People of one place in this world do not have to imagine.
In the town of Siroki-Brijeg in Herzegovina not one of the 13,000 inhabitants can recall a single divorce or broken family.
What is their secret? One look at their marriage rite says it all.
When the bride and bridegroom go to the church to be married they carry a crucifix with them. The priest blesses the crucifix and exclaims, “You have found your cross! It is a cross to love, to carry with you, a cross that is not thrown off but rather treasured.”
When they interchange the marital vows, the bride puts her right hand on this crucifix and the groom puts his right hand over hers. Both are united to the cross. The priest covers their hands with his stole while they pronounce their promises to love each other in good times and in bad.
Then they both first kiss the cross, not each other. If one abandons the other, they abandon Christ on the cross.
Afterwards, the newly-weds cross the threshold of their home to enthrone that same crucifix in a place of honor. It becomes the reference point of their lives and the place of family prayer.
In times of difficulty and misunderstandings, as all human relationships experience, they do not turn immediately to the lawyer or psychologist, they turn to the cross. They kneel, cry and open up their hearts begging for the strength to pardon and implore the Lord’s help.
The children are taught to reverently kiss the crucifix daily and to thank him for the day before going to bed. These children dream of enthroning one day a crucifix of their own.
The family is indissolubly united to the cross of Christ. Is this simply a morbid outlook on marital and family life? Or is it a piece of wisdom that few in our modern world can understand. Until our world does, it will continue to imagine and long for the unbroken hearth.