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Deacon-structing Marriage part 8: Submit

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Last week’s Gospel was from John 6:63-68 (the end of the Bread of Life Discourse) and the second reading was from Paul’s Letter to the Ephesians.

This passage from Ephesians 5:22-32 is always a cause for discontent. That is because no one reads it to the end; they get fixated in the first couple of lines:

“Wives, be subject to your own husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body. But as the church is subject to Christ, so also the wives ought to be to their husbands in everything.” (Ep 5:22-24)

Then we start getting all kinds of excuses as to how Paul lived in a sexist, male-dominated culture, yadda, yadda…. But let’s examine this passage further. What does it mean to be subject to someone in the same way that we are subject “to the Lord”?

In the translation that I have before me, the word that is used is, “subject”. In other translations you may find the word, “submit” or “be submissive”. I can see how some women may recoil at the idea of being submissive. That is, of course, if your husband is a sexist and domineering, angry man. But if your husband is Christ? Would you be happy being submissive to Christ?

This is where I always pull out my trusty Etymological Dictionary: The word, “submit” comes from the Latin “submittere”. It literally means sub- ‘under’ + mittere ‘send, put.’ In other words, “to put under” or “to send under”.

Remember at the end of Mass the priest used to send us forth with the words, “Ite, missa est”? The Latin “missa” is from the same root at “mittere” – to send. Ite, missa est, means “go, you are sent”. This is where the English word “dismissal” comes from (go, you are dismissed). When we are dismissed, we are sent. And guess what? The word “mission” comes from the same root. To be sent means to go on a mission.

We can say that to “submit to someone” is to be “put (or sent) under the mission” of that person. For a wife to be submitted to her husband means that she should be under the mission of her husband, in the same way that they (both) should be under the mission of the Lord.

This is where we need to continue reading the passage:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself; for no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ also does the church, because we are members of His body.” (Ephesians 25-30)

Need I explain further? The husband’s mission is to love his wife in the same way that Christ loved the Church: totally. What wife would not want to be under that mission of her husband? What wife would not want to submit to her husband’s mission to love her, sanctify her, that she would be holy and blameless?

Paul continues by quoting Jesus in Matthew 19:5 and Genesis 2:24:

For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and shall be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh. This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church. Nevertheless, each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself, and the wife must see to it that she respects her husband. (Ephesians 5:31-33)

Ephesians 5:21-32 is not about wives being passive or conforming to their dominating husbands. It is certainly not encouraging husbands to be dominating to their wives. This passage is about how Marriage is about how Christ loves his body, the Church. And it “is a mystery” and Paul is clear that he says that he is “speaking with reference to Christ and the Church.”

St. Paul begins last week’s Second Reading with the words, “submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.” (Ephesians 5:21) Husbands and wives must submit to one another and submit to Christ if they want to succeed in their marriages. This is not just for wives; it is for husbands too. They must both love each other as Christ loves the Church. Again, I am reminded of “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect”.  Impossible. But this must be our goal.

I’m curious to know your thoughts on this. Write to me. (pedro@saltandlighttv.org) Next week we’ll circle back and see what all this has to do with the Eucharist.


DcnPedro Radio1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage part 7: The Eucharist

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I recently heard a radio program where they were exploring the idea that the Summer of 2015 was the Summer that love died. They argued this because of the number of celebrity break-ups: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner; Britney Spears and Charlie Ebersol; Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas and Gwen Stefani and Gavin Rossdale. Not to mention Miss Piggy and Kermit the Frog! So sad.

One of the commentators asked the question that I was asking myself, “Who cares?” The answer however, rings true: Love and Marriage are in such disgrace, in such decay that we need to hold on to those ideals, the fairy tale marriages, longing with hope that love is not dead. It’s true. People are dissatisfied with marriage. Marriage has run out of wine. Perhaps, instead of looking at celebrities as marriage role models, we need to look to the Eucharist. (And read this whole deacon-structing marriage series!)

Last time, we spoke about Marriage being a foretaste of Heaven and throughout the series we’ve looked at what it means to love totally. It was just a matter of time until we ended up speaking about the Eucharist.

