Fidelity.

blue-eye

As you begin reading this blog post you may think it is going to be about faithfulness in marriage. Well its not. It is faithfulness in another relationship: our relationship with Christ.

You see, our God is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14). He made us to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven (Baltimore catechism). In fact He considers our relationship with Him to be so atomically crucial that he made it the subject of His first commandment:

1. I am the LORD your God: you shall not have strange Gods before me.

God wants to be in First Place in our lives. But He wont force us. It is up to us to put Him in first place. And if He is not in the First Place in our lives, then what or who is? Because what ever or who ever it is, has become an idol. Man commits idolatry whenever he honours and reveres a creature in place of God (CCC 2113).

I think perhaps the most difficult area to recognise idolatry is in the relationships we have with other human beings. I know that in my life I have certainly been involved in friendships and relationships that were not right in the eyes of God. And I knew it. But I didn’t want to let the other person go. That person was fulfilling a seriously deep seated need in me. I guess this is why I feel pity for Monsignor Krysztof Charamsa.

Monsignor-Krysztof-Charamsa

Many comments I have read concerning this man have been derogatory at best. People refuse to see beyond the brazen arrogance and disrespect that he flaunts, as he cheerfully chassis along like an 18 year old débutante at her coming out party. And of course that is exactly how he planned and wanted to be seen on the eve of the family synod. But if you look deeper within, you simply see a priest struggling with celibacy, and giving into same sex attraction. It’s nothing more than that.

When asked how he went from denial to being happy about being gay he replied: “Through study, prayer and reflection. A dialogue with God and the study of theology, philosophy and science were crucial. Moreover, I now have a partner who has helped me transform my fears into the power of love… There comes a day when something inside you snaps, and you can’t go on.”

This says to me that Krysztof Charamsa definitely does still have a relationship with God, it’s just that it is all on his terms. His understanding of the word love doesn’t really seem to be reflecting Christ crucified. And his last sentence clearly shows that the day did come when he finally decided to put down his cross and champion his own wants and desires.

Without a doubt he has been given a very heavy cross to bear in the form of SSA, but quite frankly that doesn’t really matter anyway because when he entered the priesthood he freely chose a life of celibacy! I feel so sad that rather than abandoning himself entirely to God, he has instead spent years convincing himself that he is in the right and the church is in the wrong. Ultimately it comes down to the fact that there is something wrong somewhere in his relationship with Christ. The fidelity is gone.

We live in a culture in which we constantly search to satisfy our every need. And we expect others to do that for us: physically, financially, mentally, sexually, emotionally and spiritually. Oh what a life of utilitarian ecstasy! But the truth is that not one person on this entire planet will ever, ever be able to fill that God shaped hole in your heart. Not your spouse, or your kids, or your friends or your parents or anyone. No-one can take the place of God in our lives. But we quite often expect them to. We elevate people way beyond their ‘pay grades’ in terms of satisfying us. In actual fact all we are doing is making them into false idols. Is it any wonder so many marriages fail now? We are actually expecting our spouses to satisfy us in the way that only God can!

Let me tell you something: Your spouse is not God! Your gay partner is not God! Your kids are not God! Your friends are not God! If God does not come first in your relationships with others then something is wrong. If we make each other into false idols then what does that do to our relationship with Christ? The fidelity is gone.

You see, our God is a jealous God. He wants to be in First Place in our lives because ultimately our eternal destiny lies with Him. But He wont force us, because you can’t force love. Love is a choice. Love is the cross.

Of course the ultimate example of fidelity to God the Father and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is Mary. She describes herself as the handmaid of the Lord – His loyal and obedient servant. And as she took up her own crosses in her life, followed her Son to calvary and stood at the foot of His cross, she showed us how to put God first. Which is why I ask her now to take me, and Krysztof Charamsa under her sweet mantle and gently lead us back into a correct relationship of fidelity with her Son.

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Pope outlines several new types of contraception for Catholics.

FrancisPlane

In an unprecedented interview yesterday Pope Francis reminded Catholics that they are not supposed to “breed like rabbits” and then went on to outline several newly acceptable forms of contraception.

When asked about birth control by Italian journalist Dolmio De Fungi, the Holy Father said “We should not be breeding like rabbits” and then unusually went onto clarify: “When I say ‘we’ I mean ‘you’, not me – I’m the Pope, and besides, we are both men!”

The Holy Father then went on to say “There are several types of Vatican approved contraception available to Catholics that are completely in line with Gods plan for Marriage and Family life: Dressing gown and slippers for example.”

