“Honour thy father and thy mother.” In the practice of our religion our blood family has first call on our commitment, but not in an absolute or unqualified way. There is a danger of making a false god out of family life, thinking that the immediate family is all that matters. We can be so self-engrossed in our own natural family that we risk ignoring wider issues and  the needs of others. Exaggerated fixation on our blood family can also weaken our sense of duty to the greater family, God’s family, His Holy Church.

Throughout twenty centuries of consistent Catholic teaching, marriage and family life have never been compulsory. It is natural and good that many choose it, but the single life is an equally valid option. For the baptized, the options are either, unmitigated monogamy, or unmitigated celibacy. Both vocations are rich in blessings and rich in crosses.

The single life should never be regarded as spiritually second best. Those who choose the single life are not second class Catholics. In fact, remaining single can often be the more generous option. Whether our lives revolve around spouse and children, or around friends and neighbours, all those relationships are secondary to our primary relationship with the Lord.

Who is the most important person in my life? All of us without exception should give the Holy Name in reply; the Name above all other names, the Name which brings us heaven on earth, the Name which promises eternal life, the Name of Him Who is the true Spouse of every human soul, man or woman, married or single, young or old.