If you’ve been going to Mass for the last 5 weeks and paying attention, you’ve noticed that we’ve been reading the sixth chapter of the Gospel of John, also known as the “Bread of Life Discourse”. In the Gospel of John, the section when Jesus makes the claim that he is “the bread come down from Heaven” and that “the bread that I will give is my flesh” begins with the feeding of the multitudes. We hear the last installment of this “mini-series on the Eucharist” today (21st Sunday, Ordinary Time, Year B) at Mass. We have spent the last seven weeks looking a Marriage and all the while I kept thinking that I should be writing about the Eucharist; well, here we go. It is no coincidence that today, as we begin wrapping up our deacon-structing series on Marriage, the themes of Marriage and the Eucharist converge at Mass.

If you ever have to explain the Eucharist to someone, the best image you can use is that of Marriage. Marriage is a total self-giving. It is a pouring out of one-self for the other. Marriage is a free, faithful, fruitful and total giving. This is the kind of love God has for us. This is the kind of “one-flesh-union” that God wants to have with us. This union, this “Communion” is what happens in the Eucharist.

  • Christ gives himself freely: “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:18)
  • Christ gives himself faithfully: “I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)
  • Also Christ’s self giving is fruitful: “I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10)
  •  And finally, Christ gives himself totally: “Take, eat; this is my body….” (Matthew 26:26; Mark 14:22).

That is why today’s second reading is the one where St. Paul says to the Ephesians that husbands must love their wives as Christ loves the Church (Ephesians 5:25).

This passage from Ephesians 5:22-32 is always a cause for discontent and therefore deserves its own blog entry. Why don’t you write to me (pedro@saltandlighttv.org) and share your thoughts on it and then come back next week and let’s go through it together?

Photo  – CNS/Joey Kelly, EPA


DcnPedro Radio1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage part 7: Heaven

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Husbands and wives are called to love each other as God loves us. Last week I asked if this is even possible. We spoke about the story of the Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12) and the story of Tobias and Sarah from the Book of Tobit, both popular Wedding readings. Both these stories teach us a little about how married couples can love each other totally and make sure they don’t run out of wine.

First, we must invite Jesus. Jesus is at the wedding of Cana because he was invited. Just as you or I would not crash a wedding, Jesus is not going to be in your marriage if you don’t invite him. Make sure you invite Jesus into your Marriage every day – not just as you pray on your wedding day, but every day, for the rest of your lives.

Second, we must pay attention. I don’t think that Mary notices that they’ve run out of wine because she’s been going to the bar every half an hour for another drink. She notices because she’s paying attention. In a Marriage, you have to pay attention. Not just to each other – I hope you do – but pay attention to everything. What makes her happy? What annoys him? What can I do to put her needs before mine every time? What can she do to put my needs before hers every time? That’s total love.

Third, we must pray. Mary didn’t try to solve the problem by herself; she went straight to Jesus. And at the beginning of Tobias and Sarah’s story we see them both praying (In fact Sarah is in a bad state, she’s considering suicide; instead she prays). Then when they meet and get married, what do they do on their wedding night? They pray (Totit 8:4-8). How many couples on their wedding night, when they get to the hotel room kneel down and pray? Pray. Invite Jesus into your Marriage and pray apart and together. Marriage is not going to be a sign of our relationship with God if we are not in a relationship with God.

And don’t be afraid of intercessory prayer. It’s OK to go straight to Jesus and it’s ok to ask Mary to intercede for us. Jesus won’t say no to his mother and Mary won’t take no from Jesus.

Sometimes we are afraid to ask for things that we think are not important or that God definitely has more important things to attend to than to worry about our little, petty, insignificant needs. Mary asked Jesus for wine, for crying out loud! Jesus cares about our little, insignificant needs. And he definitely cares that we don’t run out of wine. Don’t be afraid to pray for little things and don’t be afraid to ask Mary for help.

Fourth, we must act. Love is not a feeling. Love is action; it is an act of your will. We must always do – and when we do, we must do whatever He tells us to. That’s why we need to be marriages of prayer. We need to be people of prayer so that we know what Jesus is asking us to do – no matter how ridiculous it might seem: fill those jars with water… might not make any sense. No matter, do whatever He tells you.

And if you’re not sure, ask for help. That’s why marriage ceremonies are public. We surround ourselves with family and friends because a Marriage is a community event. We need support and help from our family and friends. We need to help married couples if they are to succeed at loving each other totally.

Last, we must enjoy. Enjoy the good wine. Wine is a symbol of love, life and joy. Jesus wants you to have his joy in you and that your joy be made full (John 15:11). That’s Heaven.

