Last week we spoke about how God instituted Marriage in the Old Testament, that it is between a man and a woman, because this is how God wants it. We noted that the family—man, woman and children— is the foundation of society.
When Jesus comes to earth he raises the union of man and a woman, both baptized, to the level of a Sacrament, one of these seven gifts that God has given to his Church.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church describes the Sacrament of Marriage in this way: “The matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament” (CCC 1601).
Pope Francis in The Joy of Love teaches us:
“The sacrament of Marriage is not a social convention, an empty ritual, or merely the outward sign of a commitment. The sacrament is a gift given for the sanctification and salvation of the spouses, since “their mutual belonging is a real representation, through the sacramental sign, of the same relationship between Christ and the Church…Marriage is a vocation, inasmuch as it is a response to a specific call to experience conjugal love as an imperfect sign of the love between Christ and the Church, consequently, the decision to marry and to have a family ought to be the fruit of a process of vocational discernment” (The Joy of Love, 72).
The Holy Father continues; “The sacrament is not a ‘thing’ or a ‘power’ for in it Christ himself ‘now encounters Christian spouses… He dwells with them. Gives them the strength to pick up their crosses and so follow him, to rise again after they have fallen, to forgive one another, to bear one another’s burdens.’” (The Joy of Love, 73).
“The love of the spouses requires, of its very nature, the unity and indissolubility of the spouses’ community of persons, which embraces their entire life: ‘so they are no longer two, but one flesh’. They ‘are called to grow continually in their communion through day-to-day fidelity to their marriage promise of total mutual self-giving’. This human communion is confirmed, purified, and completed by communion in Jesus Christ, given through the sacrament of Matrimony. It is deepened by lives of the common faith and by the Eucharist received together” (CCC 1644).
There are many quotes in Scripture that tell of the indissolubility of marriage, one of them is: “What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate” (Mark 10:9).
Let’s pray for all families, that God watch over them and protect them.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney
People today seem to be questioning what is a family?
The first two chapters of the book of Genesis tell us very clearly what the family should be and how it should be structured: “Then God said: ‘Let us make mankind in our image and likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, the cattle, over all the wild animals and every creature that crawls on the earth’. God created man in his image. In the image of God he created him. Male and female he created them.” (Genesis 1: 26-27).
In the second chapter of Genesis, verse 18 we read: “Then the LORD said, ‘It is not good that the man is alone. I will make him a helper like himself.’” It then continues speaking about the creation of Eve and says in verse 24: “For this reason a man leaves his father and mother, and clings to his wife, and the two become one flesh.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church also tells us about the fundamental structure of the family: “A man and a woman united in marriage, together with their children, form a family. This institution is prior to any recognition by public authority, which has an obligation to recognize it. It should be considered the normal reference point by which the different forms of family relationship are to be evaluated.” (CCC 2202).
It is not for the government or society in general, to change the structure of the family. It is God given, and to attempt to change it causes society to destroy itself. The task of the political community is to protect the family and to be sure that the culture in which we live promotes the family as God has planned it. (cfr. CCC 2211).
Pope Francis warns us:
“The Synod Fathers noted that ‘cultural tendencies in today’s world seem to set no limits on a person’s affectivity’; indeed, ‘a narcissistic, unstable or changeable affectivity does not always allow a person to grow to maturity’. They also expressed concern about the current ‘spread of pornography and the commercialization of the body, fostered also by a misuse of the Internet, and about those “reprehensible situations where people are forced into prostitution’. In this context, ‘couples are often uncertain, hesitant and struggling to find ways to grow. Many tend to remain in the early stages of their affective and sexual life. A crisis in a couple’s relationship destabilizes the family and may lead, through separation and divorce, to serious consequences for adults, children and society as a whole, weakening its individual and social bonds’. Marital problems are ‘often confronted in haste and without the courage to have patience and reflect, to make sacrifices and to forgive one another. Failures give rise to new relationships, new couples, new civil unions, and new marriages, creating family situations which are complex and problematic for the Christian life’” (Amoris Laetitia #41).
Let’s each of us pray for our own family and for all families, and realize that with God’s grace and clear doctrines to what a family is, so much good can be done to society.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney
The Second Vatican Council reminds us that Baptism is a call to sanctity and apostolate—a call to be a disciple.
A disciple is someone who follows Jesus to the most blessings and consequences. Is someone who takes Christ as his or her model and imitates Him. Is walking in the footsteps of the Master answering the question “what would Jesus do?”
In the same way that Jesus summoned the twelve apostles and later called upon seventy two more, He is calling us today. He is asking us to preach, to evangelize and to liberate the world from unclean spirits, to be active followers, bringing the good news and contributing in the construction of this Kingdom here on earth.
In our Baptism we were chosen to be part of God’s plan. We become adopted children through Jesus Christ. Sealed with the Holy Spirit, we were invited to be human beings (to be stewards of our humanity), to be Christians (to take care of our spiritual life), and to a vocation (to the life style in which the above is exorcised).
But what does discipleship looks like? Just look around. It looks like you, and this is the essence of our community. It looks like the parents who are trying to raise their children with Christian values. It looks like the senior members of our community who pray for a better world. It looks like our youngsters who struggle to do what is right in a society that encourages them no to do so. Discipleship is not limited to the walls of the church. It extends to our community, our neighborhood and our society. It means to treat anyone, regardless of their creed, ethnic origins or socio-economical position, with charity, justice and love. Just like Jesus did.