When asked how reliable ‘dressing gown and slippers’ was in regards to limiting pregnancies within marriage, the Pope answered “Remarkably effective. Scientific studies show that when used in conjunction with other acceptable forms of contraception such as rollers and hair-nets or Avocado face packs, there is almost zero chance of sexual intercourse occurring.”

St. Dorothy of Cotton, an Avocado face pack, and St. Nora Batty - patron saint of remaining hostile towards male advances.

St. Dorothy of Cotton, an Avocado face pack, and St. Nora Batty – patron saint of remaining hostile towards male advances.

“And it’s not just the responsibility of the woman.” The Holy Father revealed. “Husbands too must take responsibility for limiting the amount of children in their families.” He went on to quote an often overlooked section of the  Catechism of the Catholic Church saying that “CCC9560 paragraph 2 states that: wearing a ‘socks and sandals’ combo, forgetting her birthday, lounging around on the sofa all day and farting in bed are all totally acceptable forms of male contraception.”

“What about onesie’s?” asked journalist Dolmio De Fungi.

“Mortal sin.” replied the Holy Father. “There is nothing funny about dressing up in a giant romper suit. We are trying to limit the number of babies – not dress in their clothes. And besides, they are totally impractical when you get up in the middle of the night needing the loo.” 

Two former Catholics (now excommunicated) wearing mortally sinful matching onesie's.

Two former Catholics (now excommunicated) wearing mortally sinful matching onesie’s.

When asked if it was really morally acceptable for a woman to go about the house in dressing gown and slippers all day in an attempt to look as unattractive as possible, the Holy Father answered “Maybe she’s had a hard day? Maybe the kids have been driving her mad for hours and hours? Maybe she has a headache? I don’t know – who am I to judge?”

Many Catholic Marriages invalid.

With all the hype surrounding the upcoming synod later this year, one issue has been bugging me:

Communion for the divorced and re-married.

I have heard the ‘pro’ arguments from Cardinal Walter Kasper and such like, and i have heard the ‘against’ arguments from Rome and Cardinal Thomas Collins of Toronto .

But no-one has spoken about the big bad elephants in the room yet: 

1. How can the Bishops expect people to foster a happy and successful Catholic marriages if they give then no proper marriage prep, and no ongoing support?

2. How can the Bishops expect couples to understand the indissolubility of a sacramental union if (due to complete lack of adult formation) they don’t even know what a sacrament is?

3. Why have the Bishops not put proper ongoing practical measures in place to protect and support the Catholics they are responsible for, who are in mixed marriages?

4. Why have the Bishops not promoted and explained the central importance of NFP in a Catholic marriage?

elephant-in-room

I am not trying to alleviate all responsibility from people who decide to divorce and remarry, and there are certainly many who knew exactly what they were doing and the consequences of their actions – but my honest belief is that many, many more didn’t know what they were getting themselves into when they got married in a Catholic church.

When i got married 14 years ago we had a ‘nice’ marriage prep course about resolving conflict and speaking your partners “love language” (i kid you not…) There was no mention of NFP and no mention of what a sacramental union actually is.

I got married under the impression that Catholics are not allowed to get divorced – which is of course false! (Catholics can get divorced, we just can’t remarry.) I had absolutely no idea whatsoever that if you did remarry you could not receive Holy Eucharist. I had no idea what an annulment was. I wasn’t really sure of what a sacramental union was and i certainly didn’t realise that I was administering the sacrament to my husband and vice versa – I thought the priest was doing it! And i was a regular church goer…

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Over the past 30 years about 55 to 70% of annulments have occurred in the United States. The growth in annulments—at least in the US—has been substantial. In 1968 338 marriages were annulled. In 2006 27,000 were.

Pope Benedict XVI in his address to the Roman Rota in 2009, echoing words of his predecessor John Paul II, has criticized “the exaggerated and almost automatic multiplication of declarations of nullity of marriage in cases of the failure of marriage on the pretext of some immaturity or psychic weakness on the part of the contracting parties”. Calling for “the reaffirmation of the innate human capacity for matrimony”, he insisted on the point made in 1987 by John Paul II that “only incapacity and not difficulty in giving consent invalidates a marriage”

According to Canon 1095 a marriage can be declared null only when consent was given in the presence of some grave lack of discretionary judgement regarding the essential rights and obligations of marriage, or of some real incapacity to assume these essential obligations.