The Catholic Church teaches that Marriage is a Sacrament. A Sacrament is a visible sign of invisible Grace. Marriage points to an invisible reality; to a greater reality. But Sacraments are Sacraments because they make Christ present. We learn that Jesus is present in the Eucharist and that’s a very real, physical presence, but every Sacrament makes Christ present.

Marriage makes Christ present, not just on the day of your wedding as you exchange your wedding vows, but every day of your married life as you administer the Sacrament of Marriage to each other. Every time a wife and a husband look to each other and they say “I am going to put this man’s needs, this woman’s needs before mine,” they will be making Christ present. And their Marriage will become a sign of God’s love for all.

The Church also teaches that Marriage is a Vocation. That’s because for people who are called to Married Life, Marriage is how they are going to get to Heaven; Marriage is the ordinary way to holiness. Think about that: God gave you your husband; God gave you your wife to help you get to Heaven. A wife’s job is to help her husband get to Heaven and a husband’s job is to help his wife get to Heaven. How beautiful and amazing and scary that is!

But we can do that; we can live Marriage as a Sacrament and we can live Marriage as a Vocation if we keep our eyes on the wine: Invite Jesus, pay attention, pray, pray, pray, (and ask Mary for help), and then always do whatever He tells you to do. Then you’ll be able to enjoy the new wine and His joy will be in you and your joy will be complete. That is Heaven!

As always, email [Write to me] me your comments.


DcnPedro Radio1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage part 6: The Wedding at Cana

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Last week, we saw that because God loves us freely, faithfully, fruitfully and totally, Married Love, has to be free, faithful, fruitful and total. This is why we can say that in Marriage we come closest to loving another person the way God loves us.

But can we do that? Can I love my wife the way God loves me? Can I give myself totally, pour myself totally into my wife and in turn receive her totally? I am reminded of Jesus’ words, “be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48) Can I be perfect like God is perfect?

No, I can’t. But I sure as hell can try.

That’s what we are being asked to do as husbands and wives.
It’s good to know that we are not alone. I am reminded of another situation that was less-than-perfect but that turned out pretty good in the end.

The Wedding at Cana (John 2:1-12) can only be found in the Gospel of John and really, compared to other miracles of Jesus, this miracle stands apart. But then again, John is not so concerned with miracles. He’s concerned with “signs.” In fact, that’s what he calls them. In the Gospel of John we never read about miracles; we read about signs. So what is this “sign” and why did Jesus choose to perform his first sign at a wedding on the “third day” even though his “hour” had not yet come?

A sign (as we learned when we looked at Sacraments is something visible that points to something that’s not there. If you’re going somewhere and don’t know the way, you follow the signs – once you get to your destination, you no longer need the signs. And the story of the Wedding of Cana is full of signs.

For the Jewish people, Marriage itself was a sign. A Marriage is the most common image used to describe the love of God for his people. Marriage in this life, points to the Marriage in Heaven that we will all be part of: The Marriage of God and his people. All of us in Heaven will be married to God. That’s the kind of relationship that God wants to have with us: a love relationship that is total; the love relationship that exists between the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.

That’s why most of us can say that our marriage is Heaven, right?

The truth is that many marriages are not Heaven.

That’s because they’ve run out of wine.

In Jewish Scriptures wine symbolises love. But the “new” wine symbolises the love of God. In the Song of Songs, the couple drinks the wine – that symbolises they are drinking from the love of God. This was what God intended from the beginning. We can maybe say that Adam and Eve were drunk in the love of God. For Jewish people this is the kind of wine that will be served in the New Jerusalem, in the New Kingdom. Wine is a reminder of the life, joy and love that God wants us to have – especially in Marriage. But many Marriages have run out of wine.

We can maybe say that Marriage is under attack.

I am reminded of another beautiful Scripture story: Book of Tobit. Tobias marries Sarah, but Sarah had been married seven times, and every time the evil demon, Asmodeus, the demon of lust, killed each husband before the marriage could be consummated. According to the Book of Tobit, Marriage is under attack by the demon of lust. And today, we can say that many marriages have run out of wine.

So, how do we keep the wine in our marriages? How do we make sure we have new wine in our marriages? Email me [Write to me] your thoughts and stories, and come back next week to find out what suggestions we can find in the Gospel of John.


