Tag Archives: same-sex marriage

Reasons to Believe

6 Apr

aaaa“The more things change, the more they stay the same.”

“We must obey God rather than men.” St. Peter boldly proclaimed these words as he was questioned by the authorities 2,000 years ago. In a certain sense, not much has changed. Modern popes and faithful Catholics are asked frequently to deny Jesus or the teachings of His Church on so many issues, but especially when it comes to matters of marriage and family life, and we also have to say, “We must obey God rather than men.”

Mostly, confusion arises because the “why” of the Church’s teaching has never been explained well. Many are often unaware of the beauty that stands at the foundations of “controversial teachings” such as same-sex “marriage,” contraception, pornography, and divorce. It is important for us to understand the “why” of the Church’s teachings as much as the “what.”

For common sense explanations on Church teachings regarding marriage and family life, go to www.archkck.org/family. Then click on “defending marriage.”

Why We Care About Marriage (Part 4)

2 Sep

winding road CCHeaven!

It is what we all desire in the depths of our existence. Every longing we experience finds its fulfillment in heaven. Every joy in this life is but a sign of what is to come in eternity. When a joy we experience passes away, we’re reminded that we’re not yet in heaven, where our joy will never end.

Imagine going to a party and not having to leave at the end, but being able to stay at the party with all of your closest friends and family. This is kind of what heaven will be like, except we tend to interpret heaven from our own limited human experience. We think that if heaven is some sort of party that never ends, then eventually we will get bored.

Heaven is not quite like that; it is not an endless succession of days where we have to find something to do. It is more like a fixed moment of joy that is locked into our very existence–for in heaven, there is no time.

Believe it or not, one of the greatest insights we can gain into this eternal existence is by contemplating the mystery of marriage.

Married couples are a sign of God’s existence in heaven, as the Church is wedded to Christ for all of eternity. Heaven is depicted in Sacred Scripture as a wedding feast. Is this a coincidence? I don’t think so. God uses this analogy to help us understand the eternal joy we will experience in heaven.

Let’s face it, wedding receptions are joyous occasions, and He is trying to awaken us to this reality. The Lord is saying, “If you think weddings are fun on earth, wait until you get here!”  And that’s just the beginning.

Imagine a passionately loving couple who are approaching their wedding day. They simply cannot wait to give themselves as a gift to one another at the altar and also to consummate that relationship through the conjugal act.  The joy the couple experiences through the total self-donation of intercourse is intended to be a foretaste of the bliss of participating in the union of Christ and His Bride for all eternity. This may make us blush, but it is God who came up with this analogy to describe what our experience of joy will be like in heaven.

In the Catholic Tradition, we call heaven the “beatific vision.” This description helps us understand that we, the Bride of Christ, will see Christ, the Bridegroom, face to face for all of eternity in a loving, passionate stare. As we gaze in the vision of our Savior, we are filled with His love. His love penetrates us and fills us with His very life. Having received His life, we now have a worthy gift to return to Him, and so, having received, we can now give in return a pleasing gift.

Does that description of the beatific vision sound like anything that a husband and wife experience in their earthly marriage? It should. The marital embrace of husband and wife, where the husband gives his seed of life to his wife and she takes that seed into herself and offers it in return in the conception and bringing forth of new life, is the earthly window where we catch a glimpse of the eternal embrace of Christ and His Bride!

This is but a tiny glimpse of the beautiful vision of marriage that the Church holds out to her children. So, for us it is not a matter of debating whether to change the definition of marriage. We do not believe we have the power to change what we did not create. It is not for us to change; it is for us to understand and live.

Marriage is not an entity unto itself, but it represents the One who created it because He wanted to communicate the truth and beauty of His loving reality. Is it any wonder that as marriage has declined over the past several decades that we have also seen a rise in atheism? I believe they are connected. It makes sense that as we can no longer see the sign as clearly as we should, we cannot recognize what the sign points to. It is like trying to reach a destination without having the proper signs to guide the way. Can you imagine if you went on a road trip and did not have a map, or GPS, or any road signs to tell you if you were on the right path?  It may feel like an adventure at first, but it would soon turn into a frustrating ordeal. In this scenario, it would be surprising if we ever reach our destination.