Fr. Hilary Mahaney
In Amoris Laetitia, the Pope reflects on 1 Corinthians 13 were St. Paul says that “love bears all things” (panta stégei). Christian meekness means “more than simply putting up with evil… [or] ‘holding one’s peace’… It implies limiting judgment, checking the impulse to issue a firm and ruthless condemnation: ‘Judge not and you will not be judged’” (Luke 6:37)” (Amoris Lætitia 112).
Avoiding critical and judgmental thoughts is really key to being Christ-like. Although we may not be able to control the thoughts that pop into our heads, when we become aware of those thoughts we need to react to them as we would impure thoughts: push them out of our mind… tell Our Lady that we don’t want to offend our Lord with these thoughts… put our minds on something else… keep busy. Critical thoughts are just as offensive to God as impure thoughts.
Those who do not have a meek mind we will do a lot of damage as those thoughts will leak out through their tongue. As the Holy Father warns:
“Although it runs contrary to the way we normally use our tongues, God’s word tells us: ‘Do not speak evil against one another, brothers and sisters’ (James 4:11). Being willing to speak ill of another person is a way of asserting ourselves, venting resentment and envy without concern for the harm we may do. We often forget that slander can be quite sinful; it is a grave offense against God when it seriously harms another person’s good name and causes damage that is hard to repair. Hence God’s word forthrightly states that the tongue ‘is a world of iniquity’ that ‘stains the whole body’ (James 3:6); it is a ‘restless evil, full of deadly poison’ (3:8). Whereas the tongue can be used to ‘curse those who are made in the likeness of God’ (3:9), love cherishes the good name of others, even one’s enemies. In seeking to uphold God’s law we must never forget this specific requirement of love” (Amoris Lætitia 112).
It is in marriage and the family that we learn the meekness to love, to think well of each other, to presume good will of one’s spouse even if he or she does something that frustrates us:
“Married couples joined by love speak well of each other; they try to show their spouse’s good side, not their weakness and faults. In any event, they keep silent rather than speak ill of them. This is not merely a way of acting in front of others; it springs from an interior attitude. Far from ingenuously claiming not to see the problems and weaknesses of others, it sees those weaknesses and faults in a wider context. It recognizes that these failings are a part of a bigger picture. We have to realize that all of us are a complex mixture of light and shadows. The other person is much more than the sum of the little things that annoy me” (Amoris Lætitia, 113).
Love does not let the faults and annoyances define the other person and the relationship. True love makes a choice to give of itself unconditionally. This enables us to see the wider context, which includes our Lord’s words: “Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40,45). Whatever a spouse does for the other he or she does to Christ, which helps see beyond the other person’s problems and weaknesses.
“Love does not have to be perfect for us to value it…, for he or she can neither play God nor serve all my needs. Love coexists with imperfection. It ‘bears all things’ and can hold its peace before the limitations of the loved one” (Amoris Lætitia, 113).
In this way we purify our love, make it more altruistic and merciful… we become more God-like as we learn to love others as he has loved us.
Fr. John R. Waiss
If someone were to ask us, what is the purpose of the Church? I think we would all say to get people to heaven. Baptism makes us members of the Church, and we all have a role in helping people to reach heaven.
The Second Vatican Council teaches this very clearly: “For the Christian vocation by its very nature is a vocation to the apostolate”. (Decree on the Apostolate of the Laity No 2).
People who have a job in the middle of the world have an essential role to play in having society be more the way Christ wants it to be. The Dogmatic Constitution on the Church of Vatican II states about the vocation of the laity:
“But the laity, by their very vocation, seek the kingdom of God by engaging in temporal affairs and by ordering them according to the plan of God. They live in the world, that is, in each and in all of the secular professions and occupations. They live in the ordinary circumstances of family and social life, from which the very web of their existence is woven. They are called there by God that by exercising their proper function and led by the spirit of the Gospel they may work for the sanctification of the world from within as a leaven. In this way they may make Christ known to others, especially by the testimony of a life resplendent in faith, hope and charity.” (Lumen Gentium, Chapter IV, No. 31).
In all professions and trades, Christ wants doctors, lawyers, tradesmen, homemakers, students, etc., to radiate the message and Christian life style. It is very important to do our work as well as we can, while fulfilling family obligations and other responsibilities that we have.
To live our roll as apostles a life of prayer is necessary. It is the foundation of apostolic action.
St. Josemaría tells us in The Way No. 301: “A secret, an open secret: these world crises are crises of saints. God wants a handful of men ‘of his own’ in every human activity. And then… ‘pax Christi in regno Christi — the peace of Christ in the kingdom of Christ’.”
Pope Francis describes how this can be done:
“Today, as the Church seeks to experience a profound missionary renewal, there is a kind of preaching which falls to each of us as a daily responsibility. It has to do with bringing the Gospel to the people we meet, whether they be our neighbors or complete strangers. This is the informal preaching, which takes place in the middle of a conversation, something along the lines of what a missionary does when visiting a home. Being a disciple means being constantly ready to bring the love of Jesus to others, and this can happen unexpectedly and in any place: on the street, in a city square, during work, on a journey.” (Joy of the Gospel-Evangelii Gaudium, No 127).
Fr. Hilary Mahaney