DcnPedro Radio1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage part 5: Total love

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Last week we learned that God not only created Marriage, but He has a design for Marriage. This was the plan from the beginning. When the Book of Genesis says that God created humans male and female in his likeness and image and then he blessed them and told them to be fruitful and multiply (Genesis 1:26-28), he is, in effect creating Marriage. It is in that fruitful and total union that can only exist between one man and one woman that we come closest to being an image of God.

In Marriage, according to God’s design, we come closest to being an image of God because it is in that fruitful and total union that we come closest to loving another person the way God loves us.

So of course the next logical question is, “how does God love us?”

We could spend the next couple of months studying Scripture, doing research, praying and reflecting on our own experience to try to figure out how God loves us, but the work has already been done. So let me save you the time.

There are four qualities to the way God loves us…

  • First, God loves us freely. God’s love is a gift. It’s free. There’s nothing you can do to earn it; there’s nothing you can do to not have it. You can’t buy it. If you don’t want it, too bad; you have it. And all love is free. If it’s not free, it’s not love. Especially married love has to be free. When couples get married in the Catholic Church they make three promises. The first one is that they’ve come freely and without reserve.
  • Second, God loves us faithfully. This is all over Scripture: God’s faithfulness is everlasting. God’s love is faithful, no matter what. You will always have his love. And again, all love has to be faithful. If it’s not faithful, it’s not love. If it has conditions, it’s not love. And faithfulness means forever. Need I say that especially married love needs to be faithful? The second promise married couples make when marrying in the Catholic Church is that they will honour each other for the rest of their lives: Faithful.
  • Third, God loves us fruitfully. This means that it always bears good fruit; it always leads to good things. God’s love makes us better. Furthermore, God’s love is creative. And all love needs to make us better. If love does not bear good fruit, it’s not love. Love makes us feel better, makes us grow and makes us love more. It is always fruitful (which is why sometimes it’s painful). Married love needs to be fruitful. And the fullest expression of that fruitfulness in married love is that it is procreative. The third promise that a couple will make when marrying in the Catholic Church is that they are open to children.

So God’s love is free, faithful and fruitful and all types of love have to be free, faithful and fruitful.

But there is a fourth quality to the love that God has for us that is not necessary for other types of love, except Marriage. That is that God’s love is total.

God loves us totally. God gives each one of us his total love. He gives himself totally to each one of us. That type of love is not required in any kind of love (in fact it’s not appropriate in other forms of love) except in Marriage.

A husband has to pour himself out totally into his wife, all of himself: emotionally, spiritually, and sexually; his body, his dreams, his fears, his baggage, his fertility, his pain… totally, and his wife has to receive him totally – warts and all. In turn, she gives herself totally to her husband: emotionally, spiritually, sexually, her fertility, her dreams, fears, and pain; all her past… everything, and her husband receives her completely and totally. That is what it means to become one flesh.

God loves us freely, faithfully, fruitfully and totally and that is the kind of love that needs to exist in a Marriage, which is why we can say that in Marriage, we come closest to loving another person, the way God loves us: freely, faithfully, fruitfully and totally.

What do you think? How hard is it to live this kind of love in your Marriage? Write to me. And come back next week to learn how to make loving this way in Marriage possible.


Photo credit: CNS photo/Paul Haring


DcnPedro Radio1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage Part 4: From the Beginning

Thanks to Colleen Dulle who reached out to me via Twitter and shared this video that was made by the Archdiocese of St. Louis, Missouri. Great idea to celebrate marriage! (Maybe Noel in his Weekly Round-up could dig up some other videos people have made about Marriage.)

My weekly round-up has been that in the last two weeks, I’ve preached at two marriages. As a Deacon, I don’t get to officiate marriages very often – mostly, deacons do ‘mixed marriages’, that is when a Catholic is marrying a non-Catholic, because in these cases, more often than not, there is no Mass. When two Catholics marry, chances are that the Marriage Rite will take place in the context of the Mass and when this is the case, the presider of the Mass (which, of course, has to be a priest) has to be the presider over the Marriage Rite. Since my ordination in 2012 I’ve presided over 4 marriages, but have had the chance to preach at several others.

Three of the most common Wedding readings are Genesis 2.18-24 (“Therefore a man shall leave his mother and father and cling to his wife and the two will become one flesh”); 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:8 (love is patient, love is kind, etc.) and Matthew 5:13-16 (Jesus talking about divorce and re-instating that the two become one flesh).

