Non-Political Truths of Marriage
A marriage is a marriage because a man and a woman make vows to God. Getting married is, fundamentally, an act of faith in God. And getting married always involves not just the two individuals, but also their families, the children the Lord pleases to give them, and all the people who will relate to them thenceforward as a married couple. [SPANISH]
The idea that the laws of marriage could ever be the subject of political dispute? Marriage as a political hot potato? That strikes us Catholics as strange and shallow. Marriage is not a “political issue.” Marriage is what Jesus Christ said it is: 1. God made us male and female. 2. A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh. 3. What God has joined together, let no man separate.
Marriage is not “political.” It is beautiful. Man and wife, united in an unbreakable bond, reflect the love between Christ and His holy People. Husband and wife, faithful through all trials, persevering through setbacks and defeats they never could have anticipated, but never giving up—that offers hope. That offers convincing testimony to the truth of the Catholic faith.
I don’t think I go too far when I say: The faithfulness of husbands and wives makes the world beautiful and trustworthy. Faithfulness made possible by the grace of God, delivered through the sacrament.
Marriage is not “political.” Marriage is spiritual. Discerning the will of God about marriage requires prayer and the regular, sustained practice of our religion. Remaining faithful in marriage requires prayer and the sustained practice of our religion.
And remaining faithful requires embracing the Cross. The world has never seen a marriage that didn’t involve a Via Crucis. If you won’t walk with Christ the Way of the Cross, don’t get married. That said, no one can get to heaven without walking the Via Crucis with Christ. So we all might as well prepare ourselves to follow the Way of the Cross, whether or not we have any thought of getting married.
Marriage is not “political.” But it is legal. Laws can cut like razors, both for good or ill, depending on your point of view. Without following the laws of marriage, you can’t obtain the sacramental grace of marriage. And no one loses the freedom to marry in a scenario in which the laws of marriage didn’t get followed.
Some people think the Church’s marriage laws are too strict, making it difficult to get married in church. Some people think they’re too lax, allowing for too many annulments. No one says that the laws are perfect. But they are fundamentally reasonable.
You have to be mature and clear-minded in order to bring about the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. Once that happens, it lasts until death. But sometimes it doesn’t happen, even when a couple tries to make it happen. Because they didn’t meet the legal criteria.
Which means that there is nothing faithless or unspiritual about petitioning for an annulment when you have a solid case for obtaining one. And there’s nothing faithless or unspiritual about Church tribunals granting decrees of nullity in accord with the law.
That said, there certainly is nothing faithful or spiritual about the kind of pride that would lead someone to try to grant him- or herself an annulment. Or the kind of pride that would refuse to seek an annulment when the law would provide for one.
Marriage is not “political.” But, by the same token, it is also not eternal. Christ was made lower than the angels “for a little while.” A man and a woman get married, and live the Christian married life, until death do them part, beautifying the world at every step… But it all lasts only a little while. In the grand scheme of things.
Some choose not to marry because they have no faith and would rather just skate along. Some don’t marry because they won’t make a commitment to love like Christ. Or they don’t know how. These aren’t worthy reasons.
But some choose not to marry because eternal life beckons. Even now, the Kingdom of Christ the God-man beckons. Not marrying because of that doesn’t mean rejecting love. It means embracing the Love that made them male and female in the first place.
Back in the 90’s, when I was young, I liked a particular female rock singer. She of course had a song bitterly excoriating her boyfriend who had left her for another woman. She sang, “And does she know how you told me you’d hold me until you died? But you’re still alive.”
The father in the parable we read at Sunday Mass might have his own version of this song, in which he would sing to his second son, “Son, don’t you know that you told me you’d work in my vineyard today? But you’re still in your room.”
Let your Yes mean yes—anything else is from the evil one, saith the Lord. Eager and well-meaning people can get themselves into a lot of trouble by making beautiful promises, and then not keeping them.
Next month our Holy Father, Pope Francis, will meet in Synod with bishops, theologians, and married people from all over the world. At this Sunday’s Mass we pray especially for the success of the Synod. The Synod will discuss marriage and family life in our times, the age of the New Evangelization.
If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal. (I Cor 13:1)
All Christians clearly must take a stand for a few things in our day and age. Among these, “traditional marriage” has a nice ring to it. And we can take heart from the fact that statewide referenda have thus far defeated the idea of “same-sex marriage” 32 out of 32 times.
