I invite you to take a look at family life in one of our foreign missions, namely the Malagasy Republic (Madagascar). A family is most commonly defined as consisting of parents and their children. There, marriage does not give rise to a new, distinct entity, but serves chiefly to continue the life of the broader family.
I have been fortunate in having had the opportunity to speak at length on this matter with five La Salette Missionaries from Madagascar, on different occasions. It provides for a flow of life, that the life received from the ancestors will be passed on from generation to generation.
Let us suppose, however, that a girl was baptized as a little child, and now is in her middle teens.
Donald Pelletier – I would like to acknowledge also Fr. In Western society, marriage is generally the starting point of a distinct new family, which is self-sufficient, with a legitimate claim to goods and property of its own.
To all of these La Salettes I am most grateful, and I am very happy to share their reflections and insights.
As a matter of fact, Malagasy society was for a long time matriarchal, and the island was ruled by queens.
For all the clear distinction of roles, women are treated as equals, and have a full voice in all family deliberations. Either the boy and girl did not have the time really to get to know each other – they may never have met before they started living together – and now they discover they are incompatible; or, once there are children, the wife gives all her attention to them, to the exclusion of her husband, who then will look elsewhere for the satisfaction of his needs, and “the other woman” enters the picture. The tribal marriage may be followed by a civil ceremony.
The traditional approach to marriage is progressive.
Second, if the young man and woman are getting along, they may indicate a desire to enter into a more formal relationship.
In a total population of 8.5 million, there is not a single orphanage!
Malagasy “families” are stable, and this for various reasons.
It is actually more like an annulment, acknowledging that this was not a question of “a chicken and its feathers” in the first place. The reason for this division goes back to the work in the rice field.