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Letter of Pope Francis for the Establishment of the ‘World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation”


To my Venerable Brothers

Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson,
President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace

Cardinal Kurt Koch, 
President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity

Sharing the concern of my beloved brother, Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, for the future of creation (cf. Laudato Si’, 7-9), and at the suggestion of his representative, Metropolitan Ioannis of Pergamum, who took part in the presentation of the Encyclical Laudato Si’ on care for our common home, I wish to inform you that I have decided to institute in the Catholic Church the “World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation” which, beginning this year, is to be celebrated on 1 September, as has been the custom in the Orthodox Church for some time.

As Christians we wish to contribute to resolving the ecological crisis which humanity is presently experiencing. In doing so, we must first rediscover in our own rich spiritual patrimony the deepest motivations for our concern for the care of creation. We need always to keep in mind that, for believers in Jesus Christ, the Word of God who became man for our sake, “the life of the spirit is not dissociated from the body or from nature or from worldly realities, but lived in and with them, in communion with all that surrounds us” (Laudato Si’, 216). The ecological crisis thus summons us to a profound spiritual conversion: Christians are called to “an ecological conversion whereby the effects of their encounter with Jesus Christ become evident in their relationship with the world around them” (ibid., 217). For “living our vocation to be protectors of God’s handiwork is essential to a life of virtue; it is not an optional or a secondary aspect of our Christian experience” (ibid.).

The annual World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will offer individual believers and communities a fitting opportunity to reaffirm their personal vocation to be stewards of creation, to thank God for the wonderful handiwork which he has entrusted to our care, and to implore his help for the protection of creation as well as his pardon for the sins committed against the world in which we live. The celebration of this Day, on the same date as the Orthodox Church, will be a valuable opportunity to bear witness to our growing communion with our Orthodox brothers and sisters. We live at a time when all Christians are faced with the same decisive challenges, to which we must respond together, in order to be more credible and effective. It is my hope that this Day will in some way also involve other Churches and ecclesial Communities, and be celebrated in union with similar initiatives of the World Council of Churches.

I ask you, Cardinal Turkson, as President of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, to inform the Justice and Peace Commissions of the Bishops’ Conferences, as well as the national and international organizations involved in environmental issues, of the establishment of the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation, so that, with due regard for local needs and situations, it can be properly celebrated with the participation of the entire People of God: priests, men and women religious and the lay faithful. For this reason, it will be the task of your Council, in cooperation with the various Episcopal Conferences, to arrange suitable ways of publicizing and celebrating the Day, so that this annual event will become a significant occasion for prayer, reflection, conversion and the adoption of appropriate lifestyles.

I ask you, Cardinal Koch, as President of the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity, to make the necessary contacts with the Ecumenical Patriarchate and with other ecumenical organizations so that this World Day can serve as a sign of a common journey in which all believers in Christ take part. It will also be your Council’s responsibility to ensure that it is coordinated with similar initiatives undertaken by the World Council of Churches.

In expressing my hope that, as a result of wide cooperation, the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation will be inaugurated and develop in the best way possible, I invoke upon this initiative the intercession of Mary, Mother of God, and of Saint Francis of Assisi, whose Canticle of the Creatures inspires so many men and women of goodwill to live in praise of the Creator and with respect for creation. As a pledge of spiritual fruitfulness, I impart my Apostolic Blessing to you, Eminent Brothers, and to all those who share in your ministry.

From the Vatican, 6 August 2015
Feast of the Transfiguration of the Lord.

The Canticle of Creation

Celebrate the World Day of Prayer for the Care of Creation by watching CREATION!

Deacon-structing Marriage part 8: Submit


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

Mom Made Me Do It


Rosemary Azu is hard to miss in a crowd. She has a natural presence that draws people to her. The fact that she is usually dressed in brightly coloured traditional Nigerian dresses also makes her stand out. That natural confidence in her own identity has helped her build her own successful mortgage and real estate business, and raise three sons. But Azu’s face really lights up when she talks about the women at her parish and her Catholic Women’s Leauge council. “Catholic women are different…Catholic women are gifted, and we have to be proud of that!” she says.

It is hard to believe that she almost did not join the CWL and had to be convinced by other women every time she was asked to take on greater responsibility within her council.

Azu moved to Coquitlam, British Columbia in 1993 and looked for a parish to join. At that first parish she heard an announcement that the CWL council was holding a meeting. “In Nigeria the Catholic women’s organization is open to all married women, you don’t need to join or sign up,” she explained. Adding that in her native country when a Catholic woman marries the other married women of the parish present her with the uniform of the Catholic women’s organization.

Her first experience with the CWL in Canada was definitely a very different experience. “I showed up at the announced time and had to knock on the door [of the meeting room]. They opened the door, let me in, and continued with the meeting,” Azu recalls. She sat at the back of the meeting room for two hours listening to the members “all of whom were over 80 years old” discuss council business. At the end of the meeting Azu said the group prayed. “No one asked me why I was there. No one talked to me. I left that meeting and never went back,” she said.

