Archive | March, 2016

The Mission of Marriage . . . If You Choose to Accept It

31 Mar

Recently durinaaaag Mass, Maggie, my 5 year-old daughter, grabbed my hand while we were listening to the homily. I thought she just wanted to hold my hand, but I was wrong. She gave my hand to Libby, so we could hold hands during the homily. It deepened my realization that little ones want desperately for their parents to not only be together, but to be “IN LOVE.”

It is sometimes easy to forget that one of the greatest gifts we can give our children is to constantly strive to grow in our marriage no matter how good or not so good it already is. No matter where we are or have been in our marriages, the natural instinct of my daughter, Magdalene, can give us deep insight into the supernatural reality of this Easter Season. Let’s explore.

What is it about an “in love” married couple that gives so much security to our little ones? I think it has something to do with the fact that a married couple is intended to be the very reflection and concrete experience of the love and goodness of God. Every married couple has the mission to be a window into the life and love of the Holy Trinity. If the reflection that the couple is intended to convey becomes cloudy, then the child’s confidence in God’s loving providence is clouded. Children want to believe that they come from love. If a child knows that their existence is the fruit of love, then they are confident that they exist for a reason.

We all know that children are created out of the love of God and that there is a reason for the creation of every child. Yet we as parents sometimes forget that we are supposed to be the living and tangible reminder every day to that reality by the way we love each other. It is not just about participating with God in the child’s creation, and then focusing on the child and figuring that our spouse is old enough and can take care of their own needs. When we intentionally choose to nurture the married relationship, we create the culture for a child to grow in a stable environment. If we were going to plant a garden, we would not be very successful if we did not tend to the soil. Passionate marriages are the optimal soil for the seed of children to flourish!

Yes, I said “passionate.” Some are scandalized by that word, so let me explain why I purposely chose it. When I say “passionate,” I am not talking about “an urgency to make love.” That is how the world defines it, and it is important to reclaim the language. When I say “passion,” I am talking about the type of passion that we celebrated on Good Friday. And no, I am not saying that marriage is torture. I am saying that the total self-abandonment of Christ on the Cross is the same self-abandonment that a married couple is called to have toward each other. The grace that was won on Calvary and offered through the Resurrection is made present to and through the Sacrament of Matrimony. St. John Paul II expressed it best when he said that married couples are a “permanent reminder to the Church of what Christ did on the Cross” (Familiaris Consortio).

The mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection is present in every home, and what a wonderful plan in the wisdom of God. God knew that the Blessed Sacrament would not be able to make it into every home, but through Baptism and Matrimony, His sacramental presence has the potential to reach every house and neighborhood.

Our marriages are personal but not private. When we embrace the call to love each other as Christ loved the Church, we participate in the sanctification of the world. We can sometimes dismiss evangelization as a good idea that some people should do out there somewhere, or we wait around for our parish priest to form an evangelization committee. The reality is that when we love our spouse passionately, we evangelize our children and our communities, and we participate in the redemption of the whole world!

I invite every married man and woman, most especially myself, to step up the level of love in our relationship this Easter season. The grace is abundant, and when we take the time to prioritize our marriage, we enter deeply into the mystery of Christ’s Death and Resurrection. If we enter into this mystery more deeply this Easter season, we will experience the power of Pentecost in a tangible way, and we will be a beacon of light in a world that struggles mightily to find the path to authentic happiness.

Why not strengthen your marriage this Easter season by attending a marriage enrichment retreat or workshop? A common mindset is that these retreats or workshops are for couples that are struggling, but that could not be farther from the truth. Healthy marriages intentionally “do something” for their marriage each year. They don’t just wait until it gets bad. Just as regular maintenance on the family vehicle helps to avoid the need for bigger more costly repairs down the line, so regular enrichment keeps good marriages strong!

Upcoming opportunities include the Living in Love retreat April 2-3 in Emporia and June 11-12 in Topeka. Another option is the Recharge Marriage Workshop, which is a 4-hour experience that includes CHILDCARE! The next one is at the Church of the Ascension in Overland Park on April 23. Check it out at www.archkck.org/recharge.

Unlocking the Gift of Peace

29 Mar

aaaa“Peace be with you.” Jesus offers peace this Divine Mercy Sunday. The peace of Jesus is different from the peace that the world promises. Peace is not simply an absence of war, although that would be nice. The promise of Jesus is a peace that surpasses all understanding: a peace of the soul and a gift the world cannot give.

The pathway to this peace is forgiveness. In the same way that Jesus passed through the locked doors and offered His Apostles peace, He wants to pass through the locked doors of our hearts and broken relationships that are erected through sin and give us the gift of interior peace.

We participate in this peace in two ways in our families. First, we always have the gift of peace that comes through the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Second, when we use the words, “I forgive you” and “Please forgive me” with our spouse and children, and teach them to use the same words, we allow Jesus to bring His gift of peace into our family life.