I think that is what our culture is experiencing. Our society has set out on an excursion and has left all points of guidance behind. The culture thinks it is on an exciting experience of unbridled freedom and happiness, but it will eventually lead to frustration and despair. I am speaking about every form of deprivation of the truth and beauty of matrimony that I have mentioned in this series.

For us married couples, it is our duty to be the sign we are intended to be for the sake of others. When we do that, we will experience joy beyond belief, because we will be living our purpose in life, which is to lead others to Christ. I invite all married couples to intentionally focus on being the sign they are called to be in order to change the culture.  Living our mission as married couples is the most effective way to awaken our culture to the beauty of marriage. To paraphrase St. Catherine of Sienna, if we were who we were created to be, we would set the world on fire!

Why We Care About Marriage (Part 3)

26 Aug

As we discussed in the previous post, marriage is a sign of God as the eternal exchange of love before time began.  Marriage represents this truth because the husband and wife commit and give themselves as a gift to each other. The married couple images God as a communion of persons.  God’s wisdom in establishing marriage as a union between one man and one woman did not stop with signifying Him “as it was in the beginning.” Marriage also signifies God as He “is now.” We have come to experience and know God through time, and so this is the second aspect I would like to explore.

Marriage is a sign of God’s loving existence during time.  In fact, St. Paul reminds us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent His son . . .” (Gal. 4:4).  Every sacramentally married couple is called to be a sign of Christ’s love for the Church.  By the way a married couple loves each other, they bear witness to the reality that God is a God who is passionately in love with His People, faithful to His promises, and generously merciful and life-giving.

In fact, this truth is at the core of the vows that the bride and groom exchange at the altar. The vows are what establish the sacrament. No vows, no sacrament. The couple has to promise to love each other in the same way that Christ loves the Church. If they are not willing to do that , then they do not become a sacrament.  Let’s look at those vows more intently.

If you have not been to a Catholic wedding recently, let me refresh your memory.  The priest or deacon who is officiating the wedding asks the couple three questions.  The couple is asked is they have come freely.  Next, the couple is asked if they promise to be faithful to one another, and finally, the couple is asked if they will be fruitful and receive children lovingly from God.  Freely, faithfully, and fruitfully are the three hallmarks of Christ’s love for the Church, so for Her part, the Church is doing its due diligence to make sure the couple is not being tricked in any way.  The Church is essentially asking the couple, “Do you want to be a sacrament?  Do you want to be a sign of Christ’s love for the Church?  If you do, we will proceed to the exchange of the vows.” Continue reading

Homosexuality and the Catholic Church…

22 Jul

Mackelmore Rainbow triangleWe can’t change, Even if we tried, Even if we wanted to

I am sure I’ll never forget where I was when I learned that the Supreme Court mandated that same-sex “marriage” was now the law of the land. I was driving to work when I heard Macklemore’s rap song, Same Love. It is that idolized pop song with the infectious hook sung by Mary Lambert, “I can’t change, even if I tried, even if I wanted to.” I thought it strange the playing of a so-last year song, so I flipped to NPR and sure enough they announced, “Supreme Court Declares Same-Sex Marriage Legal in All 50 States”. I realized that Obergefell v. Hodges is now my generation’s Roe v. Wade.

I lamented that nothing is going to be the same after this. What followed astonished me, a rainbow flag affirmation campaign that Kodachromed almost half my Facebook friends. Many of these rainbows were on Catholics from across the country and some even taught at Catholic schools. A significant number of Catholics approve of same-sex “marriage” and they think the Church should and someday will officially recognize and bless lesbian and gay sexual unions as the equivalent of man and woman marriage. These Catholics think their Church teaching on sexual morality can change. They think their Church will change. Ironically those who believe it is wrong to compel someone with same-sex attraction to change are trying to compel their Church to change.  While Catholic pastoral practice, the way we treat people who self-identify as gay and lesbian can and will likely change, Catholic teaching on the inherent immorality of homosexual sex will never ever change, because it can’t.

