|The LORD was witness to the covenant between you and the wife of your
youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and
your wife by covenant. Has not the one God made and sustained us for the
spirit of life? And what does he desire? Godly offspring. So take heed
to yourselves, and let none be faithless to the wife of his youth. For I
hate divorce, says the LORD God of Israel. (Malachi
SAINT JOSEPH'S COVENANT KEEPERS is an informal international network
of Christian men, under the patronage of St. Joseph, dedicated to
strengthening the family as expressed in the eight commitments listed
below. The primary mission of Saint Joseph's Covenant Keepers is to men
who are fathers of children still living at home. Participation,
however, is open to Christian men of all ages, callings, and states in
life who are in agreement with and willing to promote the eight
commitments of Saint Joseph's Covenant Keepers. (Obviously, several
areas of the eight commitments will not apply to single men. Yet, we
still ask for their willingness to promote these commitments in
Organizational sponsorship for Saint Joseph's Covenant Keepers is
provided by the Family Life Center International, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit
corporation. We expressly do not want Saint Joseph's Covenant Keepers to
be a top-heavy organization that becomes a focus and activity center for
men. Our explicit desire is for men to focus on their own families. As
Pope John Paul II said, "The future of the world and of the Church
passes through the family." We believe that the family is vastly
superior to any organization in its ability to renew both the Church and
society. Therefore, any activities in small men's groups, parish
organizations, or regional and national rallies will be for the purpose
of equipping and encouraging men for more effective service within their
As St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers, we are not concerned with just our
own families. We will also strive for a Christ-like concern for the
spiritual and material welfare of other families in our community, in
our parish, and throughout the world.
These eight commitments are not easy to follow, just as following
Christ in any area of life takes one down the narrow road. The broad way
appears easy. In reality, it only serves to lure the unsuspecting down
the path of heartache and overwhelming hardship. Watered-down attempts
to prop up contemporary family life are doomed in the face of modern
pressures against marriage and the family. The solution to the family's
needs of our day begins with a call to husbands and fathers to follow
the high calling of Christian fatherhood.
1. Following St. Joseph — the loving leader and head of the Holy
St. Joseph, after the Blessed Virgin Mary, is the greatest of all
saints in heaven. His greatness in God's plan stems from being the
husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary and from being the father of Jesus
Christ in the fullest sense, except for physical generation. As Catholic
men, we will seek his intercession, along with that of the Blessed
Virgin Mary, to fulfill our calling of leading our families to be like
the Holy Family.
As husbands and fathers, we commit ourselves to being loving leaders
and heads of our families following the examples of St. Joseph in
serving the Holy Family and Christ's humble service to the Church, His
We will neither irresponsibly abandon our leadership role within our
families, nor abuse our leadership role through sinful domination and
domestic tyranny. Along with the affirmation of the headship of husbands
and fathers in a family, we simultaneously affirm the perfect and
complete equality between husbands and wives.
2. Loving our wives all our lives
As covenant keepers, we believe that a lawful Christian marriage is
indissoluble. We believe that the sacrament of marriage is a lifelong
covenant bond made possible by the abundant graces available in the New
Covenant. We do not believe that marriage is a breakable contract. The
indissolubility of the marriage covenant is the foundation for marriage
and for the future of the family. As fathers, we realize that the
greatest gift we can ever give our children is faithfulness to our
We believe that a willful divorce from a lawful marriage is
covenant-breaking in the most profound sense. If problems arise within
our marriages we will seek help to heal our marriages and not seek
divorce. We will help others to do the same. We will also take steps to
keep our marriages strong even when serious marital problems are absent.
To help maintain lifelong covenant faithfulness to our wives, we will
avoid occasions that may lead to the sin of adultery.
3. Affirming Christ's Lordship over our families
As the leaders of our families, we will explicitly acknowledge the
social kingship of Christ over our families. Towards this end we will
have a home enthronement of the Sacred Heart of Jesus that we renew
annually. We believe that the enthronement of the Sacred Heart deepens
family life by bringing about a greater love between the Heart of Jesus
and the hearts of parents and children. To invite Christ's loving
Lordship and presence in our family we will seek to have daily family
prayer and Scriptures read aloud in the home. At least weekly on the
Lord's Day, our family will worship together and receive Christ in the
Eucharist, the ultimate source of our family life and unity.
4. Turning our hearts toward our children
It is common for modern fathers to have their hearts drawn to the
pursuit of wealth, personal pleasures, and pastimes. As St. Joseph's
Covenant Keepers, we will turn our hearts toward our children. This
turning of heart, mind, and priorities will be especially reflected in
the time we devote to our children. We realize that, for our children,
love is a four-letter word spelled "t-i-m-e." Since time is
money in the modern world, we need to value our children more than money
and make them a higher priority.
5. Educating our children in the discipline and instruction of the
Parents are the first and primary educators of their children.
Fathers are particularly singled out in Scripture for the religious
education and training of their children (Genesis 18:19; Psalm 78;
Ephesians 6:4). This high privilege and duty of fathers teaching the
faith to their children will result in a faith that will persevere
through adolescent questionings, peer pressure, and university life.
6. Protecting our families
As fathers, we will protect our families from physical, spiritual,
and moral harm. We will take personal responsibility, and an active role
to preserve our children's chastity. We will protect them from
everything that disturbs or destroys the fragile nature of our
children's sexual latency, innocence, and purity.
7. Providing for our families
As fathers, we will assume the primary responsibility for the
financial provision of our families. We will seek to learn and to apply
Christian principles of financial stewardship within our families.
Whenever possible, we will seek to provide the maximum opportunity for
our wives to nurture our children at home.
8. Building our marriages and families on the Rock
As St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers, we will seek to build our homes on
the Rock by following the teachings of the successors of St. Peter. We
will seek to learn and to live by the historically rooted Church
teachings on marriage, family, and human sexuality.
This includes the Church's teaching on birth control. Those who
practice the Church's teaching have a divorce rate of less than 5%.
Those who are following the Creator's plan for marriage are discovering
a powerful strengthening of their marriages. Conversely, a skyrocketing
divorce rate has closely paralleled disregard for Church teaching on
St. Joseph's Covenant Keepers have a rare opportunity at this
historical crossroads to literally change the world and the Church by
bringing change to the family. The indissolubility of the marriage bond
is the irreplaceable foundation for covenant keeping in family life.
Christian charity for the welfare of families demands that we resist the
alluring temptation to sidestep this truth. Like Malachi, we need to be
faithful messengers of lifelong covenant keeping.