I love that word, “cling”. It reminds me of “cling-wrap.” You know the plastic saran wrap that sticks to everything? That’s how a couple has to cling to each other. That’s what it means to be one flesh.

And I love that Jesus doesn’t come up with this out of the blue. He says that “from the beginning it was so….” and then he quotes the passage from, literally, the “beginning”: Genesis 2.

When planning a wedding or deciding to get married, no one ever thinks what God’s plan for their marriage is. But this is a very good question to ask yourselves before you get married: What is God’s plan for Marriage? What is God’s plan for our Marriage? God has a very specific plan for Marriage in general. This is what I’ve been talking about for the last couple of weeks (read part 1, part 2 and part 3).

God has created and designed Marriage. Marriage is not something the Church invented or that randomly evolved out of our need to socially constrict our impulse to procreate. It is not a patriarchal imposition nor is it something that people do because it’s instinct. God planned it. God created it. God designed it.

From the beginning.

God creates the universe. He separates light from darkness, waters from the dry land. He populates the skies with planets and stars and populates the waters and land with plants and animals. Then on the sixth day he creates human beings.

Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.”

So God created humankind in his image,
in the image of God he created them;
male and female he created them.

God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.” (Genesis 1:26-28 New Revised Standard Version)

The first thing God does after He creates human beings is He creates Marriage. In fact, as He is creating human beings, He is creating Marriage: In his image and likeness, He created them, male and female. Then He blessed them and said, “be fruitful and multiply.”

God makes us male and female, with the desire for union and fruitfulness because it is in that union that we become an image of God.

Let me rephrase that: It is in the fruitful and total union that can only take place between one man and one woman that we come closest to being an image of God.

This doesn’t mean that we have to be married in order to be an image of God, but in the total and fruitful union that can only take place between one man and one woman we come closest to being the image and likeness of God, because it is in that kind of union (which we call Marriage) that we come closest to loving another person the way God loves us.

If that doesn’t make your head spin, I don’t know what will. This is what God designed from the beginning.

Let me know your thoughts and come back next week and find out how God loves us.


DcnPedro Radio1Every week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage: Part 3

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Last week we looked again at something I wrote in 2009 about the nature and design of Marriage. I am curious to know your thoughts on this and whether you think it makes sense. If there are any moral theologians out there, please comment as you would know better than I whether my argument that all Church moral teaching is based on natural law is correct (and whether my explanation of natural law is accurate).

This past week I read a fascinating article in Spanish about the true meaning of the word “matrimony”. The word, the priest who wrote the article explained, comes from the Latin, “matrimonium” which means marriage, but which in turn comes from “matrem” (mater) which means mother. Why would the word for marriage be based on the word for mother? The article explained that “matrem”+ “monium” in Latin refers to the “office of, or condition of the (or being a) mother”. This makes sense because the “matrix” is the uterus, the organ which enables a woman to become a mother (it’s not clear whether “mater” comes from “matrix” or the other way around). Either way, it’s clear the two words (and functions) are deeply related. (not to mention the relationship between the English words “woman” and “womb”).

The whole point of the article was to show the relationship between “matrimony” and “motherhood.” I am not going to (neither do I propose that the Church does) say that all women who enter into marriage have to become mothers (nor that all women have to be mothers – although all women in a sense are spiritual mothers in a way that men could never be – maybe leave that for another time), however can we learn something from looking at the etymology of a word? Can we deny that marriage is intrinsically related to parenting?

Of course, in English, we seldom use the word “matrimony.” Instead we say “marriage.” Looking at the etymology of the word “marriage” is less revealing. “Marriage” is from the French “mariage” which in turn comes from the vulgar Latin “maritaticum”, from the Latin “maritatus.” All these meant “to be given in marriage.” But the origins of the word “marry” (as in to give oneself, or one’s offspring in marriage; wedlock) is uncertain. Perhaps it comes from providing a man with a “mari” (a young woman). Perhaps there is no relation, but “mari” sounds awfully close to “Mary.”

In Spanish although the word “matrimonio” is commonly used for marriage, the word for “to get married” is “casarse.” To be married is to “estar casado” and you could say that a marriage is a “casamiento.” There is a clear etymological relationship between “casar” (to marry) and “casa” (house or home). Again, can we deny that to be married implies creating a home? Is this related to parenting?