Time passed. Azu discovered that based on where she lived she actually should have been attending All Saints parish in Coquitlam. She began attending that parish and things changed. Azu made friends there and became an active member of the parish community. One of those friends was the woman who served as Organization Chair for the parish’s CWL council. Azu recalls “she kept telling me I should join but after that first experience at my previous parish I said ‘no way, not for me.’”

Azu might have gotten away with saying “no” had her father not been visiting. As fathers do, he encouraged his daughter to put aside her idea of the CWL and try again. He also relayed the story to Azu’s mother who was back in Nigeria. That was the decisive factor. Her mother urged her to get involved. Azu joined the parish CWL and quietly participated in the council’s various activities as much as she could. At the time she had three young sons, was working full time, and planning to start her own business.

In 2006, while her mother was visiting from Nigeria, a friend from Azu’s CWL council asked if she would let her name stand in the upcoming elections for council executives. Azu hesitated but her mother urged her to “be more involved with the women.” A week later the same friend called back to say Azu had been elected council treasurer. She went on to serve two consecutive two year terms as treasurer, followed by a two year term as as Christian Life Chair. “Then I decided I was going to sit on the backbench for awhile,” she said..    

That was not to be. A trusted friend and mentor in the parish, who was also a CWL member, asked Azu to stand for Organizational Chair. Out of sheer respect for this fellow CWL member Azu agreed to let her name to stand. She was elected and served a two year term. Again, at the end of the two year term Azu intended to step aside and let someone else get involved. Again the same friend approached and asked her to let her name stand for election once more. Thinking she would end up serving another two years as Organizational Chair Azu agreed. Instead she was elected Council President. Azu’s mother was overjoyed. Azu says all she could think was “I have two full time jobs, I have no time!”

Azu’s mother convinced her to accept this new responsibility. “My mom told me ‘there is something these women see in you that you don’t see yourself.’” She took the leap and accepted her election as president. “I thought I was not ready, and it is true I was not. But you can’t be ready because God makes you ready,” Azu said recalling her experiences as council executive.

Her mother’s advice seems to have been accurate. During Azu’s time on the council’s executive committee, membership has grown. In the the last three years the council has gone from 163 members, to 165 to 175 members. In part it may be due to the fact that “I love to talk to people,” says Azu. She makes a special point of talking to the women of the parish. “We are all members of the Catholic Women’s League by virtue of the fact that we are all Catholic Women. I tell them the only thing they need to do is make it official by filling in the [membership] form.”

Of course one woman can not lead alone, nor can she lead a group that only has meetings but does not take action. “There are three past-presidents in our council, and I rely on them for support and advice. When I need help it is always there. That shows me that God is in this.” Azu said. Together Azu and the women of All Saint’s CWL council work to meet the needs of their parish community and the country.

Azu’s council collects clothing, food and money for the St. Vincent de Paul Society which provides support to people in need. To support education, the council gives out two bursaries each year: one to a student entering High School and one to a university student. Of course, to help foster a sense of community within the parish and provide parishioners a chance to get to know each other the council provides hospitality after Sunday Masses.

Although she says there are still days when she doesn’t know how she will balance the demands of her business, her family, and the CWL council, she wouldn’t have it any other way. “I tell women don’t be afraid to make your voice heard. You can’t make a difference watching from the corner” she said..

Photo c/o Olaf Photo.

Women’s Business


When one thinks of Prince Edward Island one tends to think of glowing sunsets over green fields, farms where animals roam free, small towns where everyone knows everyone else, and quaint green-gabled homes. One would not immediately think of the province as a place where 37 percent of people use the services of food banks to make ends meet. That’s more than twice the national average.

Low wages, a lack of full time jobs and high rates of seasonal work contribute to the disproportionately high rate of food bank use in P.E.I. Among those looking for help making ends meet are women. One of the things women using food banks often can not afford, but urgently need, are feminine hygiene products. This past spring the Catholic Women’s League in P.E.I. got in on a campaign to stock food bank shelves with those necessary, but often forgotten, products.

The “Taking Care of Women’s Business. Period.” Campaign was launched by a Tracey Comeau, a P.E.I woman who read about low income women feeling like their last shred of dignity was robbed when they could no longer afford feminine hygiene products. Comeau launched a 28 day campaign to collect women’s sanitary products and drop them off at local food banks.

The CWL Provincial Executive heard about the campaign and decided to get on board. Louise Doiron, the CWL Provincial President, sent an email to every CWL council on the island with details about the campaign.

“We told our members to buy whatever product they would normally buy, even soap and other items we know women need, and drop it off at their local food bank,” Doiron explained.

While Doiron does not know how many items were delivered by CWL members, the 28 day campaign launched by Comeau collected 1, 439 boxes of feminine hygiene products.

Inspired by the success of the campaign and the way CWL members, responded, Doiron says she is thinking of ways the league could get feminine hygiene products to even more women in need.

Photo c/o Olaf Photo.