Please understand i am not advocating Communion for the remarried. I believe in the annulment process. What i am saying that the massive lack of adult evangelisation and catechises over the last 2 generations has been a major contributing factor in why Catholic marriages are not lasting.

Gaining knowledge over time of what a real Catholic marriage is, has definitely strengthened my own marriage and i would go as far to say that in the really dark times it has kept me in it – until the clouds passed and the sun shone again. But i can totally understand why someone who does not understand these truths would want to split up, and then meet someone new, and then try again. 

Bishops – it is and always has been your responsibility to ensure the Catholics in your diocese are properly educated and trained for marriage. The synod is a wonderful opportunity to admit that what you have been doing/not doing regarding marriage over the last 2 generations has been poor. Please discuss…

 

What Catholic marriage prep should be…

At 18 I came back to the church. At 20 i got married. I was a kid. But even then i knew that the promise i was making was for life. But that was about all i did know.

Our marriage prep course was nice. It was a one day course that talked about resolving conflict, being sensitive to each others feelings and making time for each other. It was nice.

It didn’t mention anything about NFP (in fact it didn’t mention anything about sex whatsoever!) It didn’t mention anything about the stabilizing pillar marriage is within the community or the wider sociological responsibilities and it didn’t mention anything about the fact that if you do break up, you cannot re-marry (or if you do, the fact that you will not be able to receive communion because you will be in a perpetual state of adultery – I NEVER KNEW THIS!!!).

The American population is said to have a divorce rate of about 50%. Catholics stand out with only 28% of the ever-married having divorced at some point. But 28% remains a troubling statistic. Even some clergy are starting to throw in the towel regarding the sanctity of marriage. With recent headlines including “German bishops will defy Vatican on divorced-remarried receiving Communion…” perhaps it is time to have a good look at how we prepare people for marriage?… I’m just sayin’

The head of a major U.S. missionary apostolate says that evangelization – not simple catechesis – is needed to prepare Catholics for good marriages by putting Jesus Christ at the center of their lives.

We have got to recognize the difference between evangelization and catechesis, Curtis Martin, co-founder of the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, told CNA Feb. 14.

“There is an attempt, by some of the best marriage preparation people in the country, to give all the catechesis about marriage that they possibly can, and they haven’t evangelized on the importance of Christian marriage.”

“You’re actually filling them with information but they don’t know why they need it.”

Catholics preparing for marriage should have “actually encountered Christ and have chosen to make him the center of their lives, so that this is the driving force in their life and the most important relationship.”

“That is fundamental,” he said.

Martin and his wife Michaelann began the Fellowship of Catholic University Students, known as FOCUS, in 1998. The student missionary organization now has more than 350 missionaries on 83 U.S. campuses.

Martin, a father of nine, has served as a consultor to the Pontifical Council on the New Evangelization since 2011. He said that changes are needed for marriage preparation in the Catholic Church.

“Nobody wants to marry badly. But our marriage preparation is not engaging, it is not compelling, it is not effective, despite the fact that we’ve got some of the most sincere, wonderful people trying to do it.”

Marriage preparation is often perceived as “mostly onerous” and something that must be done in order to marry in the church one’s parents want.

Martin suggested that marriage preparation could be a winning moment to introduce people to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and explain “why the Catholic faith can make all the difference in the marriage they’re hoping to enter into, and succeed in.”

While it is possible to have a lifelong marriage without supernatural grace, Martin said, “to really be able to love one another with the love of God requires that you have actually known and experienced the love of God.”

“The Church’s teachings about marriage are actually impossible to live without God’s grace,” he said.

Martin stressed the importance of what he called “remote preparation” for marriage, forming young people even before they are in relationships.

“Once you’re in love, you’re not going to listen to principles that are going to cause you to break up with that person.”

Rather, knowing these principles will help guide young people about who they fall in love with and help their chances of marrying well, he said.

“Our issue here is that most people have not encountered Jesus Christ and been able to accept him as the Lord of their life. That’s what the Church exists to do: to evangelize,” Martin said. “Only after that are we going to learn how to follow Christ.

“We’re actually meant to live with God at the center of our lives,” he said. “Jesus comes and restores marriage to its original state, which was meant to be lived in the state of grace.”

Sources –

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/catholic-marriage-preparation-needs-to-better-evangelize/

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/german-bishops-will-defy-vatican-on-divorced-remarried-receiving-communion

http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/divorce-statistics-indicate-catholic-couples-are-less-likely-to-break-up/