But if we really want to bear witness to divine love–the divine love we read about in St. Paul’s letter at practically every wedding–we have to dig deeper.
It’s not just that marriage is between one man and one woman. There’s also the fact that it involves a bond that only death can break. What God has joined together, let no man put asunder.
Still we have to keep digging. Why get married? According to God, the reason is clear enough: Be fruitful and multiply. Onan wasted his seed on the ground; what he did greatly displeased God (Genesis 38:10).
So: Marriage is not just between a man and a woman. It is between a man and a woman for life; for richer, for poorer, sickness, health, as long as we both shall live. And marriage is a partnership of the whole of life, in which the man and woman become one flesh, without impediments of any kind (barrier, chemical) being admitted to the marriage of true minds.
Forgive me; I can’t help it: the idea of “gay marriage” strikes me as simply ridiculous. How can anyone take it seriously? Maybe one reason is because there is so much divorce these days. Some people have gotten the idea that marriage is nothing but an arrangement for my enjoyment which I make at will and control at will. A false idea indeed. But can we doubt that a lot of people have come by this idea honestly, because that’s what they see when they look around?
So we have to keep digging. Why are there so many divorces? Is it because the marrying public these days is so much more wicked than in the old days? Maybe. But such an explanation does not altogether satisfy. The Church Herself has granted annulments in many of these cases, which means that the spouses involved are not in fact bound by the vows they rashly made, and neither of them is necessarily wicked.
It seems to me that the whole contemporary “marriage problem” lies at the beginning of marriages. The perennial fact is: it is not easy to marry the right person. To enter prudently into marriage requires prayerful discernment over a significant period of time; it requires the discipline of chastity; it requires mature faith in God.
Thanks be to God, the Church possesses this art, the art of marrying wisely and well. It really isn’t anything too complicated. It’s just a matter of following our rules, living a life of prayer, staying out of potentially dangerous situations, and—above all—nourishing and strengthening oneself with the sacraments, especially the sacrament of Penance. The faithful lives of countless married Christians bear witness to the successful application of the Christian method of marrying.
So I guess what I am saying is: I don’t think the world needs us just to be opposed to “same-sex marriage,” which of course we are. The world needs us to give freely one of the gifts that has freely been given to us: the humble and quiet art of knowing how to get married.
Red Rocks + Sunday Homily
Cannot tell you what a comfort it is to turn on the radio and listen to the eager Canadian voice of Steve Kolbe.
The Caps are tearing it up, people!
God made them male and female.
…A man leaves his father and mother and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh…
What God has joined together, no human being must separate.
(Mark 10:6-8, 12)
In his teaching, our Holy Father Pope Benedict insists on certain ideas over and over again. One of them is: Religion is not purely private.
Laetare Sunday Homily: Anger, Lust
Lent is a special time for us to do battle with sin. The Lord pours out special graces during these forty days, so that we can become holier. Today let’s focus on the vices of anger and lust.
The most famous verse in the Bible: God so loved the world that He gave His only Son (John 3:16). The Lord would have been justified in condemning the human race long ago. He would have been within His rights to visit His rage upon the earth. But pity stays His hand. He waits patiently for us to repent.
Patience is the proof of love. The Sacred Heart of Christ is a bottomless well of patience. The Lord patiently submitted Himself to unjust men and then bore the bitterness of His Passion without complaint.
Holy Family Sunday
2) Environmentalist Pope Benedict says no to “gender ideology”:
The Creator helps Christians to understand our responsibility toward the earth. It is not simply our property to be exploited according to our interests and desires. Rather, it is a gift of the Creator.
However, concern for God’s creation cannot be limited to care for the natural environment– although that is certainly a part of it. Far more important is the Church’s mission to preserve the ecology of the human being, understood in the proper manner. The Church must teach clearly about the nature of the human person, to counteract the influence of secular ideologies that confuse and diminish human dignity. God created man and woman as complementary, and the Church demands that this order of creation be respected by promotion of marriage and family life.
3) Your servant’s Holy Family Sunday homily:
In the beginning, God created mankind. Then, in the fullness of time, He became man. In the beginning, He made man and woman to be a family. In the fullness of time, He became a member of a family.