I Do, For Now

 

Pope Francis Coleman blogRecently, our spontaneously-tongued pontiff, Pope Francis, made comments to journalists regarding his impression of the current state of marriage in the Church (readers of Italian can find his comments here, under Terza Domanda).

“It’s [i.e., marriage is] provisional, and because of this the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null. Because they [the hypothetical couple] say, ‘Yes, for the rest of my life!’ but they don’t know what they are saying. Because they have a different culture. They say it, they have good will, but they don’t know.”

Many individuals have rightly taken issue with the Holy Father’s words here. Responses have come from canon lawyers, clerics, and lay scholars alike. I shall not wade through all of these critiques, nor attempt to clarify what the Pope “might have been trying to say” about the current state of marriage in the Church. Rather, Francis’ comments reminded me of a conversation I had with my wife regarding this same subject. At the time, she was actively involved in parish ministry and witnessed first-hand the poor catechesis and cultural deformity from which many couples seeking sacramental marriage suffered. On one occasion she voiced her concern to me in words very similar to those of Pope Francis; essentially stating that these couples had no idea what marriage means.

We ought to be very careful, however, when we play the cultural “blame game” for all of society’s ills. As a professor – and perhaps firstly as a human being – what concerns me most is the abrogating of moral responsibility. Moral responsibility comes from freedom, and freedom comes from our ability know and will. Pleading ignorance is a way of saying that I was not free to make a choice because my ability to know was substantially compromised. In many situations, of course, this happens when the truth is actively withheld from a particular party making a decision. But the culture in which we live cannot change what our bodies are, or what they do, or the nature of a promise. While Christ’s teaching on the indissolubility of marriage is a part of divine revelation, the fact that marriage establishes a binding relationship – a relationship signified and consummated by a marital act – is not. To claim that “the great majority of our sacramental marriages are null” due to ignorance, therefore, undermines the human capacity to apprehend any natural moral truth or reality. Our culture, I would argue, does not prohibit us from understanding the concepts of marriage or permanence or indissolubility but, rather, facilitates in an ever more increasing fashion our desire not to live in accordance with these realities. As with original sin, it weakens our wills more than our intellects.

As a married man, I understand the temptation to say that knowledge about marriage must be gained first-hand. There is wisdom in that belief, but one cannot push that sentiment too far. Saying “I do” at the altar cannot be considered “free from ignorance” only if accompanied by the depth and breadth of knowledge about marriage that one would only possess after 10 or 20 or 30  years of married living. That is a reductio ad absurdam. So yes, Holy Father, the husband and father in me – with a half-smile – agrees: they don’t know what they’re saying. But as a freely thinking and willing human being I must disagree: they know what they’re saying, but only their cooperation with God’s grace will enable them to live what they have promised.

Anthony Coleman teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online.

Enthronement Reflection and Re-Consecration – What a Month!

This past Friday we celebrated the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, which happens to be a very special day for my husband and me. About six years ago, we had our home enthroned to the Sacred Heart of Jesus. When you enthrone your home, you acknowledge Jesus as the Head of your household. You place a prominent picture of Him in your home for all to see. On the day of Enthronement, you invite your family and friends to participate in a short series of prayers, and in our case, we also had our home blessed that day.

When you enthrone your home, Jesus makes a series of twelve promises to you:

  1. I will give them all the graces necessary for their state of life.
  2. I will establish peace in their families.
  3. I will console them in all their troubles.
  4. They shall find in My Heart an assured refuge during life and especially at the hour of their death.
  5. I will pour abundant blessings on all their undertakings.
  6. Sinners shall find in My Heart the source of an infinite ocean of mercy.
  7. Tepid souls shall become fervent.
  8. Fervent souls shall speedily rise to great perfection.
  9. I will bless the homes where an image of My Heart shall be exposed and honored.
  10. I will give to priests the power of touching the most hardened hearts.
  11. Those who propagate this devotion shall have their names written in My Heart, never to be effaced.
  12. The all-powerful love of My Heart will grant to all those who shall receive Communion on the First Friday of nine consecutive months the grace of final repentance; they shall not die under my displeasure, nor without receiving their Sacraments; My heart shall be their assured refuge at that last hour.

Source: Sacred Heart Apostolate

It never ceases to amaze me when, both strangers and friends alike enter our home, we always hear them say, “It is so peaceful in here.” They say it with their eyes peeled on the portrait of Jesus that hangs on our mantle, with statues of St. Joseph and the Virgin Mary, anchored on each end of the mantle.

In the past six years Jesus has poured out many blessings to my husband and me. He has set my heart on fire to evangelize in His name. Yet it is promise #11 that I treasure the most; to have my name written on Jesus’ heart forever!

It has been stated many times that if you want to get closer to Jesus, seek out Mary, for she will lead you to Him. Yet for me, it was the other way around! With the Enthronement of our Home to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, it was Jesus who brought me closer to the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

About four years ago, I was inspired to read Father Michael Gaitley’s book, 33 Days to Morning Glory. It is a modern day version of Consecration to Jesus through Mary, initially established by St. Louis de Montfort. I started the “retreat” on the Feast of St. Anthony of Padua (my favorite saint) and concluded the retreat 33 days later on the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. Every year since, I re-consecrate my heart to Jesus through Mary, beginning on June 13th, by re-reading 33 Days to Morning Glory. Every year, due to my growth in faith, and with the eyes of faith, I learn something new about my spiritual mother, Mary by re-reading this book. If you are looking for a way to grow closer to Christ and His mother, I highly recommend both enthroning your home and consecrating your heart to Jesus through Mary.

For information about enthroning your home: www.sacredheartapostolate.com

For information about consecrating your heart to Jesus through Mary, you have two options to consider:

  1. 33 Days to Morning Glory, by Michael Gaitley, MIC
  2. Consecration to Mary by St. Louis De Montfort

Virginia Lieto teaches theology for Saint Joseph’s College Online. Her new children’s book Finding Patience was recently published. She blogs at www.virginialieto.com.