She said: Why would we talk to a priest; he’s never been married? How would he know how to help a marriage?
You may be surprised to know that priests know quite a bit about marriage. Let’s remember that priests do not come into the world as ordained men. They are born as a son who has a mother and father. Many come from a family that flows from a sacramental marriage. They grow up watching their parents interact and contributing to the function or dysfunction of their clan. Many can tell you what it feels like when their parents’ marriage is filled with joy and what it’s like when times are tough.
Here’s something else to consider: Many priests have siblings who are married. They are uncles and brother-in-laws who often experience the good, bad and ugly facets of marriage and family life via their sisters and brothers.
One last point: Most priests care for a parish family, where they are called to heal relationships that exist between couples or families. Sometimes they are able to offer direct counseling and support; other times they refer parishioners to other resources and counseling options.
Priests know a thing or two about marriage because they have seen a thing or two!
I do understand the concern, though, about talking to a priest. It is never easy to bear one’s soul and share what isn’t working. But the real concern is that the priest is a steward of God’s truth about marriage. When you go to a priest, you are acknowledging that he has a solemn duty to share the truth.
Many of God’s teachings about married love are difficult; they are not easy to embrace. That may be the real reason we hesitate to talk with a priest. We rationalize that if we don’t ask, then we can continue living just as we have been. But, if we ask and we find out the truth, then we might have to change.
You may consider it intimidating to talk with a priest who does know a lot about marriage and what God intends for married couples. My hope is that you will consider the counsel of a priest as an opportunity; that you will seek and embrace the truth, even if the truth hurts.
By Alice Heinzen, Director of the Office for Marriage and Family Life