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Document Details :
Title: Le mariage aujourd'hui
Subtitle: Défis et chances pour la pastorale, la théologie et la spiritualité dans une perspective catholique
Author(s): KNIEPS-PORT LE ROI, Thomas
Journal: Marriage, Families & Spirituality
Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Date: 2012
Looking at the state of marriage in postmodern Western Europe the author observes that although marriage is in decline and has lost many of its functions, it is more resilient than one would expect: a surprising number of people still value marriage and especially its symbolic meaning. Notwithstanding individualistic attitudes that make people consider divorce as a possible outcome right from the start, they cherish the model of a committed, life-long relationship and even the prestige associated with formal marriage. A recent small-scale survey carried out in England revealed three major motives for having a religious marriage: some couples see it as a 'sign of contradiction', others as a 'symbol of commitment', and still others as a 'sacrament of ambition', the latter meaning that they believe in the transformative power of a church wedding. These three motivational clusters inspire the author to propose three corresponding theses in the spheres of (pastoral) theology and spirituality. (1) People wishing a religious marriage often do not or only occasionally participate in church life and most of them do not realize or understand the concept of sacramental marriage. Nevertheless, they are well prepared to conclude a sacramental marriage from an existential and ethical point of view. The challenge for catholic marriage preparation is to find ways to link the theological meaning of sacramental marriage to future spouses’ life experience and their conscious choice to commit themselves against the odds to an exclusive, faithful, indissoluble and fruitful relationship. (2) Traditional theology of sacramental marriage uses static concepts of partner relationship and conjugal life. Theologians are invited to envision relationships more dynamically and take the exchange of marriage vows as a moment in which God’s presence is celebrated now, and promised for the evolving relationship that has already come a long way and continues to develop towards an incontrollable future. (3) As a specific context for meeting God, marital (and family) life requires an appropriate religious praxis and spirituality that is neither a poor imitation of, nor competing with the hitherto dominating models of monastic and clerical (celibate) spirituality.