FAMILY IS A SCHOOL OF LOVE
Fr. Marek Łuczak talks with bishop prof. Antoni Długosz about preparation for marriage, about crises and about how to talk with children in difficult situations
FR. MAREK ŁUCZAK: - Does the program of catechesis prepare young people for marriage in a good way?
BISHOP PROF. ANTONI DŁUGOSZ: - First of all, we must pay much attention to the so-called closer preparation for marriage. Young people often think that it is enough – as they say – ‘feel chemistry’, in order to decide about the sacrament of marriage. Sexual sphere plays an enormous role in spouses’ life because it unites them, but this sphere is not everything. When I assist in contracting marriage, I try to remind the words of Hymn about Love from St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians during the liturgy. It says about love which is supposed to be patient, merciful, not jealous, etc. Such love is given by Jesus. I often say that there is one love because real love comes from God. If the strong fundament is missing, and when something is not good in the materials sphere, there will appear troubles with living or a problem with a betrayal in marriage, and then young people split up. Then a child suffers the most, while he should experience love, because it is love which assures the sense of safety. There are also situations when this is the court which decides about which parent a child should be with. This tragedy is often accompanied by a new relationship of a father or a mother.
– How to help children, when they do not have a possibility to experience the family life?
– Certainly, here school and catechesis are very valuable. Good formation must take place from the earliest years. When I am among pre-school children, I always emphasize the role of a mother and a father. Preaching a sermon, I also always say a few words to parents, who must give a testimony of their religious engagement as well. This is a necessary condition of upbringing.
– Bishop mentioned that the sexual sphere is not enough, but is the ‘chemistry’ which is felt by young people a sufficient complement? Love is basic, isn’t it?
– Love is not equal to feelings. Real love is responsibility for a husband, for a wife, and later for children. Great responsibility is connected with this issue, because when a young man sees that his parents do not allow for this or that infidelity, later it prolongs their life choices.
– Now, let’s assume that parents have made a decision about a divorce or separation. How to talk with children in such a situation?
– I always tell children that parents are a gift from God and we do not have any influence on it. We do choose a mum or a dad, so we must love them as they are. The fourth commandment does not even say about love, but about worship which we should express to them. Worship is something more than only love. It is also connected with the issue that it does not matter what defects or shortcomings of parents are – I am obliged to respect and love them. Besides, these bad experiences can also be used constructively: if I see faults in the behavior of my relatives, I make an effort in forming myself, not to repeat these mistakes. We accept what is good from our parents, but we also learn not to continue what is bad in their attitude. However, each case should be considered individually, it is impossible to work out one method which could be generally applied.
– Not every catechist copes with such a task…
– An essential condition here is a good relationship between a child and a spiritual leader. A child cannot be afraid of me when we speak about his opening up to me. Moreover, I cannot have a role of somebody who uses commands. First, there must be responsible relationship, trustfulness, authority. God is not a trainer but Father who gives us some offers.
– One of the reasons for divorces is too much giving in to the temptation of resignation. How to bring up for faithfulness?
– Maintaining the attitude of a father or a friend, I cannot agree to the situation in which everything can be accepted. The Muslims often maintain extreme attitudes, but, undoubtedly their strength is based on the fact that they clearly proclaim unchangeable rules from which they will never resign. In a situation of the human weakness, we often forgive people when they resign from these or those tasks. However, we cannot allow for it. I come from a traditional family in which the Lent was followed very strictly. Nobody even thought that if a suitable age border was exceeded, one could allow for not keeping to fasting. My mum used to say that Friday is the day of Jesus’ death, so the Lent is something natural in this day. I was brought up in this atmosphere and I reached my age in which I did not have to keep to fasting, but I would not be able to eat meat on Friday. Therefore, I am surprised by tendencies of changing the Lent into such and such deeds. It is easily blurred in many cases: it is easy to eat meat and forget to do a good deed. It is similar in the formation for marriage when it is necessary to set such values, from which one will not resign. After all, the same concerns priestly or order’s formation. We must know from the beginning on which we must base in the future. If infidelity happens, we must be aware that infidelity is abnormal; it is pathological. Values are unchangeable and it cannot be blurred.
– We speak about broadly understood infidelity. How to learn in the context of forgiveness?
– If I had good intention while contracting a marriage, it means that I vowed for the good and bad. Young people love each other, but one day women will lose their youthful appearance, because they will give birth to children, and men will have their hair fall out or turn grey. One must return all the time to the thought that love is not a feeling but an act of will. It must be learnt throughout the whole life. I often tell fiancées that sacrament of marriage does not end the development of our love. The family is a school of love. We are going to learn this love as spouses and we will pass this lesson to our children till the end of our life. We must say clearly also in the case of a marriage betrayal: you hurt me but I look at you as my wife, whom I told that I would go with the whole life. Although it costs a lot, we must learn to forgive from the height of the Cross. Participating in the sacrament of penance, we often come with the same sins. One cannot be forced to forgive, but real love about which St. Paul said in the mentioned Letter to the Corinthians, is patient and will forgive. In one of religious oasis songs we sing: love means to raise oneself from sins.