Getting things done as only women can


In Abu Dabi in 1993, there was one Catholic Church. The work week in the Arab Emirate was Sunday to Thursday. For Jacqueline Nogier and her husband – both Catholic teachers who were working in Abu Dabi- that meant going to church after work on Sundays. This was Nogier’s life for two years. It taught her that it is possible to live one’s faith quietly and have it play a central role in one’s life. Still, when she returned to her home to Canada she couldn’t stop herself from jumping in feet first and getting involved in something that would allow to her live her faith openly, on a daily basis.

Home was Snow Lake, Manitoba, a town of just over 900 people located 684 kilometres north of Winnipeg, with an even smaller Catholic population.

Nogier says on the one Sunday a month when Mass is available, an average of 15 people attend. That means when something needs to be done “If everybody doesn’t help, nothing happens” she says. This sense of responsibility towards her community, and the need to live her faith in way she had not been able to while abroad resulted in Nogier taking some decisive action.

In 1997, shortly after returning to Canada, “I turned to my Mom and said let’s join the CWL (Catholic Women’s League) together” Nogier recalls.

“Mom” is Ella Nogier, a retired grade two teacher with a sharp wit, contagious smile, and abundant energy that she channels into whatever needs to be done.

Recalling how she joined the CWL Ella Nogier states, “there was a council in our parish, but many members didn’t go to meetings and the president ended up having meetings by herself. So my daughter and I decided we had to help her out.”

That might have been the catalyst, but joining the league gave Ella Nogier “something to do with my daughter” and fellowship with other Catholic women. “It is amazing to be with people that pray the same prayers as you. They know the Hail Mary. Not everyone [in Snow Lake] does.”

The female fellowship Ella and Jacqueline experienced in their council ignited a flame that kept growing. Jacqueline says “I didn’t want my growth and my learning to stop.” So Jacqueline accepted position on the provincial executive council, “and I pulled my mom along.”

Jacqueline also “pulled” her sister Melissa along into the league. “I found something cool and I wanted to share it with my Mom and my sister,” she recalls. And so it was that Melissa Nogier joined the CWL 15 years ago.

Her contact with the league went back to her teenage years when her mother signed her up to serve at the annual tea. Melissa says at a certain point “I realized I can’t expect women my mom’s age to continue [their work] forever.”

Her increasing exposure to the work of the CWL through her mother and sister’s involvement opened Melissa’s eyes to the needs that the league tries to respond to at the parish level. She joined the league, signing up in the same council as her mother and sister, and started taking on more and more responsibility.

Six years ago Melissa moved to Vita, Manitoba and discovered that her parish did not have a CWL council. She kept her membership active in her home parish in Snow Lake, and still helps out the council’s activities from afar. “I went home to visit and was handed four books of tickets of sell, so I did” she recalls.

Though all three Nogier women joined the CWL for different reasons, all three say they have found the league a source of spiritual and human fellowship. Melissa says “connecting with women of different ages who share one common belief” gives her a safe place to express her values, something “that doesn’t happen very often” outside the league.

Ella Nogier similarly speaks of the beauty of having the fellowship of other women, but with the added bonus that it gives her an extra connection to her two adult daughters. Meanwhile Jacqueline, who now serves as Resolutions Chair on the CWL National Executive, says her desire to keep growing and serving the work of the league has given her leadership skills and confidence she did not feel she had before. On a person note, it gave her “an extra layer of sisterhood” with her sister Melissa, and a vehicle to connect with her mother as an adult.  

Photo c/o Olaf Photo.

CWL Opening Mass – Practical Prophets of Wisdom


What happens when you gather together some of the most committed, passionate, dedicated Catholic women from across the country in one church? Vancouver’s St. Francis Xavier church in Vancouver learned the answer: the congregation outsings the choir and the decibel level threatens to take the roof off the building.

The Catholic Women’s League opened their 95th annual national convention August 16 in Vancouver. More than 800 members took part in the opening mass. Their enthusiasm was palpable.

Addressing the women during his homily Vancouver’s Archbishop Michael Miller thanked the women for their “prophetic mission of wisdom”.

Appearing to beaming as he spoke, the archbishop explained that to be wise means to have insight into how things really are. For Christians that means being able to see when something is “of God” and when it is not. Women, he said, have a particular sensitivity for discerning God’s presence and have a duty to be “practical prophets of wisdom”.  

Why are women called to be practical prophets? According to the archbishop – who cited the Second Vatican Council and Pope Francis – because women’s gift for focusing on the person in a given situation is opens the door for God’s mercy. He said “now is the hour when women are called to use their feminine genius to protect and promote the dignity of every person.”

On hand for the opening Mass and opening ceremony was the Honorable Judith Guichon, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia. She reminded the women that Canada “is a nation born of conversation, not conversation” and the CWL has been an integral part of that conversation, providing a strong foundation for communities. She called on the league’s 85,000 members to continue working to uphold the Christian values that provide a solid foundation for the communities that make up the nation.

The CWL convention continues until August 19 in Vancouver.

Photos courtesy of Olaf Photo.

Deacon-structing Marriage part 7: Heaven


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


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

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.