The Catechism of the Catholic Church says in chapter 3, article 7 that “the matrimonial covenant, by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life, is by its nature ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring; this covenant between baptized persons has been raised by Christ the Lord to the dignity of a sacrament.” (CCC 1601.Emphasis my own)

Later it says, “by its very nature the institution of marriage and married love is ordered to the procreation and education of the offspring and it is in them that it finds its crowning and glory.” (CCC 1652) I always learned that marriage (and the sexual act) has both a unitive and procreative function. Unitive because it brings the couple together into “one flesh” and procreative because that’s what’s meant to happen when people have sex (I love it when people say that they got pregnant by accident; that’s what’s meant to happen!). But is one function more fundamental than the other? Is it important that the couple be “one” for the good of the offspring? Does the fertility of the union allow for the unity? Is what makes marriage “good for the spouses” the fact that it is procreative? [Even if the couple cannot conceive, if in its nature the sexual act is procreative/fertile, the union is made possible. And, as I have written before, it is in that total and fertile union that can only exist between one man and one woman that we come closest to being an image of God, for in that kind of union (which the Church calls Marriage) we come closest to loving another human being the way God loves us, freely, faithfully, fruitfully and totally. But I digress.]

Is Marriage intrinsically related to the natural ability to parent? By merely looking at the meaning of the word, I would say so. The Church teaches that it is so. What do you think? What does the Church say about couples that are not able to conceive? Why is it necessary for a Marriage to be consummated? Share your thoughts and knowledge with me.

Since we’ve looked at English and Spanish, I am curious to know what the words for “marriage” or “matrimony” are in other languages and what their etymological meanings are. Can you help? Send me your thoughts via Facebook (here below), twitter @deaconpedrogm or email:pedro@saltandlighttv.org.

CNS photo/Ramoncito Campo, handout via Reuters


pedro_edit_edit_editEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage: part 2

Marriage2

Last week, I asked for your ideas. How would you define Marriage? The point is not to re-define Marriage, but to try to figure out what Marriage really is and why the Church teaches what she teaches about the true nature and design of Marriage.

The first comment I received was from Rosemarie via Facebook:

“Marriage is a union between one man and one woman.”

My response: Yes it is. But why? Are those the only ingredients necessary for Marriage? What if the one man and one woman are siblings? What is a union? I think we need to go deeper.

I also received the following comment from Monica B:

Many thanks to do this reflection on marriage. I am myself exploring the subject on many aspects as I am separated after 14 years of marriage. To forgive myself for this marriage I had to come to an understanding that this failure took root way before the marriage, in a lack of understanding of an universal law that we sometimes put aside to favor some exterior aspect of our lives: economic, social, political, etc.. In my case, I don’t make decisions based on the heart, mostly the mind.

If we fail to understand the sacrament of marriage is that we are blinded by the illusions of the material aspect of life on earth. We are first a light being in a physical body and there is no effort put in to understand how this ‘soul’ is constructed, how it works within the body. Should be taught at school.

My response:

Monica – this is exactly why I am trying to do this exercise. Wouldn’t it be great if in school, students were asked to logically figure out what Marriage is? I would like us to figure this out with the mind – so often do we make decisions based on the heart alone and when it comes to Marriage, since we are not really taught the Truth about love, Marriage, sexuality and relationships, we go into Marriage with the wrong ideas and expectations. I truly believe that if we spent the amount of dollars we spend on Church Marriage Tribunals, instead on Marriage preparation, we would have a lot less failed marriages.

But you also bring up a good point, since we’re trying to define Marriage and that is the spiritual aspect. We can’t say that Marriage (as nothing in life, especially Sacraments) is purely a temporal, physical, material thing. Marriage is also a spiritual reality and must reflect that. This is in part why Marriage in the Catholic Church is a Sacrament. Earthly Marriage points to the one Marriage which we all will be part of in Heaven; the Marriage of the Lamb – that’s the relationship that God wants to have with us: a Marriage relationship (or at least that’s the closest we can come to describe it with our limited human language). That’s big stuff – and good news!

Monica also mentions in passing something I hope you didn’t miss: Universal law. There is a universal law regarding Marriage. I would like to call it Natural Law. I also refer to this as “God’s design.”

I wrote earlier that “a marriage is a relationship within which sex is guaranteed not to cause any problems, heartaches, disease, issues or any pain.” That is a very rough definition I played around with after researching and meditating at length on this idea that there is natural (or universal) law regarding Marriage. Let me add to it then: We have three ingredients for Marriage so far: (1) one man and one woman in a (2) sexual union that is (3) not just physical but also spiritual.