The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith issued in 2003 a great document for every Catholic to review on the question of legalizing same-sex unions called: Considerations Regarding Proposals to Give Legal Recognition to Unions Between Homosexual Persons . They sum up the Church’s teaching on the nature of marriage in the second paragraph: “The Church’s teaching on marriage and on the complementarity of the sexes reiterates a truth that is evident to right reason and recognized as such by all the major cultures of the world. Marriage is not just any relationship between human beings. It was established by the Creator with its own nature, essential properties and purpose. No ideology can erase from the human spirit the certainty that marriage exists solely between a man and a woman, who by mutual personal gift, proper and exclusive to themselves, tend toward the communion of their persons. In this way, they mutually perfect each other, in order to cooperate with God in the procreation and upbringing of new human lives.” Furthermore Pope Benedict taught that certain issues are NOT NEGOTIABLE and among the defence of life from conception to natural death he included: “recognition and promotion of the natural structure of the family – as a union between a man and a woman based on marriage – and its defence from attempts to make it juridically equivalent to radically different forms of union which in reality harm it and contribute to its destabilization, obscuring its particular character and its irreplaceable social role”. Popes often clarify the teachings of their predecessors in teaching the Faith but they never directly contradict. The media often spins Francis’ charitable remark of “who am I to judge?” as a sign that the Pope will contradict 2,000 years of moral teaching. Such a false hope confuses Catholics and the public because of a failure to understand that like Lambert’s sirenic voice chants Church teaching can’t change, even if Francis wanted it to.

Rainbow tinted Catholics who celebrate the legalization of same-sex marriage really need to reflect upon the Catholic faith they purport to have. Each week as Catholics we each solemnly proclaim, “I believe in one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church.” To be an apostolic Church means you believe in the teachings of the Popes and the Bishops in union with them on matters of Faith and Morals, and that those teachings are never going to essentially contradict themselves across time. Pope Francis cannot proclaim that homosexual acts are good and admit same-sex couples into the holy sacrament of matrimony any more than he could add another person to the Trinity (even if he wanted to add the Virgin Mary). As Catholics we hold a radical belief. The belief that God became man in the person of Jesus Christ and that he established a Church with a perfect deposit of faith that cannot be amended. To deny this Church’s teachings is to that extent to deny Christ. With this Church he left a special gift of his Holy Spirit that the Pope and the bishops in union with him cannot teach error to the faithful regarding faith and morals. Since the Church for so long has clearly taught that homosexual acts (not people) are wrong, the Church cannot now bless or condone these acts. If as a Catholic you think the Church should change its core teaching on homosexuality, you will literally have to wait an eternity for this to happen.

So rather than frustrate your salvation and confound your parish family, what is a rainbow Catholic to do? Should you just leave? Oh Heavens no, please don’t jeopardize your salvation by jumping off the ark. However, now is the time for a serious revaluation of your Faith? Rather than subversively wait for the Church to become as “enlightened” as you and the church of what’s happening now, you should actively wait on the LORD and take this contradiction to God in study and prayer. The Catholic Church does not want us to be unquestioning robots that follow orders but rather actively engaged believers whose faith always seeks understanding. If you think the Church is wrong because you want to affirm your “gay” friends and relatives fine, but don’t just sit there, start wrestling with the angels. Start to question why you believe what you do and why the Church teaches what she teaches. One beautifully elegant question that is guaranteed to open you up to the guidance of the Holy Spirit is, “If the Catholic Church turned out to be right, how is that it could be true?” Study and pray till you see how you can stay and still be the person of integrity that God calls you to be. As Catholics we are not members of a club, we are disciples of Jesus Christ with his Catholic Church as our guide. Discipleship takes discipline and let’s be honest, this is hard. A faith that never engages a difficult teaching is not much of a faith at all.

