Tag Archives: redemption

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.

The Gift of the Eucharist

20 Jul

God loves us not because we’re good, but because He’s good. In fact, God in His goodness loved us so much that, despite our sinfulness, He became man in the fullness of time. He redeemed us by His own blood and opened for us the gates of heaven. We have received no greater gift, and we have no greater cause for thanksgiving, than Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross for us.

Even more, through the Eucharist, Christ’s sacrifice is continually made present and effective in our lives. “Eucharist” literally means thanksgiving, as the gift of Christ to His Church elicits our sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving.

We do need to recognize the fullness of the gift of the Eucharist–that Our Lord is truly present under the appearance of bread and wine, and that He gives us the grace and the power to live the Gospel when we partake of this Sacrament. To fully appreciate the gift of the Mass, our eyes must remain fixed on Jesus and this tremendous gift.

That should go without saying, but in subtle and not-so-subtle ways, our focus can be diverted to ourselves if we’re not careful. Many of the liturgical controversies that we’ve endured in recent decades would dissipate if we really believed and truly appreciated what is happening on the altar. We can’t feed ourselves, we can’t save ourselves. Thank God that He sent His Son to feed us, indeed, to save us.

The gift of faith in Jesus Christ, truly present in the Eucharist, is inseparable from our faith in the Church. Scripture says that in marriage the two truly become one (cf. Gen. 2:24; Mt. 19:5). Scripture also calls Jesus Christ the Bridegroom and the Church His Bride (cf. Eph. 5:21-33). If that were the case, it would take an act of violence–a spiritual divorce, if you will–to separate Christ from His Church.

The Church, after all, is the Body of Christ extended through space and time. Even more profoundly, she is the family of God and our true home. The Bible is our family album. All those who are alive in Christ are truly our brothers and sisters in the communion of saints. Christ is the one source of eternal life for the whole world, and this life flows through His family, the Church. We are grateful for the gift of the Church and for the witness and intercession of the company of saints.

God’s Rescue Mission

4 Apr

As the final stage of God’s “rescue mission” to save sinful humanity, He entered into our suffering and misery. Rather than remain at arm’s length, He stepped right into our dysfunction. He rolled up His sleeves, and got His hands dirty—even to the point of enduring a most degrading form of death.

In his Letter to the Philippians, St. Paul not only emphasized Christ’s humility, but also His obedience (Phil. 2:8). Christ was ever faithful to His Father’s rescue mission. He fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy that God’s servant would bear our iniquities so as to restore us to right relation with our heavenly Father (cf. Is. 53:10-11; Catechism, no. 623).

Because of Christ’s humility and obedience, His Father raised Him from the dead and “highly exalted him” (Phil. 2:9). As Our Lord Himself foretold, “Every one who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk. 14:11). We who have died with Christ in Baptism have firm hope that we will be exalted with Him (cf. Rom. 6:3-4; Col. 2:12). This entails our own embrace of the Cross each day, in whatever form it may take, such as sickness, suffering, or setbacks of any kind (cf. Lk. 9:23).

St. Paul also stresses the “name” of Jesus, a name which is above every other name (Phil. 2:9). For the Jews, the name above every other name is none other than the name of God, YHWH (often rendered “Yahweh, ” or Kyrios in Greek).  This name is generally translated as “Lord” in the Old Testament. Kyrios is the same word that St. Paul uses when he says that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:11). Therefore, St. Paul is saying that in raising Jesus from the dead and exalting Him in heaven, the Father is showing forth the sovereignty of He who is the “Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8; see generally Catechism, nos. 446-51).

St. Paul’s expression that at the name of Jesus “every knee should bow” (Phil. 2:10) is a direct allusion to Isaiah 45:23, and it reflects his conviction that the Lordship of Christ must extend over all creation (cf. Eph. 1:15-23). This point is solidified by the reference to the three levels of the universe according to ancient thought: “in heaven,” “on earth,” and “under the earth” (cf. Ex. 20:4).

And so we add our voice to that of all creation when we proclaim the good news that “Jesus Christ is Lord” (Rom. 10:9; 1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11).