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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

The Strong Arm of the Church: The Knights of Columbus

A household name for many, the Knights of Columbus have grown into the world’s largest lay Catholic organization. But, surprisingly, there’s still a lot of mystery that surrounds these noble men. In light of the upcoming Supreme Convention, we thought you might want to find out why the Knights remain the ‘Strong Arm of the Church’.

Don’t forget to tune in for Salt + Light’s live coverage of this year’s 133rd Supreme Convention of the Knights of Columbus.

Deacon-structing Marriage: Part 3

Marriage3

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

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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.

Read more


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

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Becoming Committed

Ecology12

In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Twelve: Becoming Committed

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Twelve is to empower and strongly encourage the people of God to become informed about environmental issues – and to then act, accordingly.

Steps

1. Show the video ” Program Twelve: Becoming Committed”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • How can I become more involved with the environment?
  • How is the environment and faith connected?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Think Globally, Work Locally

Ecology11

In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Eleven: Think Globally, Work Locally

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Eleven is to inspire students to learn from committed Catholic eco justice leaders in our communities who really are showing us a way forward.

Steps

1. Show the video ” Program Eleven: Think Globally, Work Locally”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • What creative initiatives are being taken on a local level?
  • Why is it good to grow and collect your own seeds?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Do Not Despair

Ecology10

In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Ten: Do Not Despair

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Ten is to introduce to the eighth theme of the CCCB document “Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment” and to discover that, despite all the “bad news” about the environment, our faith calls us to live in hope and to do whatever we can to bring about positive change.

Steps

1. Show the video “Program Ten: Do Not Despair”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • What is the eight theme of the document and why is it important?
  • How is St. Gabriel’s Parish a green space?

  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?

  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Creation and Spirituality

Ecology9

In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Nine: Creation and Spirituality

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Nine is to introduce to the seventh theme of the CCCB document “Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment” about the created world inviting a sense of mystery and awe.

Steps

1. Show the video “Program Nine: Creation and Spirituality”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • What is the seventh theme of the document and why is it important?
  • How does the natural environment bring wonder and awe into your life?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.

Cultivating and Caring for Creation: Solidarity

Ecology8

In preparation for Pope Francis’ new ecological encyclical, Laudato Si, which came out on June 18, 2015, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Saskatoon, led by Bishop Donald Bolen, have released a series of videos and study guides on how Catholics are leading and participating in a new commitment to respect and protect.

The series is based on a recent CCCB document on the environment and it includes 12 programs 10 minutes each, featuring interviews with Bishop Donald Bolen. The segments interweave papal teaching on the environment with interviews or presentations of various environmental initiatives that have integrated a healthy relationship with the environment into their Christian commitment and lifestyle.

See below for the study guide and video for Program Eight: Solidarity

Study Guide

Goal

The goal of Program Eight is to introduce to the sixth theme of the CCCB document “Building a New Culture – Central Themes in Recent Church Teaching on the Environment” about addressing the basic needs of those who are systematically oppressed or marginalised.

Steps

1. Show the video “Program Eight: Solidarity”

2. Ask students to form small groups to describe the following impressions from the video:

  • What is the sixth theme of the document and why is it important?

  • What are some things that we can do for the environment to help future generations?
  • What did you know after viewing the video that you didn’t know before?
  • Which quote from what pope in this episode means the most to you and why?

3. Option for Take-Home Assignment. Using the internet links offered here, find more facts about:

  • Existing Catholic eco justice initiatives
  • The writings of Popes on the environment

4. Write 1.5 pages on the results of your research.

5. Group discussion

In groups, first share your short essays and then, asking one person to represent the discussion, make presentations to the class about any or all of the above.
Include suggestions on how students could start an ongoing eco justice project or become involved with local Catholic eco justice projects already in existence.