So Catholics in our quest to not appear homophobic let’s not become Christophobic by outright rejection of the teachings of our Church. Macklemore is right that “If you preach hate at the service, those words aren’t anointed. That holy water that you soak in has been poisoned “. However, how hateful is it to tell a lie to someone who wants to be lied to by confirming that person into a sinful practice. If the homosexual act is really a sin then we are loving no one by its encouragement. For, “when sin reaches maturity it gives birth to death.” (James 1:15) As Catholics we must seek and preach the truth in love or then we really do risk poisoning our holy water.

 

 

Fighting the good fight on Same-Sex “marriage”

9 Jun

gay cogsWow, I got a good deal of  Hate Push-Back Email  on my recent Leaven Column, What’s the price of equality if it comes at the cost of conscience?  which is about what a Supreme Court ruling that States must recognize same-sex “marriages” would mean for our Catholic schools.

People were mad that a Catholic in a Catholic paper would push back against the wave of history for what they “know” to be the great good of same-sex “marriage”.

Sometimes trying to defend one man, one woman marriage can be difficult because it is hard to see how anyone could object or how to go beyond the emotional appeal.  It’s like arguing with someone who thinks motherhood is bad.  You know on the face of it the person is wrong but don’t know where to start.

In charity I wanted to respond to these people, but hey it took a while so I thought maybe you all might appreciate reading some of reasons why as Catholics we can be against same sex marriage and not be haters. It is a discussion we are going to need to engage.

If you are like me, you have a bunch of friends and family that think like the people in these emails. I have kept the content pretty much the same but I have changed the names of the senders to keep them anonymous.

So here is the first in the series…

Email 1 The Madisonian.

Response:

Good discussion “James” 

As Catholics, we sincerely believe that God created sex for two combined purposes: the happiness of a man and woman uniting in married love, and the happiness of new life being born from that union. Take away either one — for instance with adultery, prostitution, masturbation, premarital sex, or homogenital activity — and sexual activity turns negative and limiting, because those two purposes are built into us. We are made physically for loving and for generating new life. Sexual acts which are anything less than that will separate us from part of our selves and from what God wants for us; they leave out and suppress part of what sex is and part of who we are.

My basic position is that for Catholics to condone same-sex unions by recognizing such unions as a “marriage” goes against Christian conscience.  As a consequence, people of conscience should not be compelled to witness such “marriages” or be forced to hire the practitioners in positions that give moral witness on behalf of the Church.  However, the LGBT forces have made it very clear their intent is not “to agree to disagree” but to use the force of law to compel religious organizations to publically endorse their lifestyle. The Catholic Church cannot do that because as much as we love people and have compassion for people who experience strong same sex attraction (SSA) we would be sinning against charity to endorse such practices.  Not because we are being mean or hating but because that kind of sex is going to hurt the practitioners and society as a whole.

 Let me respond to some of your points…

Gays and Lesbians have the “Right to seek personal fulfillment through marriage”

There are no rights without God and we never have a right to do something that is inherently bad for us and others, and goes against God’s plan for us.  I don’t have a right to smoke crack cocaine because crack is bad for me and the addiction it causes has devastating fallout for my family and community.

However, even if we assume the false premise that people who self-identify as “gay” or “lesbian” are exercising their right to the pursuit of happiness it does not follow they have a right to marriage as same-sex partners.  The reason no one has a right to same-sex “marriage” is because marriage is NOT a recognition of a special adult friendship.  Marriage is a public recognition of an exclusive sexual relationship that has the potential to produce children and bonds the father and the mother to those children that sexual union produces. The institution of one man, one woman marriage serves the common good as the number one way our society protects children.  Every baby that is born has a mother not far off, but not necessarily a father nearby.  What marriage does best is protect the children by bonding the dad to the mom and the children.  The reason the State privileges man-woman marriage is because these unions produce the future generation of the State not so the participants can feel validated.  Just because a citizen has a kind of sexual proclivity doesn’t entitle that person to a public recognition of that sexual expression.  Pick any sexual expression that by its very nature prohibits offspring, do those practitioners have the “right” to have society affirm their pursuit of personal fulfillment by calling that sex marriage?

