So, I’m reading at Catholic Answers random things because I like to learn about my faith. The marriage topic pops up a few times so I pursue it searching www.catholic.com for someone who writes with both charity in the message but also a directness.
I found an English women providing commentary on how she prepares talks and materials for newly engaged individuals. It’s a frank discussion I found to be direct and simple to understand.
Below are excerpts from two blogs she posted, the links to the blog are below the clips.
“an enormous amount of human happiness”
The aim is to show that lifelong Catholic marriage, begun at the altar and centered on a Catholic understanding of the sacrament, is both achievable and beautiful, the source of uncountable blessings and an enormous amount of human happiness. Over the past year, working with a priest in a busy London parish where the population includes people from many different nationalities, races, and backgrounds, I have had the privilege of being part of such a program and would like to pass on what I have learnt about how it can be done.
I kept reading the blog and found this statement. I’ve watched many family and friends go through divorce, I can’t help but pray for all the young people considering marriage. The strength in my own marriage comes only from our loving God. For me, putting God first, as in making Christ number one, that in the “giant moments in your life” you’ll find grace, peace and joy.
I pray that new marriages ask for God’s guidance.
“We can’t ignore God”
“A marriage is the start of a new home and family. We need to have some idea of what the spirit and message of this home will be. How will we celebrate Christmas? Easter? An important anniversary? Spiritual life is at the core of things. We can’t ignore God and then suddenly switch on prayer when we need it-at the bed of a very sick child, for instance, or a dying parent. Marriage includes the giant moments of our lives-childbirth and financial crisis, glorious romance and sordid arguments about money, hilarious fun with children and ghastly arguments with anguished teenagers. This is a spiritual journey; we need not stagger blindly along without a light. Of course, God is always there when we need him, but we should not turn to him as embarrassed strangers-he should be someone we know and address as a loving friend. We need a language in which to do it. We can have favorite prayers and favorite places to pray. Courtship is a time when all sorts of special memories are being created. A visit to a shrine or old church, talks together about God and faith, could be part of this.”
“British enthusiasm for the truth”
So, I’m reading more blogs, turns out the same author likes the topic of marriage and writes with British enthusiasm for the truth. I think it would be helpful to our youth to here this kind of truth. But, the distance between our Church and our youth makes having heart felt and frank discussions about them becoming a Catholic home almost impossible.
The wisdom of the church can provide to those interested the happiness they seek in marriage and peace and joy our culture will never show them. Stepping into a new life in the sacrament of marriage is a Christmas gift in marriage. She writes beautifully on the topic.
“Expectations of how life is lived (good housing, holidays, health, regular meals out, and pleasant entertainment) and a general perception that suffering is largely avoidable and — if it comes — valueless, make it difficult to communicate the truths about marriage. Even if you say with great sincerity that in fifty years of married life a couple will inevitably face the realities of death (at least that of parents and other relatives), illness, job problems, etc., young couples simply don’t believe you. My generation, growing up in the 1960s, at least had a sort of folk memory passed on by parents who had known war and the Depression and life before most folk had cars and central heating. The generation raised in the 1980s and trained in the jargon of the 1990s thinks that any sort of hardship is impossible to manage and that it’s probably wrong even to try.
“A roomful of young engaged couples is a happy place”
Some of this may sound a little bitter. It isn’t. A roomful of young engaged couples is a happy place, and there is a great sense of dedication and seriousness as they settle down to a marriage preparation talk. It has been my experience that young couples — especially the non-Catholics among them — are keen to find out what the Church is saying and genuinely want to learn something that will help them to avoid the pitfalls of marriage breakdown and divorce that they see all around them. The problems they bring with them are largely not of their own making, and they certainly don’t involve a deliberate abandonment of goodwill on their part. On the contrary, theirs are open minds into which has been poured a great deal of silly jargon — hence all the “gay rights” talk and son — and which have also received from everyday life a vision of the world wholly at odds with the Catholic vision.
“communicate what the Church teaches”
Our task is simply and only to communicate what the Church teaches about marriage and to do so with a love and sense of purpose that enables them to understand that this will be a source of joy and practical help to them all their lives. We must have a genuinely unbiased approach and a genuinely unselfish one. We want them to know that a lifelong love is achievable, that it is God’s plan for us in marriage, and that it has been the lived reality of millions of Christians down the centuries and across the globe.
So, here’s even more from the same article, she’s talking about what she hears from those preparing for marriage, one of the topics that comes up apparently is church teaching on Gay “marriage,” I like her answer because it balances the teachings of the church with popular notions in the culture. She does it in a way that’s both charitable and direct. See what you think;
“Church sounds awfully judgmental”
“What about the “gay rights” question raised by the cheery youngster, jabbing into the comfortable glow left by our carefully prepared talk on the beauty of lifelong marriage, fruitfulness, etc.? Probably the person concerned doesn’t care very much about homosexuality as such. The question is a way of saying, “The Catholic Church sounds awfully judgmental and I know we’re not meant to be like that.” Equally probably, others in the room will be a little bored by this and will dislike a lengthy argument on a topic not of their choosing. Again, we need tact and an ability to see behind the immediate question.
The Church teaches — and the audience has a right to know that this is an outrageous concept to many in the present age — that male-female love plays an important and irreplaceable part in God’s plan. This is no arbitrary set of rules, and Catholic morality should not be taught that way. Rather, bring them to understand that God’s revelation to us, his Son being born among us as a man, and his constitution of the Church have a male-female spiritual reality that is reflected in our own physical make-up and in marriage. From the beginning, the relationship between God and Israel — and later the relationship between Christ and his Church — is that of Bridegroom and Bride.
At a Catholic wedding we speak of this, using Paul’s words from Ephesians 5, and remind each other that the relationship between a man and his bride is like that of Christ and his Church. And the bond between Christ and his Bride was and is fruitful — we are all children of that union, born in baptism. So when Catholics speak of nuptial things, and of physical sexual communion, they are speaking of something that is not only a sacrament, but also one that, when we live it and treat it reverently, speaks to us of the essence of our salvation.
“People experience…sexual confusion… pornography,… loneliness…”
So, as far as marriage preparation, talk of “gay rights” is simply in a different category. It addresses our common difficulties experienced as a result of original sin — a tendency to disorder that runs not only through each individual heart but through us collectively and through society. People experience individual sexual confusion, and society offers sordid things like pornography. Individuals experience loneliness, and society offers opportunities for exploitation. Satan tempts with lust, and society offers derision of chastity. The homosexual rights lobby is caught up in all of this. In looking at male-female marriage and the centrality of God’s plan, we should not make the mistake of speaking in current topical jargon (like using the word “gay”). There is a depth and importance to our study of matrimony that transcends the cliches of the current age.”
We have to do better for our youth and with authors like Joanna Bogle we can get the good word out.