This Easter Season, and especially during this Year of Mercy, let us be generous in seeking God’s forgiveness in Confession, offering forgiveness in our family relationships, and praying that a spirit of forgiveness will be more prevalent throughout the world. When we do this, we participate in the victory of Easter over death and despair.

The Living Stations of Marriage

23 Mar

aaaHave you ever attended a “living Stations of the Cross”? Many parishes have their youth groups act out the steps of Jesus on His way to His crucifixion and death. Seeing these truths acted out in a dramatic form can be a very powerful experience for the faithful in attendance.

Did you know that as a married couple you are called to the same thing? St. John Paul II said, “Spouses are a permanent reminder to the Church of what happened on the Cross” (Familiaris Consortio).

It can be hard to imagine the kind of sacrifice that Jesus made for us, but when we see a couple choose to forgive a serious offense, or pull together during a difficult pregnancy or care for one another during a life-threatening illness, suddenly Jesus’ Passion is played out in front of our eyes.

Likewise, couples mirror the Resurrection. Anyone who has had the honor of celebrating a 50th wedding anniversary has seen the joy that is the fruit of years of suffering offered for the good of the other.

As we begin this Easter season, let us reflect on the crosses in our marriage and choose to bear them as Christ did, that we might show the world that His love brings new life.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

I’m Waiting for You

15 Mar

aaa“I have eagerly desired to eat this Passover with you” (Lk. 22:15). Jesus, fully human and fully God, has an eternal perspective, so think about the thousands of years God had been waiting to reveal the fullness of His love through the first Eucharist. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us of the preparation on a human level that went into that first Eucharist, but think of the centuries of preparation that went into it from a divine perspective. Jesus desired that moment because it was the moment in which He could invite His disciples to share in His very life and love in the most intimate of ways.

That same eager desire Jesus had for sharing His life and love with the first disciples is the same eager desire He has to share His life and love with our family. Jesus has been planning to share the Eucharistic meal for centuries with us and our children, and it is the place where we can be most reassured of His presence and protection. The Eucharist is where our desire for God meets His desire for us, and it is the most important lesson we can pass along to our children.

As we enter into Holy Week this Palm Sunday, let us seize the opportunities to teach our children about the desire God has to meet with us through the Mass. If we are able, let’s take an extra 15 minutes to stop by the adoration chapel before or after work, to bring our children there, or even to attend the great liturgical celebrations of this Holy Week. Jesus is waiting to encounter us!

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

The Unseen Option

10 Mar

aaaHave you ever been caught between a rock and a hard place? This is an age-old expression that is relevant to so much of everyday family life.

In the trenches of marriage and family life, we sometimes find ourselves at the crossroads of two bad options. A couple in pain looks at a lifetime of misery on the one hand or divorce on the other. A woman in a crisis pregnancy sees the struggle of single parenthood on the one hand and abortion on the other. A family member makes a bad choice and we see compromising our beliefs on the one hand or severing a relationship on the other. This is tough stuff!

In this Sunday’s readings, God is all about offering a new option we haven’t seen before. We have a God who opened up the sea for the Israelites to pass through when they were trapped. He makes rivers run through deserts. And when He Himself was stuck between the demands of justice and mercy toward the adulterous woman, He resolved the dilemma with one simple question.

There is a promise here for us this weekend. “Those that sow in tears shall reap rejoicing.” Maybe the solution is a renewed love we never could have dreamed of. Maybe the answer is adoption for the “crisis” pregnancy? Maybe God shows us His own heart by teaching us to forgive one who rejects us.

We can’t know what solution God has up His sleeves. However, we do know two things: We can trust Him, and we won’t know His answer unless we ask Him. The lesson of Lent and that leads us to Easter glory is that God is an expert at bringing good out of seemingly impossible situations.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.

Ambassadors of Healing

3 Mar

reconciliationHave you ever overreacted to something that other people didn’t think was a big deal ? Is there that one person in your family, circle of friends or department at work who just makes you so mad?!

If so, there may be someone you need to forgive. While this may seem insignificant to your marriage, it’s not. Who usually bears the brunt of your painful relationships with others? If we are honest, it’s usually the person to whom we are closest–our spouse. They, not the person who hurt us, are the ones who get snapped at, shut out, or even blamed for things. Even if we don’t lash out at our spouse in anger when we’re hurt, we aren’t all we could be for him or her.

So what do we do? In this Sunday’s second reading, St. Paul tells us that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. That means that Jesus can not only patch up our wounded hearts, but He can make them new. He can lift the burden of hurt and help us forgive, not because the offending person deserves it, but because our spouse does. As spouses, we can become for each other “ambassadors for Christ,” encouraging one another to be reconciled for the sake of our marriages. Let us allow the grace of Lent to set us free to become the husband or wife we desire to be.

The foregoing is this week’s installment of the “Marriage Minute,” produced by the Marriage and Family Life Office of the Archdiocese, which attempts to view the Sunday readings through the lens of the Sacrament of Marriage.