“equal rights under the constitution matter”

All citizens have the right to marry someone of the opposite sex.  Many men and women who experience same-sex attraction enter real marriages all the time and go on to start families.   What this issue is seeking to do is to create a special class of citizen with a special right.  What about all the other people who want to express themselves sexually outside the traditional, moral norms and have that legally defined as marriage?  Why can’t bigamists marry many, or zoophiliacs marry their pets? I ask this not to suggest that same-sex unions rise to that level of perversity but to point out that once the good of offspring are taken out the equation there is no ratio for denying any kind of sex the moniker of marriage.

Also, what about the children?  Don’t children have a God given right to have a mother and a father?  Isn’t it sexist to say that 2 dads can fill the void of a mother or 2 moms can fill the void of a father?  Now sadly, not all children get a father or mother. However, it is one thing when the situation arises by accident of circumstance.  It is quite another and indeed cruel when it is done on purpose.  It is rightfully considered shameful to be a dead-beat dad by a man abandoning his child.  Is it not also shameful for two moms to deny the child even the possibility of ever have having a dad?  (And of course vice-versa two dads denying the chance to have a mom)

 

“people regardless of sex must have equal rights”

I agree, and they do have equal rights to enter man-woman marriages, or not.  We have many rights that we may not choose to exercise because we are not attracted to the object of that right, for instance the right to bear arms.  My 2nd amendment rights are not being violated if I choose not to be a gun owner because I lack interest in guns.

 “we have the first amendment so you and others like you will not force people who do not see you way into inequality.”

Certainly that Catholic Church does not wish to force people into inequality. In fact it is from the witness of the Church that all people are created in the image of God that our nation was able to declare, “all men are created equal”.  Therefore, the basis of our democracy is our common origin and destiny in God.

However,  I think that adults who wish to enter into consensual sexual relations (even same-gendered)  should not have that activity criminalized (which you might be surprised to learn is the position of the Catholic Church). Not all sin should be illegal because giving such power to the State would do more harm than good to the commonwealth.  Certainly, compromises could be made in which adults who wanted to have their unions recognized in a public way could be accommodated so they had access to benefits and hospital visits. And Church leaders have even advocated for civil unions as a way of compromise.  However, the LGBT agenda doesn’t want accommodation.  They want that legal status of “marriage” as a tool to coerce everyone into accepting their sexual activity as morally valid.  It is not even OK to be neutral.  We are the ones who are being forced into inequality because we won’t be coerced into blessing a sin.

 “As for the court making the church bless same sex marriages it will not happen”

I hope you are right “James”.  However, the State can coerce in many other ways by forcing Catholic Schools to hire people who openly practice and advocate the LGBT lifestyle.   Or the court will likely someday say that the Church can’t have a tax-exempt status because it prohibits LGBT activity.  I respect that LGBT advocates sincerely think the Church is wrong.  I just wish they had the honesty to tell people the truth that what they want is for complete acceptance of their lifestyle and the complete marginalization of anyone who disagrees with them.  They want to push us into the closet they just came out of.

One of the Church’s toughest duties is to speak the truth with love and confront the self-destructive ideas and behavior of any society, and often those societies resist. Our Christian “tough love” insists that God intends more for us than homosexual activity can ever offer. Our long standing Judeo-Christian tradition is coming under strong attack especially in America.  Madison would respect our right to dissent.   As well, he would never embrace the false notion of “marriage” that is being promoted today.

From: “James”

Subject: Re: what’ the price

Bill: your thought: this supposed quest for equality is the point. To deny individuals the right to seek personal fulfillment through marriage is at the most basic level a denial of equal citizenship. This is the first right in the constitution. How can you say you can only see marriage in a Christian way? This not a moral issue, you are making it one. This is an equal rights under the constitution matter. And people regardless of sex must have equal rights. First in this country marriage is a public matter which the church blesses. 50 years ago this week we went to the court house for a marriage license [public] then took our license to church [private] to get it blessed. You are trying to mix the public with the private. That is why we have the first amendment so you and others like you will not force people who do not see you way into inequality. Spend some more time with Madison and you will see this is no more than an equal rights issue. As for the court making the church bless same sex marriages it will not happen.

