, 2016
In canonising Louis and Zelie Martin together during the Synod on the Family, Pope Francis was sending a clear message that as husband and wife, mother and father, they lived a life of supreme holiness: Archbishop Martin.
Pope Francis has warned that a global war is underway to destroy marriage and he cited gender theory as part of this onslaught.
In a meeting with priests, religious, seminarians and lay people in the Georgian city of Tbilisi, the Pontiff said, “Today you do not destroy with weapons, you destroy with ideas.”
He added that “It is ideological colonisation that destroys.”
The only way to defend marriage, the Pope suggested, is to help couples “make peace as soon as possible, before the day ends, and don’t forget the three words: ‘May I?’ ‘Thank you’ and ‘Forgive me’.”
“Marriage is the most beautiful thing that God has created,” Pope Francis said.
In marriage, man and woman become one flesh, “the image of God.” He added, “When you divorce one flesh you sully … God’s image.”
Responding to a local lay woman who expressed concern over the way globalisation fails to take into account local values and promotes new views on sexuality, Pope Francis referred to gender theory as “a great enemy of marriage”.
Closer to home, Archbishop Eamon Martin of Armagh on Sunday recalled at a novena to St Thérèse in Ballintogher, Co Sligo, how this time last year he was attending the Synod on Marriage and the Family in Rome.
He said one of the highlights of those days was being present on 18 October at the canonisation of Louis and Zelie Martin, the parents of St Thérèse, the ‘Little Flower’.
It was the first time that a married couple were declared saints together.
“In choosing to canonise Louis and Zelie Martin together during the Synod on Marriage and the Family, Pope Francis was sending a clear message that they, as husband and wife, as mother and father, had lived a life of supreme holiness and dedication,” the Primate of All Ireland said.
He said Louis and Zelie offered a powerful witness to the precious gift that marriage and the family is for the world.
“Their shared sainthood is a sign of hope and affirmation for those who live the vocation of marriage. Their canonisation represents a vote of confidence in the beauty and value of marriage as a vocation.”
He said his aim was to reflect on the tenderness and love that Louis and Zelie nurtured within their home and family and which they had passed on to their children.
“Those of you who are married have chosen a shared vocation – joining hands and hearts to walk the path of life together with the help of God’s grace. Your choice entails a whole series of compromises, acceptance of one another’s faults and failings, and an undertaking to lift one another up when the going gets tough.”
Dr Martin continued, “You are on a journey of discovery with your wife or husband; along the way you have to learn to die to selfishness, to be willing to open your relationship up to the gift of children; to share the struggle of financing and building a home, teaching a family, raising your sons and daughters in the faith, coping with all the demands and contradictory messages that are hurled at you and your children from all corners.”
He added that as couples grow older together, they have to share the cross of illness and increased frailty, discovering each other’s fears and anxieties; and, when death comes, coping with loss and bereavement until God unites them again in eternal life, where parting is no more.
Archbishop Martin said that sometimes St Thérèse, and her parents Louis and Zelie, are presented in an overly sentimental way.
“We forget that their spirituality of love and tenderness offers a profound and challenging message to today’s world. The ‘Little Way’ can change people – Thérèse and her parents were missionaries of tenderness and mercy in a world which is often harsh and unforgiving.”