I’d like to try to bring these three together.  But before I begin to untangle myself out of this noodle soup I’ve cooked, can I draw your attention to a comment that came from Jason Gennaro when I first asked the question in June 2009 — Jason makes an excellent comment that every definition about Marriage has to include God in it.

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pedro_edit_edit_editEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing Marriage: Part 1

A groom and bride hold hands on their wedding day. Catholic marriages in the United States are at their lowest point since 1965. (CNS file photo/Jon L. Hendricks) See CATHOLIC-MARRIAGE March 19, 2015.

So here we go….

I’ve been sitting here pondering on the SCOTUS decision of last week, legalising same-sex marriage in all of the U.S. and all I kept thinking of was “But, what is marriage?” Who decides what marriage is? Why is marriage of any concern to the state? Who designed marriage in the first place?

As I was thinking, reading and praying about this, I found a series of articles that I wrote 6 years ago. Do you remember Miss California, Carrie Prejean? She, a professed Christian, was put on the spot by Beauty Pageant Judge, Perez Hilton and asked if she thought that same-sex marriage should be legalised in every State.

At the time, this led me to ask the very simple question, “What is marriage?” I asked for your input and received lots of good comments. I’d like to pick up where I left off.

So, this is what we’re going to do. Read “What if I was Miss California” and read my following blog entry, What is Marriage and send in your comments.

I am interested in how you would define Marriage. What are the main ingredients for a marriage? Love? Sex? Gender? The ability to procreate? Faithfulness? What do you think? What is your experience?

Send your comments in via Facebook or Yahoo (by writing a comment here below) or email me your comments to pedro@saltandlighttv.org. I hope to be able to publish some of your comments.

You have a week. Starting next week, we will begin deacon-structing marriage and you’ll know, not only what I think and what the Church teaches, but also why.

Off to the races.

(CNS file photo/Jon L. Hendricks)


pedro_edit_edit_editEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

Deacon-structing life

Birkenau_gate
This is a reflection for the 13th Sunday in Ordinary Time, year B. The readings are Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24; Psalm 30; 2 Corinthians 8:7, 9, 13-15 and Mark 5:21-43.

God did not make death. That’s what I kept thinking last Saturday. You see, I was in Poland and last Saturday I had the chance to spend the day at Auschwitz-Birkenau extermination camps. All I kept thinking was, “God did not make death.” But there was a lot of death at Auschwitz.

Between 1940 and 1945, some 1.2 million men, women and children were brought to the extermination camps of Auschwitz and Birkenau in Poland. Of these, 90% were killed and of those who were killed, about 90% were Jews. People would be brought to Auschwitz in box cars (for cattle). When they arrived, they would be forced off the trains and separated by gender: men to one side and women to the other. Then they would be separated again: those who were deemed suitable for work and those not suitable for work. If you were found not suitable for work, you would be sent directly to the gas chamber. 75% of the people who arrived in Auschwitz never stayed there; they went straight from the train into the gas chamber. Among them, a Jewish woman converted to Catholicism by the name of Edith Stein and her sister Rosa. Edith Stein was a Carmelite Sister and is now known as St. Teresa Benedicta of Cross.

Of the 25% who were found suitable for work, the average stay was 3 months. The number one cause of death (besides gassing) was starvation. I don’t have to tell you the cruelty, horror and inhumanity that went on at Auschwitz and other camps. I don’t need to tell you all the horrible inhumanity and suffering that still goes on every day right here in our streets, but also in the Middle East because of ISIS and in Uganda because of Joseph Kony, and also in so many other places because of human cruelty.

Because of sin. God is not the author of death nor he delights in death.

There was a lot of death at Auschwitz, but God did not make death. That is why Jesus consistently fought against sickness and death. I used to think that it’s not possible that Jesus healed everyone he met. We only hear those stories in the Gospels, but Jesus didn’t heal everyone. I don’t think that anymore. We only hear stories of people being healed in the Gospels because Jesus healed everyone! Everyone who comes to Jesus and touches the hem of his garment or pleads to him for their sick child receives a healing. Everyone who meets Jesus is healed. But it’s not always easy to see the healing and not everyone gets healed physically. That’s because God in his wisdom and awesome majesty is working to get us to Heaven. This life is but a rest stop; we are but pilgrims on a journey. God is healing us so that we can have eternal life. We believe that death is a consequence of sin, but our Faith also teaches that death is a solution to sin – because once we die to this life and we are finally home with the Father, we will sin no more. That’s our faith.