From: Bill Scholl

To: “James”

Subject: RE: what’ the price

Thanks for writing.

I think Madison would share my concerns as he helped to write the establishment clause to the first amendment.  If the Supreme Court should legalize same-sex “marriage” and define it as a fundamental right, any religious group that upholds the inherent immorality of same-gendered sexual unions, as Christians have held from the beginning along with all major world religions, will over time be coerced in recanting an essential moral teaching.  It will set us on course for a constitutional conflict in which Madison’s amendment: “Congress shall make no law…prohibiting the free exercise of religion.” will collide with the supposed right for same gendered people to marry as they use this ruling to pressure religions to embrace their lifestyle.

I have no problem with Madison as he saw to it that rights were clearly articulated as opposed to 5 of 9 justices mandating a new morality.  If LGBTQB activists want their unions to be a right they should amend the constitution.  I think this supposed quest for equality will come at the price of religious liberty.

 From: “James”

Subject: what’s the price?

Dear bill. I just put down my 4th book on James Madison. I am sure he would disagree with your opinion. Your opinion is “if the Supreme Court makes same sex marriage constitutional there will be no religious exemption “is just wrong. Madison taught us that. Your argument is with Madison. Your next opinion article should be “dear president Madison this is why you are wrong on same sex marriage”. I would like to read your thoughts. But until then I will stay with President Madison.

Archbishop Naumann on “Religious Freedom Act”

28 Feb

archbishop NaumannLast week Archbishop Naumann wrote an excellent column for The Leaven on HB 2453, known as the “Religious Freedom Act.” While the proposed legislation has been misrepresented by the opposition, the law is limited to protecting conscience rights in the context of the celebration of marriage. The law would prevent business owners who are opposed to same-sex marriage on moral grounds from being legally coerced into participating in a same-sex “marriage” ceremony and/or reception.

Archbishop Naumann gives compelling reasons why in today’s climate such a law is even necessary. He also emphasizes that HB 2453 would be fairly applied to all citizens:

“The bill is written to protect everyone’s religious freedom, not just those who have moral objections to same-sex marriages. If a business objected to participating in a Catholic wedding, we do not believe our laws or courts should coerce them to do so. We do not believe the state should force anyone to violate their deeply held religious beliefs, unless it is absolutely necessary for the common good and there are no other viable options.”

In case you missed it, the Archbishop’s article appeared on p. 2 of the February 21, 2014 issue of The Leaven, which can be viewed here. For more information on HB 2453, check out this helpful Q and A at the Kansas Catholic Conference site.

Ever After

16 Sep

marriageWe all know that the institution of marriage is under attack these days. One of the root causes is the widespread assumption that we have the authority to manipulate the institution. Yet Jesus courageously proclaims that marriage is within God’s sole jurisdiction: “What . . . God has joined together, let no man put asunder” (Mt. 19:6).

In a valid Christian marriage, the man and woman are joined in a permanent, mutual bond that exists even when the spouses and the state consent to the legal fiction of a divorce. The more marriage is understood as a man-made convention, however, the more society will look to legal principles rather than biblical principles regarding marriage, and with disastrous ramifications.

Sadly, many Christians today at least implicitly believe that only the state has jurisdiction over their marriages, and they are divorcing at a rate comparable to that of society as a whole—if they choose to marry at all. No-fault divorce, prenuptial agreements, and “gay marriages” are natural progressions of an understanding of the marriage bond informed by the law of contracts, without regard to Scripture and apostolic Tradition.

Surely the exchange of marriage vows envisions a big act of faith and abandonment to divine providence. God asks couples to say “yes” in marriage before they literally know what they’ve gotten themselves into. Love may not be blind, but it is visually impaired, as we’re blissfully ignorant of most of the challenges and difficulties that lie ahead.

