St John's Co-Cathedral, 13 January 1996

A meeting with Archbishop Mgr. Joseph Mercieca was organised by the Cana Movement for couples married during 1995, for the Feast of the Family and on the occasion of the fortieth anniversary from the foundation of the Movement.

Mgr Mercieca led a concelebrated Mass. After the service, the Archbishop spoke to the newly-weds and presented them with a token.

Sound foundations for true living as a family
I thank you for accepting my invitation for us to meet together with the Lord at the beginning of your married life. We are here before the Lord to give thanks to him for the great grace he has imparted to you when you matured in your love towards each other and you proceeded to bind yourselves together in the permanent bond of Christian marriage. We also thank the Lord because God is a great guarantee to you that your love for each other will always be cherished by you and will be a help to you in the fulfilment of the mission that God has entrusted to you as Christian married couples. God demands from you that your married life should give witness to the love with which Christ himself loves us all.

An Offering to God
In the course of this celebration you will offer your commitment to the Lord in a perfect union with the offering of Jesus Himself. Such an offering will surely be pleasing and acceptable to God.Your offering, which will be blessed by God Himself, demonstrates that you are committing yourself so that the light is a demonstration of your determined choice to live together the married life according to God's will for you. When we live according to God's will we will be ensuring the presence of peace and quite in our hearts. This does not mean that your married life will be free from dificulties, problems and suffering. Jesus himself during his life on earth, went through all that we experience in our lives. However, through his own life, Jesus showed us that when man is union with man, he finds the true sense of life, also in times of trial and sacrifice. God, who has entrusted to you the mission of building up a Christian family, will surely give you His assistance. We can see a proof of this in our own country in the big number of families, that in spite of all difficulties, make every effort to live their married life according to God's will.Such families find their moral strength in praying together and for one another and in participating in the Sacraments. This way of life is an aid to them in accepting God's grace that helps them to strenghten their love and union among themselves by being ready to understand, sympathise with and forgive one another, if neccessary everyday and at the cost of any sacrifice. It is also a help to married couples so that they are not deceived and do not seek vanity of models of marriage which are proposed by the present times, with their permissibility, among them trial marriages.

Importance of attention to children

The union of married couples with God and their love for each other are directed towards the procreation and education of the children, that God wills to give them.

In the Christian family, children take the first place.It is a good thing for couples to seek to have a nice, comfortable and well-furnished home. There is nothing wrong in such a thing, provided that one keeps the balance and is not lost in exaggerations. Not only that, but a home is most necessary so that the members of the family may grow in love and unity among themselves and so that children may find the protection and affection, which they merit. However, married couples should be extremely careful in their concern about their home and its furnishing, and in the face of the temptation that they should continue to live in the same style of life, to which they have been accustomed before their marriage or in the way their companions are living. Everyone loves children, At the beginning of marriage, everyone desires and expects them. Howeverm, if one is not careful, one may gradually come to regard a new baby in the family as a burden and a problem, instead of a gift from god and an immeasurable value that outshines any other material gain that man may acquire. We all need help. So that this may not happen, it is necessary, in the first place, that married couples help themselves. It is also necessary, especially in the case of newly-weds that they obtain the assistance of everyone, -- of their neighbours and their friends, of the Church and of the State. It is precisely for this reason that the church insists ever more on pastoral work in favour of the family -- in the first place on an early, sound and solid preparation for marriage so that, among other things, married couples may learn how to make good choices, while maturing in a sense of sacrifice.

It is precisely for this reason that the Church insists that the aid and the support given by the State to the family should be strong enough that married couples do not lose heart at the arrival of children and so that the time they dedicate to their children may not be to limited, and pehaps restricted to the times when their children are already in bed. The harm, that children suffer when they lack the physical presence and the competent care of their parents especially in the first years of their upbringing, remains with these children throughout all their lives. through such harm it is society that suffers too. Hence society has every interest and duty to give its help to the family, which is the fundamental cell of society, so that it may lead a sound life. In this context, the Church cannot refrain from rejoicing every time she sees the State striving to help the family live its true life as a family. A clear-sighted society seeks to perceive what families need today and will need in the future in order to help them in the best way possible.

Acquiring a house for the family

A great problem that has to be faced by many newly-weds and young people preparing for marriage, is that of acquiring a house where they can live. At a time of strong competition in the prices of land and of houses, newly-weds need all the social help which the State is in a position of giving them. The social measures that the State takes should be of enough benefit to married couples so that in the building or buying of an adequate house, they are not burdened with expenses that for many years will disrupt their possibility of truly living as a family. The State should also provide for the measures that need to be taken so that couples who like to rent a place for their residence would be able to do so against a payment of a rent which would not be too great a burden for them, while at the same time justice is done with the owner of the place. Our society, as can be seen from the measures that have been taken in the course of time and their continual betterment, is very sensitive to the need that the family be given the help and support it needs. This fact is greatly appreciated. At the same time, however, we should not lose sight of the fact that we cannot allege that nothing else remains to be done. A country that understands the great value of a strong and united family, should not stop to do its best so that the family may be given the highest priority. We pray to God to continue to give his help to all our families and to us all so that we shallever more make every effort so that the Maltese family may be truly the family as willed by God.