But still, walking through Auschwitz last Saturday, it was hard not to question faith. Nazi extermination camps didn’t just kill 6 million Jews; they also killed some 7 million non-Jews, including almost two million Polish Catholics, some three million Soviet Prisoners of war; over 1 million Gipsies, 200,000 people with disabilities and thousands of people from other ethnic and religious minorities including thousands of Catholic priests and religious. What’s worse is that for many, places like Auschwitz killed God, because it killed faith. Walking through Auschwitz last Saturday, it was hard not to wonder where God was.

God did not make death. God is the God who takes on our suffering. Where was God at Auschwitz? He was on the train, herded like cattle. He was there holding the hand of a little girl as they were taken into the extermination chamber. Where was God? He was on the Cross. God did not make death. God is the God who takes our sickness and our death. He dies so that death can be no more. St. Paul tells us that death has no victory (1 Cor 15:55) and that the last enemy to be destroyed is death (1 Cor 15:26). Well, the battle has been won. Death is no more. Jesus Christ has destroyed death. #LoveWins

God is not the author of death. God is the author of life. God is present in every moment of life. Where was God at Auschwitz? He was there in the small act of kindness; the encouraging smile; the strengthening word. He was there in that small piece of smuggled dried bread so that someone could eat. God was present in every heroic act of love, the least of which was the final act of St. Maximilian Kolbe who offered to take the place of a man, a stranger, condemned to death by starvation so he could have the opportunity to one day go home and be with his wife and children. St. Maximilian Kolbe gave his life and that man did survive to go home to be with his wife and children.

God is not the author of death. God is the author of life and we too are called to be authors of life. In everything we do and say, we must always give life. We go to Mass to receive the Author of Life in the Eucharist so we can go out there and give life to others. At the end of the day when you do your Examen, ask yourself two questions: “Who did I give life to today?” and “How did I give life today?” We are called to give life in everything we say and do; St. Paul tells the Corinthians that if they can, they should support the Church in Jerusalem (1 Cor 8). That’s a way to give life. Last week Pope Francis released an encyclical, Laudato Si, on the care of our common home; it’s about caring for creation. It’s about giving life. It’s not just about trees and whales or protecting lakes and the ozone layer, although that is important. Laudato Si is about respecting all creation.

This week’s episode of Creation is titled Respect. If our call to care for the environment begins with a sense of wonder (as we learned in Episode 1) and humans have a special place in the created world (as we learned in episode 2), what does it mean to “respect” creation? I’d like you to watch episode 3, but I will give you a hint: Respect means recognizing the inherent dignity of all creation. That means that when we respect, we give life. [Watch Creation: Respect, this Tuesday, June 30th at 8:30pm ET.)

Giving respect means giving life. It means defending and protecting all human life from conception to natural death. It means defending and protecting marriage and family. It means working for social justice and for the dignity of all workers; for the poor and those in the peripheries. We are called to work for life because God is the God of life.

God did not make death. Everything that comes from God is life. There is a song by Christian singer/songwriter Laura Story called Blessings. In it she sings:

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not our home.

This is not our home because there is death in this life and we belong with God who did not make death. Our home is with God, the Author of Life.


Photo credit: The main gate at the former German Nazi death camp of Auschwitz II (Birkenau). Michel Zacharz AKA Grippenn[1] – Own work.


pedro_edit_edit_editEvery week, Deacon Pedro takes a particular topic apart, not so much to explore or explain the subject to its fullness, but rather to provide insights that will deepen our understanding of the subject. And don’t worry, at the end of the day he always puts the pieces back together. There are no limits to deaconstructing: Write to him and ask any questions about the faith or Church teaching:
pedro@saltandlighttv.org @deaconpedrogm

——————————–

We pray for blessings, we pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering

All the while You hear each spoken need
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom, Your voice to hear
We cry in anger when we cannot feel You near
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough

And all the while You hear each desperate plea
And long that we’d have faith to believe

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

And what if trials of this life
Are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us, when darkness seems to win
We know that pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home
It’s not our home

‘Cause what if Your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?

What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst
This world can’t satisfy?

And what if trials of this life
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights
Are Your mercies in disguise?