Family Ties

The reality is that once the husband and wife have exchanged their vows, everything has changed. The two have become one. And this affects in some fashion all our relationships.

After Maureen and I were married, for example, people I barely knew were my in-laws. My Irish wife became part of my French-Canadian family. We were to become “Mommy” and “Daddy” to the little ones God would entrust to us. Our friends and neighbors relate to us collectively as “the Suprenants.” And God Himself calls me–and most people–to an intimate relationship with Him precisely as a married person. I am the “pastor” of my domestic Church.

The fundamental relationship in a family is that of husband and wife, which forms the basis and framework for other familial relationships. Loving my beautiful wife as much as she deserves is humanly impossible, but happily the grace of the Sacrament of Marriage is “time-released.” The sacrament only begins with the wedding ceremony; the marriage covenant continues “till death do us part.” Each step of the way, divine grace is there for the asking, enabling our love to reflect, albeit imperfectly, the mysterious and eternal love affair between Christ the Bridegroom and His Church, the Bride.

This process presupposes that marriage is not a static reality. We don’t say “I do” and continue to live as before. Rather, the marriage bond is ordered toward an ongoing deepening of the marital relationship. The more I know Maureen, the more I love her. The more I love her, the more I want to know her. Through the life-transforming power of the Holy Spirit, the joys and sufferings of married life have brought us closer to each other and, most importantly, to our blessed Lord.

What if after I married Maureen I moved to another city and never gave her a second thought, perhaps visiting on Christmas and Easter, maybe calling her every few years when I needed some money or some other favor? Such a marriage would be neither love-giving nor life-giving, and the abundant grace available through the sacrament would be largely squandered.

“Absent father” is a common pejorative expression that points to a dad’s inadequate involvement in his children’s life. Even more fundamentally, though, we have a crisis of “absent husbands.” This phenomenon unjustly deprives the entire family of the pivotal relationship of husband and wife. While a good husband and father helps to form a positive image of God’s paternal, even spousal, love for His people, an absent husband and father images a Church without Christ, with foreseeably devastating consequences.

Maturing in Faith

From this brief sketch we see how marriage is a sacrament that plays out over time, calling for an ongoing, ever-deepening commitment to our spouse.

Baptism, by which all of us are introduced into the life of faith, has a similar dynamic. When we’re baptized we’re cleansed of original and actual sin and truly become sons and daughters of God. Yet this reality calls for ongoing doctrinal formation so that we can know Our Lord and His teachings more deeply and internally, and ongoing spiritual formation so that we can love the Lord our God more personally, more intensely, above all things, and with all our hearts, minds, and strength.

Baptism immediately entails a whole network of relationships in the Family of God. We have bishops, pastors, religious (some in habits and others incognito), godparents, and fellow parishioners–not to mention all Catholics through our participation in the communion of saints. And even those who are not Catholic or even Christian identify us as “Catholic”–hopefully “by our love” and certainly by our Church affiliation.

All these relationships are vitally important, but the basis of them all is our connectedness to Jesus Christ by being baptized into His death and thereby becoming new creations in Him. Our ever-deepening relationship with Christ gives us the grace to be constructive, productive members of His Body, the Church. That’s why the Church stresses the priority of prayer and the primacy of our own need for further conversion, repentance, and renewal as the necessary prerequisites for godly action.

An absent husband and father exemplifies a marriage that is not fulfilling its purpose. Similarly, an “absent Catholic”—one who does not pray, who gives the faith little or no thought except on Christmas and Easter, who does not work to foster his or her interior life–exemplifies a Baptism that is not fulfilling its purpose. And what is the purpose of Baptism? It is nothing less than communion with the Blessed Trinity and the company of angels and saints.

In my home, we are in “back to school” mode. May all of us make it our aim this school year to replenish our hearts, that we may be renewed in our baptismal commitment to Christ, to the glory of God our Father.